John Mayer

support Gabrielle Aplin
author BV date 16/10/13 venue Forum, Copenhagen, DEN

Having been one of the ticket holders for John Mayer’s cancelled show at Forum, Copenhagen three years ago, I was somewhat jittery at the fact that I, on this very night, were to return to Forum to (hopefully) see John Mayer live for the first time. – Albeit in a slightly different role than what I had imagined. So as this chilly October night progressed, I found myself searching for the press entrance of Forum to mark two firsts: My first John Mayer gig and my first reviewing duty at Forum.

All photos by Kenny Swan

Gabrielle Aplin

The support of the night came as a totally new experience to me. Having never heard as much as a single word of Gabrielle Aplin beforehand, I assumed it would be at least somewhat interesting though. However, as her set kicked off with an upbeat Americana influenced track I immediately started pondering on what kind of impact she was actually going to have on the audience. In retrospect, the sound worked against her as the softly ringing acoustic elements drowned out in a washing sea of reverb stemming from Forum’s large size. Moreover, her failure to leave a solid imprint on my memory cannot only be accredited to bad sound as her songs also lacked the punch that would most definitely have made the difference. As she and her backing band progressed through their 30 minute set that mostly consisted of ballads, she managed to win over what seemed like the first two rows of people, as they somewhat awkwardly swayed their arms back and forth. This however, seemed like quite the feat to me, as I had a hard time actually discerning both the instruments from each other, as well as the songs from one another as the dynamics rarely changed. Most notably however, was that her biggest applause was received after her closing song. Gabrielle Aplin’s set wasn’t bad, it was just somewhat unimpressive and, to be completely honest, somewhat irrelevant to an audience that clearly didn’t care about anything other than the headliner of the night.

John Mayer

Few minutes before John Mayer took the stage, the vibe of the crowd seemed to change for the more vibrant. Anticipation was in the air and it seemed as if all the restraint shown from the crowd during the support had vanished. As Mayer opened the set with a mildly chilled out version of “Queen of California”, the applause thundered through Forum – so much so, that the sound from the band had difficulties in keeping up with that amount of noise. As the crowd eventually settled down some three or four songs into the show, the washing reverb that had drowned out Gabrielle Aplin seemingly haunted Mayer as well. With this washing reverb haunting his seven backing band members as well as himself, the soundscape at this point could, at best, be described as weak and hollow. The low point of this soundscape probably reared its head when Mayer launched into the massively popular “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”, effectively turning his juicy guitar tone into a hollow, tinny sound that was barely audible over the sheer reverberations from the rest of the instruments. – A sound that was probably best described by my trusted photographer of the night who cleverly remarked; ”Unless his pedalboard has a dozen Holy Grail Reverb Units on it, that tone is pretty fucking inexcusable”.

This, coupled with an unusually long and jammed out middle section of the song, wherein Mayer seemingly had some trouble finding the correct key to play in, made for a devastatingly disappointing version of a track that could have been an absolute highlight of the set. The massive washes of reverb seemed at their lowest (and thus least irritating) during the all-acoustic middle part of Mayer’s set. As he took requests from the audience, he apparently decided that a medley was in order, if he were to fulfill as many wishes as possible. As Mayer launched into a medley consisting of “Stop This Train”, “My Stupid Mouth”, “Daughters” and “Your Body is a Wonderland”, he received what was most likely the most thunderous applause of the night – possibly due to the inclusion of “Your Body is a Wonderland”, which his female audience seemingly never tires from hearing.

Following this successful barrage of tracks, Mayer seemed more confident than he did during the startup of the show. Thusly, he launched into yet another powerful barrage of tracks, this time with a full band backing him up. These tracks, most noticeably “Something Like Olivia”, “Belief” and “Waiting on the World to Change” rang with such a grace that I became unsure whether the sound issues were gone or not – at this point, it really didn’t seem to matter as it sounded much fuller than before and the band seemed wildly more vibrant. The inclusion of Mayer’s grandiose desert-tinged visuals seemed profoundly beautiful at times, and during this last part of the set it seemed much more like a necessary and natural extension of his show, rather than a pompous gesture meant to highlight the size of the stage. – Even more so, during the final song of the main set, “Why Georgia”, where his band got their due time to shine. Not that they didn’t play well most of the time, it just seemed particularly tight during the final moments of this song.

As Mayer returned for three encore songs, “The Age of Worry”, “I’m Gonna Find Another You” and “Gravity”, the mood mellowed out. These slow, soulful tracks seemed like a perfect roundup for a show of mostly energetic tracks and as the final notes of “Gravity” rang out, the crowd queued up to leave Forum behind after what seemed like a delightful experience to most, even though I heard several complaints of the initially all-encompassing sound issues. Myself? Well, I left Forum with a sense of adequate satisfaction. – It wasn’t the best show ever, but luckily it didn’t turn out as disappointing as it initially lined itself up to be either. It was just downright solid.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Queen of California
  • 2. Half of My Heart
  • 3. Wildfire
  • 4. I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)
  • 5. Who Says
  • 6. Dear Marie
  • 7. Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
  • 8. If I Ever Get Around to Living
  • 9. Stop This Train / My Stupid Mouth / Daughters / Your Body is a Wonderland
  • 10. Something Like Olivia
  • 11. Belief
  • 12. Waiting on the World to Change
  • 13. Born and Raised
  • 14. Friend of the Devil (Grateful Dead cover)
  • 15. A Face to Call Home
  • 16. Why Georgia

--Encore--

  • 17. The Age of Worry
  • 18. I’m Gonna Find Another You
  • 19. Gravity

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