John Mayer at the 02 Arena, Review

John-Mayer-Paradise-Valley-artwork-tbv

Fresh from this summer’s release of his latest album Paradise Valley, the Connecticut strummer returned to London last night to continue his world tour.  Despite his very public profile, he stipulated early on that last night’s gig was very much, ‘about the music’, and he wasn’t wrong.

Supported by the equally divine Gabrielle Aplin, her distinct British folk harmonies serve to make the show considerably more nuanced and music-focused.  She is chattier on stage than Mayer himself but her peppy tone served as introduction enough for the main man.

With a set made up primarily of tracks from Paradise Valley and peppered with his multi Grammy Award winning back catalogue, Mayer stunned the 20,000 strong crowd with his genius guitar solos that have lead him to jam with the likes of Eric Clapton and BB King.

John Mayer’s previous sounds have seem him flirt with pop and blues, but last year’s Born and Raised and his current album see him work with a heavily country influenced rhetoric, his opener ‘Wildfire’ setting the tone for this with a mix of spark and soul and his Mumford-esque rendition of ‘Age of Worry’ had the crowd singing along to every line.  The images of the American Mid-West are projected throughout on the giant screen behind him, a nod to his latest, simple sound and allowing the musical to be at the forefront of his set.

In the first of his only two addresses to the audience he betrayed a hint of nervousness that his music still isn’t universally accepted, ‘I’m sure you can’t all be American exchange students, that must mean that someone in London knows who we are.’  His self-depreciating stance was undermined by his subliminal musical abilities, he is at his best when it is him and his guitar alone.

His two hour show ended with a selection of his older songs, ‘Slow Dancing in a Burning Room’ and ‘Free Falling’ were met with most screams and shouts of adoration.  Despite his success, his plain clothes and noticeable lack of interaction with the crowd allow for a total remove from the starry lifestyle often trailing in his wake.  John Mayer is up there with the greats of American music and when you’re in his presence this is never far from your mind.

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