Orlando, Fl • January 27, 2007
One of the most talented blues guitarists of this decade has been masquerading as a pop star.
Throwaway love songs with cheesy choruses and soft vocals are what the radio listeners want, and so John Mayer has delivered- condemning himself to be a pin-up boy with little cred. Like a dozen others I could name off the top of my head (Jason Mraz, Josh Kelly, Jack Johnson, Gavin DeGraw), he has seemed comfortable enough within the world of adult easy listening that he just sort of fades into the landscape. Dating Jessica Simpson doesn’t really help tarnish his wholesome image, maybe that’s why he’s been halfheartedly attempting to hide the budding romance.
His fans don’t care about any of this. Not his music cred, or pop songs, or blues riffs. The crowd at Orlando’s newly renamed Amway Arena was inches away from being soldout and all the fans cared about was the simple fact that Mayer was onstage in front of them.
It was the third night of his Continuum tour and the demand for tickets was such that I couldn’t score one. So my experience of the John Mayer show lasted for the first three songs of his set during which I photographed him in front of a sea of women absolutely freaking out from the moment he stepped into a ray of red light. Rumor has it that one of the voices of praise in the audience was his famous blond girlfriend.
Staying mostly behind his mic at center stage, he led his band of older players through a trio of respectable tunes including “Vultures,” a song that requires a Bee Gees falsetto that he totally pulls off without sounding disco. He changes guitars between each number and then clings to the strings like they’re his oxygen. It’s not his face that brings the crowds in (though he’s not bad looking), it’s not his voice (which is good, but not oustanding)- it’s his way of spinning tales with the notes and chords.
From this brief encounter with the young master of the Stratocaster I have found myself intriqued enough to seek out his new album.
To see more photos of this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com.