"East Coast. All the f**king way," declared a dorky-dressed John Mayer to a crowd of screaming New Jersey fans. Mayer professed his love for the East Coast via adulations of Twizzlers, the Yankees, and certain broadcast news anchors. The singer-songwriter then played a two-hour set that was both lively and flawless, further convincing the audience of their adoration.
Mayer brought his "Battle Studies" Tour to a very full PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey on Tuesday (August 3). The nature of Mayer's music solicited a house packed with an eclectic mixture of males and females of various ages. As he emerged onstage, though, female screams presided.
Mayer opened with a complex riff and a jam session from The Band's "Chest Fever." He hunched over his guitar post-applause, kicked off the song set with "Bigger Than My Body," and hit after hit ensued. After following up with "No Such Thing" and "Clarity," the emphasis which Mayer places on his onstage musicianship became apparent. He put his raspy, sultry vocals and passionate guitar mastery to work as he shamelessly distorted and twisted his face and body into painful-looking positions to emit the exact sound.
Rather than packing his backing band full of rock star models with chiseled upper bodies, Mayer packed it full of brilliant musicians who suited him well, providing a robust supporting sound. Standouts included drummer Keith Carlock, who constantly killed the kit, and saxophonist Bob Reynolds, who played an impressive solo and a call-and-response duet with a ukulele-armed Mayer.
The crowd seemed more responsive when they recognized the song Mayer was beginning to play than when he kicked off a talent-stricken guitar jam. Regardless, Mayer continued to play plenty of solos. He laid his guitar on the floor and thrashed his hands around on it, and later crouched over it like a child digging for worms in the dirt. He positioned his calloused fingers over the frets and tapped tuneful wails on the strings with his other hand.
After Train opened for Mayer, lead singer Pat Monahan joined him onstage for an energetic cover of Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer." Mayer then closed with "Half of My Heart" and came out for an encore performance of "Edge of Desire."
Mayer has a strange way of looking both boyishly cute and like an old, weathered rocker at the same time. But at Tuesday's show, all notions of appearance went out the door, as he proved to New Jersey that he is loyal to the music and not so much the act.
Here is John Mayer's setlist:
Bigger Than My Body
No Such Thing
Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
Ain't No Sunshine
Waiting on the World to Change
War Of My Life
Do You Know Me
The Boys of Summer
Half of My Heart
Edge of Desire (Encore)