John Mayer Extends Beyond His Years

Like many parents of a certain age, I am increasingly delighted by the new artists my kids are helping me discover. John Mayer falls easily into that bucket; my daughter four years ago urged me to take her to see his gig.

Photo by Carly Auerbach

Photo by Carly Auerbach

Photo by Carly Auerbach

Photo by Carly Auerbach

While she happily played Annie Leibovitz in the photo pit, I marveled at Mayer’s confident dexterity on the guitar. I came to the happy realization that he is a gateway artist for music lovers yet to discover seminal acts like The Allman Brothers or Grateful Dead. Long, thoughtful exploratory guitar solos remain hallmarks of all three artists.
Hence, I wasn’t too surprised a few years later that Mayer would be joining remaining members of The Dead for a series of gigs.
More recently at The Forum Mayer led his crisp band through a solid set of original tunes. The tour is built around his current release, and features a cinematic theme.
Indeed, as the band assembled in darkness, a filmic opening credit sequence identified the players.
Chapter 1 was identified as the full band part of the show. Anchored by veteran Pino Palladino, the bassist ran the engine room of the band. (He was pulled into duty 15 years ago by Pete Townshend when John Entwistle left this mortal coil, and Palladino has been touring with The Who ever since).
Mayer was flanked by two guitarists, who mostly supply rhythm but were generously given space for solos, in classic jam band fashion.
Mayer introduced various of the songs, often highlighting their genesis in various parts of Los Angeles.
A half dozen songs later and Chapter 2 introduced the acoustic section. Mayer acquitted himself well, soloing through a handful of songs. He has a tendency to pack as many notes into a space as possible; I prefer when he slows down and stretches out.
Chapter 3 opened with clips explaining his affinity for his trio work with Palladino and Jordan. There is a purity of the self-imposed constraints of a bass, drum and guitar lineup. Each musician needs to be especially supportive and sympatico, which was indeed the case. “Wait Until Tomorrow” was well-formed. Further cementing my impression of Mayer as reminiscent of Eric Clapton, the trio portion of the former’s concert was certainly rooted in the latter’s Cream days. Both bands stretched “Crossroads” into a blazing tour de force.
Chapter 4 provided a reprise of the full band. Mayer alleged that he was beginning and ending his rap career at this show; we shall see. “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” was given a full workout.
With the news that both Fender and Gibson are selling fewer electric guitars, there is a viable concern that fewer rock guitarists are in the pipeline.
Mayer is doing his part to stem the tide.


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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