John Mayer @ Rod Laver Arena (with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals) – 22 Apr ’14

If you had said ‘Vermont’, Ben & Jerry’s is possibly the only thing that may have come to mind…until now. Add Grace Potter and the Nocturnals to the official, albeit short official list of associations.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals @ Rod Laver Arena

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals @ Rod Laver Arena

Instantly absorbed from the first bars of Ah Mary before the band kicked in, bringing to the stage a sassy breed of rock full of attitude and just a little air of country twang filtering through.

Medicine was accompanied by Potter’s commanding presence on stage, even from afar. Proving that there was more than a one trick pony on stage the tunes slowed down for a few ballads in Low Road and a song close to the heart. Still, glad that the rock returned.

Perhaps a little left of field for the arena crowd, but the somewhat cryptic percussion kept things pretty interesting all against soulful vocals, bold rock sounds and some gutsy guitar.

The band wasn’t essential to creating an impression on stage though, Potter managed just as impressively on her own for a few tracks. Stripping right back to vocals with a barely there accompaniment on Nothing But the Water, with the gospel vibes leading to more gritty guitar and effortless melding of sounds.

So on the line of associations, there could be a few that come to mind when hearing the name John Mayer (I’m sure I’ve heard someone say douchebag) but putting aside the array of celebrity, this was all about the music and there’s little doubt that this guy knows a thing or two about playing guitar.

So with it being a few years since his last visit, it was time to celebrate and enjoy the tunes. With a full band in tow, some fancy work in Belief set precedence for the night, and things only got better.

John Mayer @ Rod Laver Arena

John Mayer @ Rod Laver Arena

The slightly husky vocals spanning what has now become an abundance of material means that a live delivery was an opportunity for a career spanning snapshot, despite biases to the new.

The melodic and lyrical tune of Queen of California brought a naturally cruisy vibe from the newer side of things, but despite the difference the sounds were equally if not more impressive and showcase a natural, comfortable prowess.

Everyone loved the “early stuff” as admitted by Mayer himself, now reaching a point where that connection and comparison makes it appropriate to call it early stuff. Still there was affinity and connection to the new stuff as well, from the stage and beyond to the crowd from the dreamy landscapes of Waitin’ On The Day to the discovery of those few simple chords in No Such Thing.

 

Recorded tracks at radio-friendly lengths become long extended jams, delivered in the moment with no sense of urgency or rush. Sure, there were ample shows beforehand and rehearsal time but there was still a sense of spontaneity and freedom in the sound. It naturally lent itself to unspoken invitations of participation through the night.

The guitar work was formidable, but a trip back in time to Neon did a fine job in demonstrating that to the masses.

 

And with a few tributes to the likes of Tom Petty with ‘Free Falling’, borrowing a little of Lionel Ritchie’s ‘All Night Long’ to meld into Speak for Me (it worked!), and even a little Van Morrison with ‘And it Stoned Me’ following Who Says, it was about the music.

 

The wonder and magic of something like this can be lost at times in an arena but the moments of brilliance make up for that. Plus there was no shortage of appreciation with ample gratuity and humility in numerous thanks to the crowd despite all the time that had passed since last visiting.

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