The Pilgrimage: John Mayer Concert Review, Heat, Usual Suspects, Matchless Independence, & for Some Reason Orlando Bloom
This is the account of the next concert pilgrimage. Edge Watch 2009 was gorgeous, and as we wait for June to bring Edge Watch 2010: the Continued Quest to Express my Love for Edge’s Tone in a Way He Can’t Deny and Might Even be a Little Frightened by, we had to pacify ourselves with John Mayer. He’s an okay guitarist…I guess. For those of you who don’t know, I am married…which is quite amazing, considering my ongoing love affair with tone; who is herself, a very harsh and unforgiving mistress. (Much like gravity…and if you can name that one, ya. I’m seriously going to give you…well, bonus points for an imaginary tally.) So my wife must be pretty rad. And she is. U2 for my last birthday, and John Mayer for this one. Like, concerts. She’s not actually wrapping up Edge and John Mayer for me as gifts like Christmas Vacation or anything. And I choose not to say whether or not I would be pleased by that. So this is the concert review, and the pilgrimage review. For those of you who come here just for the pictures, you’ll enjoy this one. For those of you who come here actually hoping I reviewed another amp for once…well…that’s in here too, but you’ll have to dig. So I suggest, that like tone, you just enjoy the journey. I mean, if you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t be here. My whole inside of my head is a journey most of the time.
So…Disneyland first. The nice thing about living in Southern California is that you get to see all the shows, go to Hollywood, Disneyland, Malibu…whenever you want. The bad thing about living in Southern California is this:
And that’s still in Corona, people. It should take us 25 minutes to get from our apartment to Anaheim. Every single back road was jacked like this, because of 3 accidents on the 91. Took us 3 hours. Luckily, Jamianne had the Kevin & Bean St. Patrick’s Day podcast on her iPod, so we got to listen to them play clips from all 6 Leprechaun movies, including ‘Leprechaun 6: Back 2 the Hood.’ That’s a real movie. As in they wrote a script, filmed actor’s playing the script, and put it on a dvd. All the while with the knowledge that they were doing all this for a movie called ‘Leprechaun 6: Back 2 the Hood.’ The world is dying.
We all know what Disneyland is like, so I won’t bore you with that. Plus, it means a lot to Jamianne and I, so I definitely won’t bore you with that. But we had a good time. And hidden mickey’s? So real:
Alright, already! Calm down. (Don’t know who I’m metaphorically talking to right now.) John Mayer is next. Almost. See, he was playing at the Staples Center, and as we were hanging out before the concert, whom should we see…but… Okay. If there were one person in the whole world whom you’d think you’d never see, not because he was so famous, but because your brain had forgotten he even existed, who would it be? Correct. AC Slater.
Doing some sort of ESPN spot. Hmm…maybe KCAL 9 or something. Saved by the Bell & Animal Planet don’t usually mean free pass to ESPN.
Still needed bodyguards, though. Never underestimate the fame that is Saved by the Bell.
Okay, okay! I just spent 3 pictures on Mario Lopez. Apologies. I think I was just excited to find that I was taller than Bayside’s buffest cat. (Yep, that’s how I chose to word that sentence.) On to John Mayer.
I got excited for a second that maybe we had missed that there would be a special guest with John Mayer, but then Jamianne explained to me how the seating signs worked.
I wanted to just enjoy the concert, so no pictures or low quality video footage. hehe So for you musicians out there, this is the meat of the post. The things I learned from John Mayer:
- His tone is crying good. And you can tell a lot of it comes from his finger attack, both on acoustic and electric. Very soulful player, and that seems to come through on his touch, too.
- For those of you who don’t like John Mayer, you’ve got to see him live. It’s like an improvised blues concert over some themes that may have once been John Mayer radio songs. Really awesome stuff, and it appears he does the songs differently each night. Great musicianship there to do that, both from him and his team.
- His drummer, Steve Jordan, did the best and most tasteful drum solo I have ever heard……on just a kick, snare, and hi-hat. It was like hearing music for the first time.
- Somehow…and I mean somehow…John Mayer finds a way to be tasteful and soulful while playing too many notes. I mean, technically, he plays way too much! But it still sounds good, which is the ultimate point. I’m kind of a little bit impressed by him right now. I have been for a while, after seeing the Where the Light is dvd where he opens for himself twice, on acoustic and with a blues trio; but actually being there, was pretty spectacular.
