Note: Originally Published 2-18-07
So, lo and behold, we had a major artist visit Central Illinois! When my wife and I had the opportunity to see John Mayer at the US Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, how could we resist?
Let me get this out there from the get-go, I’m not a huge John Mayer fan. I’ve never disliked him, but it’s been a long time since I sat down and listened to any of his CDs.
That being said, just the excitement of being at a concert with a Grammy winner performing had me hitting on all cylinders, so I think Mayer would have had to really offer us a terrible performance to disappoint, which he did not.
In fact, I was surprised at what a good showman he was. Also, he struck me as very genuine and personable with his audience. He made a point several times to comment on the energy in the Coliseum, and he was right. He had a very appreciative and enthusiastic crowd. Hopefully that news will get around and we’ll see more big names in the heart of Illinois.
He’s a fine singer, but for me, his songs get a little old. They’re very mellow, which is awesome if you’re reading a book or trying to have a little romance, but I found myself at time wishing he’d move along to whatever song he had planned next.
But, I can tell you for sure what was certainly not mellow-his guitar playing! I’ve heard Mayer was a pretty good guitarist, but let me tell you, he is tremendous! I couldn’t believe the things he was doing with it, and he gave us a little funk, a little rock, and a bit of everything in between. I just wish he’d take some of that raw energy and put it into his songs, but alas.
Of course, his back-up band was very talented, and Mayer made a point of introducing them and giving them each a moment in the literal spotlight. He also had a giant set of screens behind him that would light up in various colors as well as a pretty cool light show. Again, he talked with us quite a bit, and he really was pretty funny and, again, very genuine. He even got tongue-tied on several occasion and made light of it. He signed all the posters in the front row, talked about two little girls that he thought had to have been his biggest fans in the whole US, and made a point to try to acknowledge all the signs he could read in the audience.
Like I said, a great musician, but I would love to see him take his guitar skills and apply them to a little edgier music. But hey, he’s his own man, and I commend him for doing it his way.
His opening act was a guy named Mat Kearney, and man, would I hate to be an opening act. First of all, he was very good. But, you know, people were still milling in during his entire set and getting beer and talking to each other; in other words, just generally not paying him any attention. I was on the floor, row 32, and I stood, along with the rest of the floor, during the entire Mayer set. We all sat for Kearney. Poor guy. Especially because, like I said, he really was pretty good. Anyway, finally, he played his last song, and boom!, everybody recognized it. Then you saw all the camera phones flashing and people started clapping. Ah well, that had to make him feel a little better.
On another side note, the people in my section kept looking back at the sound area, which was not too far behind us. There were rumors that Jessica Simpson was sitting in there. You know, she and Mayer are supposed to be an item these days. Anyway, I gave in and looked myself, and was pretty sure I didn’t see her. But, when Mayer had nearly finished his encore, there was some commotion behind us, and I turned around and yep, there she was, in the middle of a pack of security guys being led out of the arena. Let me just say that Jessica Simpson seems to be the antithesis of everything John Mayer stands for, so I don’t see what is going on there. Well, I do see it, and I guess he’s a red-blooded American male, but c’mon John! You write songs; you play the guitar, you dress like a normal dude! She is so far below you in terms of talent, John . . . just please don’t let her drag you into an MTV reality show. … Please …
So, all in all, good show, great crowd, awesome guitar playing, and a lot of fun!