Monday, September 4, 2006

John Mayer and Sheryl Crow, 9/2/06, Tweeter Center, Camden, NJ

Karen and I took the girls to see John Mayer and Sheryl Crow at the Tweeter Center in Camden, New Jersey, on Saturday evening. The two are co-headlining on a tour this fall, with Mat Kearney
opening (at least at the show we saw).

This was intended to be the girls' first "rock concert," though Colleen will argue (endlessly, it turns out) that neither artist is at all "rock." She's 14. Nothing I have to say at this point in her life can ever be right, so I should just let that go.

In any case, Karen and I are John Mayer fans, and we like Sheryl Crow (even if she's not right in our musical wheelhouse). We had seen Mayer last fall, when he was out with his power trio. That show had shown us that John Mayer, while a respectable singer-songwriter dude, is also a funky, bluesy, jamming guitar player. It looks like his new release, Continuum, will be a blend of his two styles.

We booked a hotel room in New Jersey about 15 minutes from the Tweeter Center. I still like going to concerts, but I'm getting too old to make two-and-a-half-hour drives home after a show.

We got to the venue just before Mat Kearney started to play. He's pretty good. It must be tough to play to a mostly empty hall, with people wandering in, chatting, looking for friends, and generally not paying any attention. But he got through to those of us who were listening.

Sheryl Crow was next. She had a pair of guitarists, one of whom she traded bass-playing duty with, a keyboard player, a drummer, and a string quartet. A good, tight band. She played a nicely balanced set. She has plenty of hits and the crowd liked her. She has a very string voice and I heard no bad notes.

John Mayer has a larger band: drums, bass, two guitarists besides himself, keyboard, and two horn players. A very tight band.

One of his guitarists was a noticeably older man, Robbie McIntosh, who was clearly a seasoned pro. McIntosh was playing some really tasty slide guitar to compliment Mayer's funkier fingerpicking. I knew I had to look this guy up (he looked familiar) and I found that he's played with Paul McCartney's backing band and was a member of the Pretenders. I was also pleased to see, in his list of heroes, the writer PG Wodehouse, right there between Freddie King and Lightnin' Hopkins. You may have just won a new fan, Mr. McIntosh.

Mayer's set was great fun. That young man can play guitar. Now that he's freed himself from his commercial music niche, I think he's going to be fun to watch. He mixes singer/songwriter with blues and rock and hip-hop and is making something new. I like that.

I think the girls were impressed. Christina was getting weary. That's a late night for a ten-year-old. But Mayer's final encore was his early hit No Such Thing, which she's always liked. And Colleen will have to hold to her thesis that John Mayer ain't real Rock'n'Roll, but I think she enjoyed it.

So. A successful trip. And the girl's have now been to a "rock" concert.

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