John Mayer Plays the Blues

John Mayer
Kool Haus
October 5, 2005
The John Mayer that hit the Kool Haus stage on Wednesday wasn't the same guy who played the Molson Amphitheatre last summer. With his shaggy hair drooping over his eyes and a decidedly more edgy blues sound he was a far cry from the clean-cut soft rock crooner most of his fans were used to seeing.

To back his new bluesy image were veteran bass player Pino Palladino who's played with the likes of Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and BB King and former Stones drummer Steve Jordan.

The John Mayer Trio opened the show with high-energy rendition blues classic "Everyday I've Got the Blues" with the flawless chemistry of a power trio. Their style reflected a blues-rock sound heading back to the days of Cream. The Musicians were each given a chance to show off their own prowess seamlessly intertwining the sounds without letting anyone fade into the background. But still leaving Mayer ample opportunity to fly solo over his electric guitar, a chance he doesn't get as often with his pop material.

At one point Mayer bent down and picked up a camera from a shocked fan in the front row and used it to play slide guitar while snapping pictures of his fingers grasping the neck of his instrument.

The Trio's original tunes like the jammy new single "Who Did You Think I Was?" were much edgier than the pop songs like "Your Body is A Wonderland" and "Clarity" for which the singer is best known. But Mayer also slid easily into songs by some of rocks guitar legends covering the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Steve Ray Vaughn. But it wasn't so easy to tell if all of his fans slid as easily into his musical transition.

Standing in the crowd you could occasionally hear teenage girls wondering when he would be singing something from his past albums Room For Squares or Heavier Things. A handful didn't even stay for the whole show, but that's their bag.

Even Mayer knew he was taking a risk thanking the crowd towards the end of the show for coming out even though they may not have known many of the songs before that night.

But for the most part the crowd let Mayer and his trio lead them through the blues tinted show and jammed right along with him. Energies rose as the trio belted out Ray Charles' "I Got A Woman" which most after the show called the "Golddigger" song referring to Kanye West's current chart topper that samples the Ray Charles tune.

But the loudest roars from the crowd came during Mayer's encore when he sung his radio-friendly, Grammy award-winning tune "Daughters". Sweeping his hair out of his face he stepped away from the mic and grinned as the audience sang him back the majority of the tune.

Overall the crowd left with smiles on their faces and a new appreciation for the blues. But ditching the pop sound that he's known was definitely a bit of a risky move for the young singer / songwriter who plays with the heart of a true blues man.

Writer: Michelle Garcia

Photo:Michelle Garcia

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