Mayer, John
" Where the Light Is - Live in Los Angeles "

Blueswax 7
Rating 8

Turning On His Fan Base To Blues, (09/17/08)

Recorded at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, California, Where the Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles finds singer-songwriter and guitarist John Mayer performing in three different band configurations: acoustic trio (where the musicians are un-credited), electric trio (with bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Steve Jordan), and a large band (with the wonderful Robbie McIntosh on guitars and Dobro, trumpet and sax, Tim Bradshaw on keys, and lap steel, bass, drums, and guitarist David Ryan Harris).

This two-CD set works pretty well, though it may not offer the Blues enthusiast precisely what they might be looking for, especially during the acoustic set and less often during the full-band setting. Starting with the acoustic set, it was a nice surprise to hear Mayer cover Tom Petty's "Free Fallin,'" which closes the five-song acoustic segment. Things really heat up quickly on the electric trio portion, especially on the opening "Everyday I Have the Blues," Jimi Hendrix's "Wait Until Tomorrow," and Mayer's "Who Do You Think I Was," "Come When I Call," "Good Love Is On the Way," and on the straight slow Blues of "Out of Mind." It's important to note that all of the previously mentioned tracks are consecutive, thus giving this portion of disc one a real bluesy flow, with lots of great guitar work by Mayer, who is further aided by the fine interplay and musicianship of bassist Palladino and drummer Jordan. Upon listening to disc one, I was really looking forward to the second CD, but was mostly disappointed. The only tracks that jumped out were Mayer's cover of Ashford and Simpson's "I Don't Need No Doctor" (which Mayer recorded on John Scofield's excellent tribute album to Ray Charles, That's What I Say, on Verve) and Mayer's extended version of "Gravity."

Say what you want about John Mayer, but this very talented Pop star is trying to turn on his huge fan base to the Blues. Three to four years ago I had the opportunity to interview Mayer in a one-on-one, in-person situation, and at that time he looked at me squarely in the eyes and told me that he wanted to introduce his fans to Blues, first by adding Blues riffs into his Pop songs and he also said that he would incorporate Blues segments into his live performances. He kept his word! Mayer then asked me who is the only musician who has successfully produced Pop records and Blues albums? Eric Clapton. And that it was Clapton's recording model that Mayer wanted to follow. He is starting to follow that model, thus making the young John Mayer a rare contemporary artist who seemingly has an underlying methodology for educating his young fan base to the Blues!

It should also be noted that this concert is also available on DVD and Bluray, where you get to see each band and further appreciate the various band configurations.

Bob Putignano: