John Mayer - Ak-Chin Pavilion - 10/2/2013
by Amanda Ventura
All photos by Jim Louvau
Say what you need to say about John Mayer. You just don't know the goodness of his music until you've heard him blowing his songs wide open with guitar solos and those special deviations and blends you can only get in-person. It only took the first few bars into last night's opener "Queen of California" to replace the racist penis and playboy jabs that were nagging at my brain's pleasure center. The image of Mayer's face geeking out while looking to his band members during a jam sesh, too, was ephemeral but unforgettable. It's those child-like glimpses that frequently get to you at a show like this.
The Born and Raised Tour is Mayer's first in three years, following vocal surgery, two album releases, and a few well-analyzed run-ins with publicity. Though his best-known songs were dropped a few registers so as to not strain Mayer's voice, it was only really noticeable on "Waiting for the World to Change."
Though Mayer didn't speak much at first, he spent considerable time joking with the crowd, making silly voices, dropping obscure pop culture references, and repeatedly thanking everyone for being there. In his own words -- "Some of you wouldn't be caught dead in something you wore in 2001, but you're still listening to this music."
The same goes for me. This was my first time seeing Mayer, but I've had his live album, Where the Light Is in my car's five-disc changer for nearly six months. So, although I've never experienced the contortions of his cherubic face IRL, I had a good grasp of what a Mayer show was like six years ago.
Compared to WTLI, the blues breaks were traded up for a few church camp-ish sing-a-longs ("Age of Worry" was paired with a lyric video) and visceral rock solos -- even a few that vibrated the ground, thanks to guitarist Zane Carney.
Mayer's band took a brief break in his set so he could go one-on-one with the crowd, which began appropriately with an "innocent" song he says only he could have written before becoming famous, before he got caught up in what someone would think. Given the difficulty many people have separating his celebrity persona and life choices and relationships put on blast by the 'bloids, some self-consciousness is fair.