Thursday, February 18, 2010

John Mayer at the Sommet Center

Last Wednesday I had the good fortune of getting press tickets to cover John Mayer at the Sommet Center in Nashville, TN for the Belmont Vision. I'd never seen John Mayer so I thought it would be really interesting to see him and his crazy guitar skills in person.

There was a twist though-- the concert was the same day the 'shit hit the fan,' as they say, regarding his Playboy Magazine interview.

Do I think his statements were horrendous? Yeah. At the same I reserve judgment about whether his "tears" that night were real or not. I really just want to talk about some of the things I didn't include in my write up.

For one, Michael Franti and Spearhead opened and they were terrific. I've been anxious to hear "Say Hey" live since I found it over a year ago. The energy was great. Franti bounced around the audience, letting people crowd around him. I thought that was neat because artists who play the Sommet are typically "too big" to allow that close contact with fans. Also, he brought up kids on the stage at the end and it was pretty cute. The entire set was wonderfully positive and upbeat in an non obnoxious or cheap way-- it was like a Jack Johnson album! That sort of vibe but a little less fluffy.

Mayer picked a good set list. I never officially reviewed Battle Studies, but I wasn't a fan. In fact, before getting my tickets, I'd listened to it under 3 times mostly because of my disappointment. The logical assumption was that he was going to go bluesier after Continuum, not backtrack into pop. He's done well with pop, but I thought that was over. I wanted to hear really killer guitar playing, but Battle Studies did not showcase his abilities to the degree it could have, or half as well as Continuum. Basically, more of the album should have sounded like "Crossroads," the Robert Johnson cover.

Take a song like "Assassins." He's not really talking about murder when he says "you get in, you get done and you get gone." Obviously, I mean-- wow. The metaphor is so contrived and so thin it's painful. Plus, the song just sounds like it was made in the '80s. I'd classify this as mostly a bad thing.

Regardless, Mayer quickly jumped into his older songs, hitting all the big ones and mercifully leaving out "Daughters."

"Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" was killer. It went a long way to redeem him in my eyes after my near total disillusionment.

Anyway, this is my review of Mayer's concert.


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