Friday, 19 February 2010

John Mayer close to British breakthrough

Guitarist John Mayer is making belated progress in his bid to be known in this country beyond American expats and Heat readers more interested in which starlet he is currently squiring.
As he played a sizeable theatre show last night having just announced a May gig at Wembley Arena, the fact that the 32-year-old still shows no sign of having a hit over here is starting to seem less relevant.

"Thank you for robbing me of my freaky anonymity in the UK," he beamed to a crowd who seemed to know all the words. "We can mark off another country where I cannot visit adult bookstores."

What is it about Mayer's soulful contemporary rock that is taking so long to translate?
On recent fourth album Battle Studies he's not singing about baseball or fannypacks but about the joys of singledom (Perfectly Lonely) and marijuana (Who Says).
Singing with a slight Bryan Adams rasp that rose to a crisp falsetto during a surprise cover of the Jackson Five's I Want You Back, his own full back catalogue proved that delayed fame makes for a better setlist.

There was a shimmer worthy of U2's Edge on his guitar lines on Heartbreak Warfare, while he also handled loose funk on Vultures and acoustic pop on early track Why Georgia.
The solos rained down as the night wore on, especially during an epic Gravity.
Mayer displayed an affinity with his instrument that made it clear why he counts Eric Clapton among his jamming buddies.

But despite an armful of tattoos that hinted at a rock 'n' roll heart, he never really let himself go.
With boy band looks and real technical ability, on paper and over the pond Mayer has got it all.
It seems Britain is coming closer to deciding that we want it too.