John Mayer with Michael Franti & Spearhead
At Toronto’s Air Canada Centre,
February 14, 2010
By Sara Starkman
This Valentine’s Day, I got to spend the evening with the two men I love the most: my father, and the very talented, very sexy, John Mayer. Enraptured by the buzz of Toronto’s jam-packed Air Canada Centre, the energy was almost tangible.
Opening band Michael Franti & Spearhead had the entire stadium on their feet as Michael Franti, with guitar and a microphone, made his way through the crowd and personally serenaded audience members along the way. This hip-hop meets funk meets reggae band has been together for ten years, and has just recently cracked the Billboard Top 40. Although it has seemingly been a long and arduous journey for this talented group, rest assured that they will be selling out arenas with countless fans of their own in no time.
The energetic performance of Franti & Spearhead left a magical atmosphere in the arena, and as Mayer walked on stage and asked the audience at large to be his valentine, the magic only grew.
Dressed in a white collared shirt, converse sneakers, and a red tartan plaid vest, Mayer resembled a Palm Spring’s resident on his way to shuffleboard. Old and slow, however, are the last two words to describe John Mayer. Accompanied by a group of worthy musicians, Mayer and company played a selection of songs both old and new. The group also decided to have some fun and perform covers of timeless pieces like McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Real Love” by Mary J. Blige. Both songs had every audience member on their feet, in awe of the passion, soul, and flawlessness that came with Mayer’s personal spin of these great songs. His artbitrary outburst of rap improvisation also solidified his quick wit and lyrical aptitude.
Brilliant lyrics and audience rapport aside, Mayer’s musicianship was jaw-dropping. A modern-day Hendrix stood before us on stage, and played with his heart and soul for two and a half hours. He repeatedly paid gracious dues to his talented accompaniment, insisting the sincere honor he felt standing next to each and every musician and vocalist on stage. Needless to say, my date didn’t disappoint, and Valentine’s Day was a huge success.