Sunday, August 12, 2007

John Mayer/Ben Folds in Tampa

Lots to report on after nearly three weeks in Tampa but somehow seeing the concert seems like a dream so perhaps by summarizing it here it will become more real.

First allow me to say that it was in an outdoor arena. The last time I attended a show in such a venue was at the lovely Stages at WolfTrap; Dave and I got SOAKED in our lawn perch. I swore I'd never do the lawn it was that my "date"---birthday girl, Haley, and I were feeling smug during Ben Folds set as it began to rain. And rain. And rain. And then the wind blew, hard; right under the covering. WE. WERE. SOAKED. All we could do was laugh. It was, however, much more cool and we needed the heat relief.

So I think that Ben Folds does best in rather smaller venues. He was quite impressive and funny but his stage persona is just not "large". I dug watching him hammer the piano from his typical ham-string-stretch-like stance, switching to his synth for funking up his arrangements, and yes, duck-walking a la Chuck Berry with the synth in his arms. I wish he'd played Army, but he didn't. He played with just two other musicians: drummer and electric bass. I was very impressed with his musicianship but he didn't knock me out.

The really big show...
I was/am(?) not a fan so much of JM's first album that included The Real World and Body is a Wonderland. Too pop, too young, not a lot of musical skill there. My opinion has changed of course as I've documented here often enough. Seeing him live has elevated my opinion of him to ever more soaring heights. John Mayer IS the real deal.

I was at once struck at how obvious it is he's spent a lot of time working on his vocal chops; he's a much better singer today than he has been. His guitar work was even better, putting me in mind of no one else so much as Slow Hand himself, Eric Clapton. He has a very easy, gentle touch on the fret board, long delicate fingers that are very very nimble. Some of the chord changes had his fingers looking more like a flutist's than a guitar player. I know at least one of you will appreciate what I mean when I say that I think he's spent some time watching and listening to Tuck Andress because his staccato work was u n b e l i e v a b l e.

His set was quite long; I didn't watch time or record the set list but he played everything I wanted to hear. He had a nice sized ensemble of very capable musicians---one of which alternated between guitar, bass and percussion; he was very good and Mayer allowed him a couple of solo opportunities which impressed. The drummer kicked ass and I don't recall his name; but what he was able to do with a fairly modest kit seemed pretty magical. He had two live horns on stage which automatically earns bonus musicianship points. I struggled to decide for a long time but finally I have say that neither were Lew Soloff or Blue Lou Marini.

There was this one guitarist, though...for a while I couldn't decide if it was Jimmy Buffet or my HS Band Director (John Jordan, wherever you are, I hope you're having a good life). Turns out it was probably neither one of them either. He was playing this amp'ed, wood body acoustic guitar with a huuuge resonator cone (I do love the sound of those); I'm pretty sure it wasn't a true dobro but I was pleased to see that in the lineup.

As a matter of fact, JM reserved "Body is a Wonderland" and "Neon" for the first two tunes of his encore; he did those acoustic with Mr. Buffet-Jordan accompanying him on the resonator guitar. SOUNDED FABULOUS.

I'm trying to figure out now what my fave JM tracks area. I definitely love "Why Georgia ", "In Repair" but I think that just maybe if I had to pick one Mayer track that captures everything I love about his music, it would be "I Don't trust Myself" hold on to whatever you find baby; hold on to whatever will get you through...

Haley enjoyed it VERY much and is clamoring now for a John Mayer poster for her budoir. I'm inclined to indulge....

1 comment:

Lyman said...

good stuff, I have to catch a show