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ISSUE 115 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 4/26/2002

Back to you, John Mayer

By Byron Vierk
Staff Writer

Friday, April 26, 2002

Having discovered John Mayer relatively early this year, I immediately associate his music with Minnesota. On April 16, Mayer played the Quest Club in Minneapolis, and his performance resonated with the atmosphere and ambiance that is Minnesota. Mayer’s music created an environment of community and collective relaxation that could be felt throughout the concert. Kicking off with “Back to You,” Mayer offered up lengthened versions of his most popular songs as well as new numbers like “All This Will Make Perfect Sense Someday.” While some songs seemed to drag due to long arrangements, there were several that benefited immensely.

In the encore, Mayer’s ode to lost childhood, Mayer led the audience back in time with tidbits of commercial jingles (anyone remember “My Buddy”?) and his own improv versions of such 80’s pop standbys like “Physical” by Olivia Newton John. The low point of the evening came at what should have been its high point. Mayer cites Stevie Ray Vaughn as a major influences, and it shows in his guitar style and singing. However, Mayer’s unique style didn’t translate well when he attempted to solo his way into stardom on solid songs like “Neon.” Mayer is a skilled and highly adaptive player, but at times the solos dragged the normally four minute songs into ten minute jams. Mayer had excellent interactions with the crowd, which more than made up for any solo noodeling. Each song was introduced like a prized child, explained and given context. The greatest thing about John Mayer’s live performance was this atmosphere of immediacy and contact with the artist. Mayer’s music is always easy to identify with. What person can’t understand how Mayer feels on songs like “My Stupid Mouth” and “Comfortable”? However, it seemed that some people were disappointed with the mood of the show. The club itself is partly to blame for this disappointment. The pillars supporting the upper levels of the Quest Club obscure the view of the stage and greatly affect sound quality. The Quest was unbearably hot for the majority of the concert and that discomfort only served as a distraction to the music being made. Despite intangibles and situation, the John Mayer concert was an event not to be missed for fans of Mayer’s music, both long time and new. Long time fans of Mayer will recognize him as an artist not of the studio or of the arena, but as that guy that could play at your local coffee house. Mayer’s music is not meant to be an anthem to anyone, but rather a confession between friends. Mayer lets us into his life and shows us what he has on the inside, and for those few hours, we can all can find out that there really is no such thing as the real world and that just maybe, John Mayer is that singer-songwriter that has been missing from pop music since the 1970’s.

For those wishing to understand why Mayer really could never honestly be a popstar, look for the re-release of his first and most personal album, Inside Wants Out, later this year.

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