“Let’s have sex after the show. I like the direct approach but what a terrible, terrible pick up line? The press would love it.” His witty, self-deprecating nature is something he is not known for. But his 2014 Sydney concert at Allphones Arena proves why John Mayer is still one of the best showmen.
The hysterical sea of grey, merchandise shirts greets John Mayer as he opens with the bluesy, Queen of California – a song about moving away to move forward, appropriate really as he has not played in Australia since 2010.
His first concert in four years has seen Mayer truly develop and grow as a musician and songwriter after his throat surgery for granuloma – which is the inflammation of the tissue surrounding the vocal chords. The surgery has changed his laugh and voice making is deeper, he jokingly states, “it has finally made me into a man”.
The swaying, somewhat quiet crowd does not come alive until the opening riffs of I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You). The extended rendition is coupled with thrusting his hips and guitar forward; he pulls beautiful, squealing notes from his beloved Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. By the end of the song, the entire band is simply jamming and Mayer is dancing as if he is warming up for a race with lunges and high-knees on the spot.
The band walks off as the lights dim, a spotlight awakens on Mayer and his acoustic guitar. He begins playing a sweet song – the lyrics familiar but not fitting to the music – the crowd is so mesmerized by his presence that we all miss that he is playing Beyonce’s XO until we hear “baby, love my lights out”. The uproar from the crowd is almost deafening as he strums the last note of his perfect cover – only Mayer can be a rival for Queen B.
Whilst male and female voices screech out “I love you John!” he opens the next song with simply saying, “this one is a nice, dignified, innocent statement of I love you too”. The arena explodes as his multi-coloured, tattooed, left-arm glides up and down the neck of his acoustic guitar playing his Grammy-winning, Your Body is a Wonderland – a song he has not played in a decade for fear of criticism.
Mayer got the crowd roaring one last time by playing Gravity as the encore. His epic guitar solo proved how infectious his love for his instruments are as well has how supremely talented he is. His eye-wincing, body-grooving, high knees returned as he explored the last riffs of the beautiful song. The show closed with an arena-filled standing ovation for a simple, somewhat humble man who loves his guitar.
He oozes wit, charm, character and pure talent and this is why John Mayer will remain one of the best showmen who will truly melt your heart.
All words by Natalie Austin