O2 Arena, London
Music review: John Mayer - 'He plays interchangable, bland slices of blues rock'
Katy Perry might have added some much needed pop cheekiness to this energetic but po-faced blues affair
Monday 21 October 2013
“I didn't know you guys were even out there,” John Mayer gushes at the capacity crowd. “You've given me a lot of encouragement tonight,” adds the seven-times Grammy winner.
The Connecticut bluesman has already made a quip/barb that there can't be this many American foreign exchange students in London. The arena is not only packed with Brits but they're raucous with appreciation. One gruff male keeps on yelling “I love you John”, followed by “I want your babies”. Who knew there was this level of love for the tabloid's favourite lothario/love rat? A singer whose highest UK single chart placing was 42 for the unmemorable “No Such Thing” in 2002.
What's immediately clear is that he's gifted guitarist (he's duetted and held his own with Eric Clapton and BB King) backed by an accomplished band led by the excellent Andy Burton on keyboards. It's also clear that everyone here is immersed in all the material and is willing to forgive Mayer's every musical indulgence. Most notably some lengthy, freewheeling solos that eat up a sizeable chunk of the performance.
But with this crowd the earnest 36-year-old can do no wrong, even when he rips the delicacy and soul out of Tom Petty's sublime anthem “Free Fallin'”, over-egging everything, showing off his vocal range (which is particularly impressive since he's just recovered from surgery for a growth on his vocal chords) but adding nothing to the song.
On his new laid-back album, Paradise Valley, which is arguably his strongest so far, he duets with Frank Ocean on “Wildfire” (which opens the set and is a highlight tonight) and with Katy Perry, his latest celebrity girlfriend, on “Who You Love”. The big hitters aren't in attendance, although Perry might have added some much needed pop cheekiness to this energetic but po-faced blues affair.
The biggest dud is “Paper Doll”, his alleged response to Taylor Swift's “Dear John”, which is plain whiny. However, it's in the calmer moments that he makes an impact as on “Dear Marie” , a track about a first love where he laments “I go looking for your photograph online”. The standout lyric of the entire night.
For Mayer and for his adoring faithful it's clearly a triumph as they whoop and holler after US hits such as “Gravity”, “Queen of California” and “Waiting on the World to Change”, all of which are interchangeable, somewhat bland slices of blues rock. I leave feeling a bit like Tom Hanks in Big: “I don't get it?”
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Young Preston fan has play-off hero Jermaine Beckford's shirt stolen from him at Wembley - which then appears for sale on Gumtree
- 4 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people