John Mayer gets back on track

John Mayer’s controversial interview with Playboy earlier this month did not prevent him from performing to a nearly sold-out Verizon Center Saturday night, impressing the crowd with his velvety vocals and expert guitar playing.

Mayer was playful onstage and seemed to be in high spirits, despite the backlash to overly candid comments he made in a recent interview with the magazine. In the interview, first published in February, he discussed his relationships with Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson (who he called “sexual napalm”), his love of pornography and how he is not attracted to black women.

While he didn’t ignore the scandal completely, he referred to it only vaguely, mumbling incoherently about “being insincere.”

Ultimately, Mayer did what he does best – show off his guitar chops with fluid solos and never-ending riffs. Aside from playing songs from his newest album, “Battle Studies,” Mayer included most of his biggest hits in his two-hour set. An acoustic medley of songs off “Room For Squares” – like “Your Body Is A Wonderland” and “Neon” – transformed the concert into a sing-along with the audience.

After the first song, Mayer took his jacket off, causing a wave of excitement to travel through the audience – his toned and tattooed arms were definite crowd-pleasers.

The night was stable overall – there were no climatic moments. Even his encore wasn’t quite encore-like; mellow tracks like “Who Says” and “Gravity” did not evoke the intensity that can be found in some of his other hits. Although the crowd was satisfied, a massive build-up of anticipation didn’t precede the encore either. While a John Mayer concert isn’t likely to lead to crowd-surfing or deafening roars in the audience, the end still felt a little flat.

Reggae and hip-hop combo Michael Franti and Spearhead opened the show with a high-energy performance, playing, among other songs, their hit “Say Hey (I Love You).” Mayer invited Franti back onstage to sing “Waiting on the World to Change,” incorporating Franti’s inspirational rapping into the song.

Mayer ended the night on a genuine note, thanking his fans for not only buying a ticket with his name on it, but for believing that a ticket to his concert was the equivalent to a ticket out of a “bad day, bad week or bad year.”

“Thank you from the bottom of my somewhat delirious heart,” he said.

A large majority of the concert audience consisted of high school and college students. Junior Carolin Perez said that after this concert, she considered herself to be an even bigger fan of John Mayer.

“I just think his guitar playing skills really stood out,” said Perez.

“Musically, he is just so talented,” graduate student Nora Zenczak said. Of course, after being asked about his Playboy interview, she said she had to “separate [my] mind from that [because] he is just so good.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.