John Mayer

support N/A
author BV date 17/06/14 venue Tivoli, Copenhagen, DEN

Well, I suppose it is around that time of year. With the weather getting warmer the amount of outdoors concerts naturally rises during these particular months. Save for the odd festival performance, this particular gig would be my first outdoors concert in quite a long while actually; making me a bit nervous in terms of sound, atmosphere and the like. More so, my worries are also based on the 50/50 success rate of the sound at last year’s John Mayer concert in Forum; my worry being that he would bring that particular sound-mix with him to Tivoli. Thus entering Tivoli for a few firsts of the year, beer in hand, I anxiously awaited the arrival of John Mayer on stage.

All photos courtesy of Christian Søes / Blurred.dk

John Mayer

Entering about 15 minutes later than scheduled, tension was already building quite a bit in the crowd from where I was standing due to the time restraints of the outdoors concerts in Tivoli. Most tensions were relieved relatively quickly though, as Mayer entered to the tones of “Queen of California” and the relaxing country-esque swagger of the track. “Queen of California” might not be one of Mayer’s best efforts but it works quite well in the live setting as the simple vocal melody is easy to sing along to – as was evident with most parts of the predominantly female crowd. With “No Such Thing” Mayer got the crowd actively engaged in small-time dancing, random moving about and sporadic mouthing of lyrics. The sound-mix was extraordinarily clear for the most part; providing a stark contrast to the reverb-washed mess of Forum. In spite of this quite clear mix, Mayer and his bandmates were occasionally still rather hard to hear as the volume was generally too low – coupled with several parts of the audience’s inability to leave everyday chit-chat behind when going to a show. Surprisingly, “Paper Doll” off “Paradise Valley” hushed down the crowd a bit; making it a bigger hit than I had initially deemed it, apparently. Whilst still not a fan of that particular song (or the album from whence it comes) I was still able to appreciate the underplayed dynamics of the song as the band-members had their brief moments of glory where the interplay between the musicians was no less than top notch.

As the first tones of “I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)” rang through the crisp summer air, the applause was thunderous – occasionally drowning out parts of the soundscape. It’s understandable, really, that this particular song would receive such applause given its massive success when the “Continuum” album came out. Nonetheless, these vast amounts of applause were almost always borderline frustrating for me, personally, due to the massive amount of the sound they drowned out every time. None of this was Mayer and his band’s fault, of course, and can only be blamed on the sonic restrictions of the outdoor format. Following “I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)”, Mayer took a few moments out of the tightly packed setlist to secure the guitars of a few crowd-members; signing their guitars and having the security people deliver them back to the rightful owners with Mayer proclaiming: ”Now they can finally put their guitars down and enjoy the show - I know, I’ve been there. Holding that guitar for hours on end for someone to sign it; it burns and just takes out all the joy, so now you can relax.”

With “Dear Marie” and “Wildfire” Mayer achieved an amazing level of crowd control on this night. Following his every whim, hordes of fans (both male and female) were at the ready to sing the words of these songs, swaying blissfully to the extended musical interplay whilst awaiting their turn to finally sing (shout) their lungs out. With “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” Mayer not only piqued my interest by covering The Grateful Dead – he also managed to reach one of his musical highlights of the evening in terms of musical ability. Both he and his band performed with a nerve that was just a joy to watch whilst they also sounded unnervingly authentic in relation to doing a classic track like this particular one justice. Whilst I am more than certain that most audience members were unaware of this track’s origin I can still find a quite large amount of joy in the fact that Mayer goes all out on his recent country-inspired efforts by including a folksy country classic in his setlist – one made famous by one of my all-time favorite bands, no less. At least one can’t accuse him of doing things half-assed.

Following a semi-anonymous version of “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”, Mayer managed to utterly destroy one of his guitars by accident – prompting him to spend a few moments reflecting on the impact of this by saying: ”Broke one of my guitars. It’s actually sad, because most people would say it’s just stuff. Even though I have a backup for it, it’s still not just stuff you know. Well, someone will fix it.”. Picking up his backup guitar, Mayer launched into his recent single-effort; a cover of Beyoncé’s “XO” which he followed by venturing into an adventurously extended version of “Neon” which had most of the audience standing at their toes; once again awaiting their chance to sing along to the chorus of the song.

With “Waiting on the World to Change” Mayer incited rampant sing-alongs that were indeed worthy of the superior performance on this particular night – serving as an effective stopping point before the final encore. Due to the time restrictions, Mayer and his band returned for a single encore in the form of “Gravity” – complete with extended solos, dynamic interplay between the musicians and, sadly, also filled with a constant buzzing and humming from the background which was quite reminiscent of the sound a guitar usually makes when plugged into an electrical socket that is not grounded. Nonetheless, most people seemed to overlook this last sonic error, prompting large portions of the crowd to leave Tivoli’s beautiful surroundings in a blissful state – myself included, as I realized that this performance was in a whole other league than the previous time I saw John Mayer. At this point I am strongly considering going to see him again, but only time will tell if that plan will come into fruition.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Queen of California
  • 2. No Such Thing
  • 3. Paper Doll
  • 4. I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)
  • 5. Dear Marie
  • 6. Wildfire
  • 7. Going Down the Road, Feeling Bad (Grateful Dead cover)
  • 8. Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
  • 9. XO
  • 10. Neon
  • 11. If I Ever Get Around to Living
  • 12. Half of My Heart
  • 13. Who Says
  • 14. Waiting on the World to Change
  • --Encore:--
  • 15. Gravity

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