- Okay, get this. Both John Mayer and the guitarist for the opening band used dotted eighth and dotted quarter delay. Splendid. Just goes to show you that it’s a tool, and when used sparingly, can enhance songs without necessarily conjuring up thoughts about U2. I mean, sure, if you’re going to play a fast song with a pulsing kick beat, and the same chords as Streets, and you use it, then maybe people will hear U2. But just as a tool? Especially lower in the mix, or on dotted quarters with more repeats? Hey, pop star and blues guitarist John Mayer just got away with it.
- And speaking of the opening band, they were actually decent. Michael Franti & Spearhead. Great stage presence from the singer (I’m guessing Michael Franti), and he even did a song on acoustic and walked around the whole place while singing it, taking time to dance with a couple exuberant fans. I thought that was way cool.
- Only bad thing about the opening band was that they tended to drag out the ends of songs. Like a lot. So you went from, ‘Cool!’ to ‘Alright, good song’ to ‘For the love of everything that’s good in this world, are you going to sing another chorus?’ Definitely something to remember for worship music. By chorus 33, and build-back-in 5, it might be crossing into the land of self-indulgence now, not leading of the Spirit. Just a thought.
- John Mayer also had backup singers. They were funny. Tight harmonies; but they danced. Reminded me of Sister Act.
- He played electric most of the night. And so did his two other guitarists, Robbie McIntosh, and David Ryan Harris. And they orchestrated themselves so well, it rarely became too much.
- Speaking of Robbie McIntosh, he was playing a little 2×12 amp sitting on the ground, a couple pedals, and one guitar. And then a tangled mess of wires connecting it all up. Pretty cool to see that type of rig in front of 40,000 people, instead of the usual ultra-clean midi/rackmount setup. The boutique gearhead in me dug it a lot!
- John Mayer didn’t talk!! He just played!! Best part of the night. See, he likes himself. A lot. And I can’t stand it when he opens his mouth to do anything but sing. But after his recent, uh…’racially provocative’ comments, I think he has finally realized that rockstars, no matter how famous, are not untouchable. In fact, they are usually only a few poorly placed comments away from the public losing interest and skipping the concert to see Clash of the Titans (oh dear sweet mercy, please no) instead. So, it was a much more gracious and unassuming John Mayer than I have ever seen. Quite refreshing.
- Slow Dancing in a Burning Room almost killed me. In the most wonderful way possible.
And lastly…and here’s where the concert changed me personally…I think I’m going to start to institute a little thing called practice. I’m learning that I kind of feel somewhere in my mind, that if I practice too much, I’m going to lose soul and heart in my playing. Mr. Mayer is proving that this is not the case. And my chops definitely need to improve. Not so that I can solo more during worship or any type of gig, but so that I can choose better notes, and make those few notes sound better. And perhaps some better and more technical technique can be used for certain new textures, while still not drawing attention to itself.
This was especially evident this last weekend, as for some reason, I decided to play guitar for a Sunday evening service, on top of the 6 services I’d led at my home church that weekend. (We’re not that big of a church, we just have a small worship center. haha) I normally play for that church on Sunday nights, and it’s not a problem. But it’s also not normally Easter…with 6 services. And I have this bad habit of over-estimating myself. And then my body just stops and says, ‘What are you doing?’ So I’m leading this song over there on guitar, and dear sweet mercy. I felt so bad for the singer trying to sing over me fumbling through it like Nicolas Cage reading his lines off of cue cards in ‘Bad Lieutenant.’ (Yep, that’s the name of the movie. As in, ‘What is this movie about?’ ‘Well, it’s about a bad lieutenant…’ and then they called it that. I’m getting the feeling that the movie studios are now just throwing Nic Cage the dumbest movies they can think of, and then taking bets as to when he will finally realize it and turn a script down. I mean, it’s the only possible explanation for Bad Lieutenant. Bangkok Dangerous. National Treasure 2. Drive Angry. Those are real titles! Giving Leprechaun 6: Back 2 the Hood, a run for its money. Okay, where was I? Oh ya! Being a terrible guitar player.) So, my guitar playing sounded like Nicolas Cage. That’s what I’m trying to say. It was awful. And all that to say, more practice is never a bad thing. Because I’m sitting there watching John Mayer, and I’m thinking, ‘Ya. So, I don’t even play the guitar.’
