John Mayer at the Mullins Center on February 26

A Review of John Mayer at the Mullins Center on February 26, 2007

, Contributing Writer

Nothing about John Mayer’s show at the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst last Monday was a life altering musical experience, though the crowd was introduced to the new sound and style of Mayer’s blues. The show in Amherst was part of Mayer’s mostly collegiate tour to promote his Grammy-award winning Continuum.

The mood in the show altered as often as the hazily dark lights that set up the back of the stage, going from bright and energetic to dull and lethargic. At one point early in the show, many heads in the crowd looked around in disbelief when Mayer proclaimed he was “bored” with his tour. That was a disappointing admission from a musician whose fans turned out on a cold, snowy night to near sell-out capacity, so later on when he called Massachusetts his “favorite state in the Union,” many fans probably questioned his honesty. Misguided comments aside, the concert showcased Mayer’s growth as a musician, with impressive guitar riffs and solos throughout the show.

Mayer opened the show with the relaxing yet catchy tune, “Vultures.” Most of the tunes Mayer played were off Continuum, but there were several jams off his other recently released album, John Mayer Trio’s Try!. For those in the crowd who were new to the Trio, “Good Luck is on the Way” and “Wait Until Tomorrow” were both good introductions to Mayer’s side project that reflects more of his Continuum work than any of his previous albums.

Of course, a John Mayer show would not be a John Mayer show without the perennial favorites from Room for Squares and Heavier Things. Older tunes “No Such Thing,” “Why Georgia,” and “Bigger than My Body” were all fan favorites. All of these tunes had the crowd on their feet, while a close-eyed Mayer moved in place wildly. He was so into it that I almost forgot he said he was bored earlier…almost. The absence of “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” was disappointing. One of Mayer’s best performances of the night was “Heart of Life,” which had many of the couples in the crowd swaying to Mayer’s musings, “Pain throws your heart to the ground/Love turns the whole thing around/No it won\’t all go the way it should/But I know the heart of life is good.” Continuum’s biggest hit so far, the politically charged “Waiting on the World to Change,” had the crowd again on its feet and singing along, of course. Who wouldn’t want to sing along and agree with Mayer that the current state of American politics sucks?

The encore, though lengthy, disappointingly didn’t quite deliver the energy that an encore should. Mayer closed out the show with “Wait Until Tomorrow,” “Your Body is a Wonderland,” and the disappointing finale “Gravity.” “Your Body is a Wonderland,” which was the only song where Mayer used his acoustic guitar, was a passionate sing-along. The set was drawn out, but had Mayer going off on solos that again continued to showcase his obvious talent.

Opener Mat Kearney set the scene with a Chris Martin-esque crooning voice and musical stylings similar to those of Shawn Mullins. Romantic ballads and catchy tunes alike had spoken word intertwined, an interesting element to his already unique album. Naturally, he played many songs off of his latest release, Nothing Left to Lose, including fan favorite “All I Need,” “Bullet,” Crashing Down.” He closed out his short set with “Nothing Left to Lose,” leaving the crowd to talk about how hot this new talent is. Kearney complimented the mostly collegiate-age student crowd, informing the Minutemen-based crowd they “got it goin’ on,” while referring to a few things that make UMass an awesome place.
Mayer and Kearney are two men with incredible musical skill. Though Mayer maybe superior, he should take a page out of Kearney’s book when it comes to the fan appreciation.

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