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John Mayer
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John Mayer 

......John Mayer launched his recording career after performing at the South by Southwest music conference in 2000. Later that year, he released "Room for Squares," a Grammy-winning album that spawned several hits, including "No Such Thing," "Why Georgia" and the sultry "Your Body Is a Wonderland." Mayer's current tour features songs from his upcoming studio album, as well as his current live album, "Any Given Thursday." His song "Not Myself" is featured on the "How To Deal" movie soundtrack. His creative songwriting and warm stage presence establish him as a formidable musical force, and the smoky swagger of his voice at once evokes Sting, Dave Matthews and Jakob Dylan. Mayer's passion for songwriting is immediately evident for a man known for his gravelly voice, his electric guitar playing was amazing as he jammed between songs. And his new songs, like ``something's missing,'' were darker and more guitar-driven, pushing him more toward Bright Eyes than Dave Matthews. Mayer's show at the Concord Pavilion was more simplistic, wearing a gray T-shirt and jeans, There were no backdrops, only spotlights mainly centered on Mayer. Mayer's face was fun to watch on the overhead screen, contorting and stretching as he literally sucked the microphone while singing his radio hits ``No Such Thing'' and ``Why Georgia.'' This young man knows how to captivate a crowd with his six-string guitar and honest lyrics," Mayer and his band maintained a small-combo feel but gave everything more of a charge, including a showy but ill-fitting blues-rock guitar solo from Mayer. A couple of songs from his upcoming album suggested a move toward more musical complexity. At times he went off into wonderful jams that mesmerized the crowd. He made each song special in a different way; in "Your Body is a Wonderland," he had the crowd sing along. At a time when the music industry is being saturated with bubble-gum pop garbage and grunge bands trying to recapture the emotion of the early 90's, it is refreshing to hear an artist who is truly able to put out a couple of honestly good clean songs with catchy tunes.

By Randy Cohen

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