John Mayer


WEST VALLEY CITY — The surprises of the John Mayer concert came in the form of two remakes.

Mayer paid tribute to blues-based classic rockers Cream and Tom Petty and jammed out some "Crossroads" and "Free Falling."

While the arrangements were loyal to the originals, they were "Mayerized" with the singer/songwriter's vocal tweakings. Which only made the two songs perfect highlights to an energetic set.

The set itself began with the anti-war sentiment of "Belief." As the man and his band hit the first chords, the audience knew it would be a night to remember.

In fact, when the song ended, Mayer said he could tell it would be a "beautiful" show.

"Vultures" featured Mayer honing in on his guitar leads. In the past three years since his last performance in Utah, he has developed as a blues performer as well as a fine-tuned songwriter.

His crunchy leads were spotlighted throughout the night, as was his quirky sense of humor.

"People will cheer for anything," he said with a lighthearted laugh.

He made his case by announcing that he was running out of clean socks. The audience cheered.

Regardless of the between-song banter, Mayer played the show of his life, backed by his band — drummer J.J. Johnson, bassist Sean Hurley, keyboardist Tim Bradshaw, trumpeter Brad Mason, saxophonist Bob Reynolds and guitarists David Ryan Harris and Robbie McIntosh.

The energy of "Daughters," the classic "Neon" and "I'm Gonna Find Another You" fed the audience's expectations.

He even threw in "Stitched Up," a grooving jazz tune Mayer co-wrote with Herbie Hancock.

"Good Love Is on the Way," which sounded a bit like Led Zeppelin's "Over the Hills and Far Away," and "Gravity," done as a sing-along, exemplified Mayer's crowd interaction.

Mayer did all this without an elaborate stage show. The lack of big video screens or eye-catching theatrics only forced the audience to zero in on the music.

Opening the evening was the reggae-inspired jams of Brett Dennen and the sunshine chords of Colbie Caillat.

Dennen won the audience over with his 30-minute set, but it was Caillat that really got the show going.

The singer/songwriter's grooves brought to mind early 70s style.

"Oxygen," "Battle," her breakthrough hit "Bubbly" and a remake of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" were included in her set. And while she urged the audience members to kick off their shoes and dance to "I Want You Back," she held back.

The audience didn't mind. The applause was loud, but louder when Mayer stepped onto the stage.