No “Heartbreak Warfare” Here

April 6, 2010 — by Nandini Ruparel
Ruparel Nandini 11

Junior Nandini Ruparel.

On March 26, the most amazing thing happened to me—I went to a John Mayer concert.

OK, fine, so I’ve had more wonderful things happen to me before, but I have to admit that this was pretty high up there. Because I had never been to a concert before and hadn’t been to HP Pavilion (where the concert was held) since third grade, I was a little bit nervous about going. I was also a little apprehensive because, with the prevalence of AutoTune, who knew whether artists were actually good singers or not? Turn the knob, and wow, you’ve got a brilliant voice! But, still, I had some confidence that one of my favorite singers, John Mayer, wouldn’t stoop to something so low as to change his voice.

Anticipation and Arrival

I dressed up sort of nice and arrived with my friend Mika at the Pavilion 30 minutes before the concert was meant to start (in my nervousness, I also became slightly paranoid that I would be too late and miss the whole concert). After purchasing some souvenirs , we sat in our top-row seats. Unfortunately, they were too high up to see the stage properly, so throughout the concert, we didn’t really get to see the artists “in person.”

An unforgettable opening by Michael Franti and Spearhead

Because this concert had special guests Michael Franti and Spearhead, the singer and his band opened for Mayer. I’d never heard of Franti nor his band, so the first part of the concert seemed like it would be really boring. But Franti, a native of San Francisco, did a great job amping up the energy for Mayer.

His songs were fresh and they had a strong beat which inspired a lot of fun and dancing up in the stands. Although (yet again) we were too far up, Franti stepped out into the crowd and sang and danced with the people in the floor seats, which was nice to see, even if not to experience. His last song, “Say Hey (I Love You)” is now one of my favorite songs and his interaction with the crowd during the song enhanced the experience as well.

Finally (finally, finally!) John Mayer

Finally, after an hour, John Mayer came onstage. He opened with “Heartbreak Warfare,” arguably one of the most popular songs on his album, Battle Studies, and played a number of songs not only from his most recent albums but some old ones, like “Continuum” and “Room for Squares.” He sang just as well, if not better, than he does on his recorded output, but what was most impressive was not only his singing but his concert persona.

He played some extremely powerful guitar solos that surprised me—he is not known specifically for his guitar, and yet his skills in that were fantastic. One of my favorite parts was when he laid the guitar on the floor and literally played it from there, something I had never seen before but am quite impressed with. His jokes about the crowd, his ease onstage and his whistling (yes, whistling) made the concert more fun and definitely improved my impression of him.

Highlight of the evening

However, my favorite part was when Mayer and Franti sang “Waiting on the World to Change.” This song, which, coincidentally, was the first John Mayer song I had ever heard, is one of the reasons Mayer is so popular, even though it is from an earlier album. He sang the song through, engaging the audience and then brought on Franti, who then did a freestyle with the song, introducing all the band members and adding his own “world change” message. Then, most brilliantly, Franti beatboxed while Mayer played the guitar and added his own little beat. It was, by far, the highlight of the whole show.

At the risk of sounding hopelessly dramatic, I really wish I could go back to the concert. Although there were minor annoyances, like the people who kept shifting their seats around us and the distance from the stage, it was worth the $65 cost. And the next time Mayer comes back to San Jose, you know where I’ll be —right up there in the stands, cheering for him.

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