John Mayer and Michael Franti rolled into our town last week.
I’ve been a pretty solid fan of John Mayer since Continuum came out and have been wanting to see how he pulls it off live for some time. Franti on the other hand, I’ve had a tough time really getting into his music, but had heard great things about his live show. He delivered.
Franti is a non-stop hype man on stage. He or someone in the band was always trying to get the crowd involved. He would wonder into the crowd with his guitar and start playing. He would bring people on stage to jam and dance. He made an arena show intimate!
The guy has been a touring work-horse and a word of mouth success. I now understand why so many people love him. It’s his mission to spread good vibes and positive messages. The show is contagious. I still won’t download a record, but I’ll go see him live again for sure.
Franti Lesson 1 for all aspiring artists: Even if your music isn’t supremely awesome, making your live show a real experience will get people talking
Franti Lesson 2 for all aspiring artists: Get involved with the people. Franti was mingling with people in the crowd after the show instead of going directly backstage. People dig this. It shows he really cares. People talk about this kinda thing (I am writing about it right now).
On to John Mayer. This guy surrounds himself with immense talent. If you are a musician, you want to see this show. The jams in between songs sounded half-rehearsed, but you could tell there were moments that belonged to this show only. Steve Jordan’s drum solo was insanely fantastic (he only used the hi-hat, snare, and the kick drum and it still sounded majestic).
There was a moment when Robbie McIntosh (one of his guitar players) was playing a solo and there was no spotlight. Mayer had to actually point to the light guy to get the spot light on Robbie. That action alone conveys how much he cares about the musicians he’s playing with. I had pretty good seats and you could tell they were having fun on stage, which to me, is critical to enjoying the show.
The problem was that if you aren’t a musician or actually dig his music, the show itself wasn’t too much to talk about. You expect a real production these days from an artist who’s sold millions of records and been around for almost a decade.
Mayer Lesson 1 for all aspiring artists: This was John’s show so he could do what he wanted, but to get to this point, his focus has been on songs and musicianship. If there was no “No Such Thing” or “Your Body is a Wonderland” or “Daughters”, no arena tour would be happening.
Mayer Lesson 2 for all aspiring artists: The reason jam bands pack so many people is the potential of creating magic specific to the night of the show. Every show is different, it’s not a canned musical experience. John incorporates this element into his show, making each show a little bit special.
On an ending note, check out Steve Jordan’s drum solo at the Memphis, TN show below. F’n great!