ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Orgasmic Mayer has girls wantin' more
John Labatt Centre
Mon., Nov. 3, 2003
By Ashley Audrain
Gazette file photo
YOU’RE NOT ON THE DARTBOARD THIS TIME, JOHNNY — AREN’T
YOU PROUD? Mayer did his crooning thang for a crowd of...
err, excited girls at the JLC on Monday.
We made fun of his new album and we pinned him up on the Celebrity
Dartboard next to Barbra Streisand — things weren’t
looking good for John Mayer. Lucky for him, Mayer can put on a
pretty good show. Playing to a near sold-out crowd of what seemed
like Western’s entire female population (and its fraternities’ males)
at the John Labatt Centre on Monday night, he delivered a playful
and coy performance that just might warrant his Dartboard removal.
He’s the classic unsuspecting underdog who chicks dig and
guys don’t get. Mayer’s stage presence is confident
and comfortable, but perhaps a little too comfortable: his intense
orgasmic facial expressions make you feel like a fly on his bedroom
wall, a place the ear-piercing girls in the crowd would love access
to. Mayer makes love to his guitar on stage. Nobody can question
the man’s passion.
Yet, despite his obvious enthusiasm to perform, Mayer seems confused:
it’s as though he has been squished into the generic pop
genre against his will, but his true talent undoubtedly shines
when he closes his mouth and uses his hands. The best performances
of the night were impromptu and heavy blues-inspired guitar solos,
which thankfully sounded more genuine and mature than his sugar-coated
radio hits give him credit for.
Mayer primarily played from his latest album Heavier Things, starting
the show with the album’s opener “Clarity.” Playing
the well-known anatomical hits “Your Body is a Wonderland” and “Bigger
Than My Body” early in the line-up, Mayer then got down and
dirty with some impressive work on the electric guitar, after announcing
he was “in the playing mood tonight.” He amazed the
crowd with a blues-like set, the highlight including a playful
banter in which he personified his guitar as his whimpering girlfriend
wanting his affection. The real girl in Mayer’s life must
really have to fight to get noticed.
His quickly spoken anecdotes between songs were a nice chance for
the audience, — allowing them to get acquainted with the
meaning behind Mayer’s lyrics, although it was sometimes
difficult to hear what he had to say. He fiddled around with an
introduction to the song “83,” testing out what sounded
like a bit of Gord Downie-ish vocal gibberish, before setting into
a mediocre last set. As the show went on, Mayer played out each
song with focused concentration, relaying to the audience the feeling
he wasn’t ready to finish. He played an encore of three songs,
ending with “St. Patrick’s Day” from his 2001
album Room for Squares.
So yes, he’s a puppy-faced acoustic confessional who pouts
his way into girls’ hearts and writes catchy love-pops better
than the proverbial guy-next-door. But the world of guitar-friendly
commercial music needs a poster boy with a hint of genuine talent
and those who witnessed him live and in the flesh will agree it
could be one much worse than John Mayer.