And if you’ve never seen him live, here’s a clip. Gorgeous.
Oh, and here is the one picture I took of the John Mayer concert.
They projected lights and images on that mosquito screen around the stage for the first song, before pulling it back. But I think it was really just protection for the Dumble.
And, because I can’t seem to help myself:
Sorry, I had to put that in. If that doesn’t make you want to hurt your own face, then…well, there is no then. It does make you want to hurt your own face. That is the only possible answer.
So, after John Mayer redefined my life, the pilgrimage began.
For those of you who have read this blog for a while, you’ll recognize this place. Because I have an unhealthy obsession with the film Heat. Very much so. So every so often, I feel the need to um, recreate it for some reason. And my wife? She actually enjoys this stuff, too. If ever there was a match made in Heaven…
That’s me. Right where this happened:
Awesomest birthday ever. And see that guy in the background? That’s the fuzz. Told us we couldn’t take pictures there. Guess I was a little too convincing with my Kilmer and DeNiro impressions, and he thought we were doing recon work for a caper. Yep.
(There was also another movie filmed here…for like, 2 seconds. Bonus points for the imaginary tally if you can name that one.)
Now, there is also a scene where Pacino and DeNiro sit down for ‘a cup of coffee.’ ‘Ya. Sure.’ Because Pacino doesn’t have enough evidence against DeNiro yet, but he still knows he did it! But there’s respect there, so does he really want to arrest him?! It’s amazing! Such is the glory of Heat. So we went to Kate Mantlini’s for dinner, where they have this giant photo on their wall, commemorating the moment when time for that restaurant stood still:
You have never seen me happier:
They even asked who wanted to be Pacino and who wanted to be DeNiro for this photo. I love Kate Mantilini’s. And my wife…who has to put up with…well, me.
And then, what LA trip is complete without Matchless? So off to Guitar Center Hollywood.
- Playing an R8 Gibson through it. Good feeling guitar, and decent tone…little raspy.
- Clean channel on the Independence was better than I ever thought EL34′s could deliver. Whoa.
- Two separate gain channels, footswitchable. Very cool.
- Gain on EL34′s is not really my style, though. So Marhsall-y. However, really good, throaty, moving Marshall-y through this thing.
- As always, I highly suggest Matchless. Sell pedals to get a Matchless. That’s how seriously I adore them. And that is very serious.
To Hugo’s for lunch. Jamianne is gluten-free, source, and vegan. I am…trying. But the nice thing about the vegan places? You get to see Christoph Waltz:
Ya! Covert ops picture. We would have said hi, but he was engrossed in some type of legal conversation. Plus, we’d be put in the awkward position of having to say, ‘Mr. Waltz! We love your work! You’re amazing. Just plain inspirational. Oh, and uh…hi, Orlando.’
Yep, Orlando Bloom. Not…well…not… Okay. I’m not a huge fan. But it was cool to eat lunch next to Legolas. And ya, I know you can’t tell from the pictures that it’s them. I couldn’t use the camera because I had to pretend I was too cool to care that there were celebrities in the restaurant, and that I was just texting people, of course. At times like these, I actually do wish I had an iPhone. And that lady was a lawyer, or personal assistant or something. She was having the time of her life, and kept saying ‘Orlando.’ hehe
And lastly, because San Pedro is just a 20 mile, 3 hour drive away from Hugo’s on Santa Monica, you’ve got to go Usual Suspects, too:
Thrilling just to be there. I have issues, but this is not the point.
There they are! We stood where Verbal stood. Amazing.
Benicio Del Toro did this there, so of course I had to:
And if you’ve seen the film, it’s really frightening how well my wife does her Gabriel Byrne impression from this scene, hair blowing in the wind and all:
She is the best.
And in the vein of not taking yourself seriously, here is the most awkward photo you can imagine. We tried to think of how Michael Scott from The Office would pose, and then…well…
There is no reason you can give me for why I should ever be allowed to do that. But I figure, if I’m gonna rip on Nicolas Cage and Orlando Bloom, I gotta make some fun of myself as well. So now every time you hear me flub a note in a demo video, you can just think of this picture and go, ‘Ah. Well that makes sense.’
So I hope this journey has been enjoyable, perhaps insightful, and definitely a little awkward. Just like tone. Except that with tone, that last picture would be just a tad more beautiful, and with just a tad less ‘Um…’
Oh, and we take the leather off when we go into the vegan places.