John Mayer | Any Given Thursday (Aware/Columbia)

I like John Mayer. Hell, I’ll admit it: I was mildly obsessed at his beginning, but though I believe he’s an artist with great potential, this live CD may have been jumping the gun just a smidge.

 

 

A live recording is something that, to me, lives in and of itself. Sometimes it’s a fantastic compilation, exposing a musician’s true artistry and full range of talents. Sometimes it sucks so hard that you end up telling strangers about the time you wasted listening to it, and how upset you are over your long-lost $15. And then there’s that mediocre disc. That disc that you don’t quite want to turn off mid-track—and about which you can’t seem to find anything distinctive to say. You think to yourself, “This was probably a pretty good concert.” But that’s just it. It was a pretty good concert…that you weren’t at. And listening to a tape of an average concert that was, most likely, recorded because the artist’s publicist thought it would be a good way to put a new spin on some radio-friendly favorites just isn’t my idea of quality music.

With that said, John Mayer’s double live CD, Any Given Thursday, recorded at the Oak Mountain Amphitheater in Birmingham, Ala., fell within my range of indifference.

I like John Mayer. Hell, I’ll admit it: I was mildly obsessed at his beginning, but though I believe he’s an artist with great potential, this live CD may have been jumping the gun just a smidge. Though among CD’s 15 tracks are chart-topping singles from his debut album Room for Squares, twisted into newer versions, I found nothing on the recording to be surprising or pleasantly unusual.

Though familiar songs were marked with dramatically hesitant introductions and extended, jam-like interludes, I was left wondering whether or not I should have been impressed by the casual musicianship that left me feeling as if nothing had changed. The live set certainly exposed Mayer’s versatility and willingness to switch things up for his live listeners, but was it compelling enough to foster a genuine appreciation? Not really. But it’s good music. I’d paint my toenails to it, or balance my checkbook to it. And I do give Mayer an honorable mention for covering “Message in a Bottle” (Sting/the Police) with some style. Overall, his voice is there, the music’s there, but maybe in a couple years when the songs are older, he’ll have more elbow room to take bigger risks and open himself up in a way that’s really remarkable.

 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply