John Mayer, Jones Beach Amphitheatre, Wantagh, NY- 8/30
I have a love hate relationship with John Mayer, I love it when he sings, and I hate it when he talks. I love that his lyrics explain so much of what I feel, and his talk of loyalty, I hate the women he chooses as partners and the rapid changes he makes in management, band members and fan base.
He does have great taste in musicians to work with, and his stage presence has an undeniable pull. 8:00pm on Wednesday the 30th of August, I negotiated the wonders of public transportation and found my seat in the Jones Beach Amphitheatre as Mayer took the stage with his six piece band. The lights went down and “Why Georgia “washed over the crowd. Wearing worn jeans and an army jacket he sounded great till the last verse when the excitement, or the rumored case of laryngitis hanging on caused him to soar out of tune.
He sang “How You Doing?” to the packed house, trying to get his pitch back. Then broke into “Bigger Than My Body,” the band covering for him. By the third tune, one off his new album he seemed to be back on track. The lyrics again brought up my Mayer conflict. Could he really have just sung “we’re never gonna stop the war? His in earpiece swung down on his shoulder and without the distraction of the other musicians’ sounds in his head he played fine.
He redeemed himself by saying, before the opening chords of “My Stupid Mouth” “I still live this one every day.” Standing in a dark red spotlight, his voice wavered again but those words didn’t need a strong voice. They stood alone. “I’m never speaking up again.”
Another new song and I spent the time crowd watching. Jessica Simpson and a mirror-image friend giggled their way down the aisle. Alicia Keys and two friends were escorted backstage.
Mayer’s songs off Room for Squares seemed a little young for where he is now. There is no such thing as a real world for him, and he never will be the prom king, but this has to be better. Shouldn’t the ten-year reunion have happened this spring? I hope he busted down the double doors after all that talk.
The three songs he played off the upcoming album, Continuum, seemed a bit trite and passive. “Waiting On the World to Change” expresses, “Me and all my friends are just waiting on the world to change.” Isn’t it time to stop waiting and start doing? “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” had the same feeling of darkness, without purpose. A clear picture of pain, but it was not relatable or particularly enjoyable.
The songs off Heavier Things still resonated, and drew the largest audience response. In that moment in Mayer’s life, he got it. Here’s hoping he makes it through the growing pains and by his twenty-year reunion he finds something more relevant to say. As the first notes of Sheryl Crowe blended into a guitar duet with Mayer, I ducked out and hitchhiked to the train station. Anything to hold the little kernel of hope I got from hearing “Daughters”. Now that’s a song.