Riverbend Music Center - Cincinnati, Ohio - September 5, 2006

Mayer, Crow pack Riverbend
Concert review

A large and enthusiastic crowd that we can assume did not include Cincinnati’s own Nick Lachey took in a double bill of John Mayer and Sheryl Crow at Riverbend Tuesday night, a bill that should have been sponsored by US Weekly or People.

That Mayer and Crow make their livings as musicians is somewhat of an afterthought compared to the news of who they are or are not dating, especially in the case of Mayer, who has recently been linked to Lachey’s ex Jessica Simpson.

Then again, maybe the weeklies are onto something. Maybe it’s better to look at Mayer and Crow’s pretty pictures than to listen to their music.

Mayer, the bluesy guitarist who melds soul and pop, was the headliner. He and Crow take turns through the tour going last. It’s only fair, since judging by this show neither is more entertaining than the other.

It’s hard to get excited by Mayer’s guitar-soloing, falsetto-singing soul-man act while there are still Curtis Mayfield CDs in print. In fact, as an ax slinger and a vocalist, the man he most resembles is Eric Clapton – not the Clapton of the Yardbirds or Cream or Derek and the Dominos or “461 Ocean Boulevard,” but the Clapton of the ‘80s who made bad records and beer commercials. It wouldn’t have been out-of-place to see the Michelob logo appear behind Mayer as he made blues-guitar face contortions, ripping off the opening lines to the new song “Belief.”

When he cut most or all of those sorts of things out of his act, as in the songs “No Such Thing,” “Why Georgia” and “My Stupid Mouth,” he had the crowd’s attention and proved why he’s a force in pop music.

Like Mayer, who played for about 80 minutes, Crow kept it short. Her 75-minute set omitted two of her biggest songs, “All I Wanna Do” and “Leaving Las Vegas,” as she went for a mostly slow-paced show that had the crowd sitting half the time.

Even without the busting out the two showpieces she still had plenty of hits to put forth, like “A Change Will Do You Good,” “Steve McQueen,” “Every Day is a Winding Road” and “If It Makes You Happy.” But she seemed intent on rounding things out with the slow stuff, from a cover of “The First Cut is the Deepest” to lesser-known songs like “Home” and “I Know Why.”

At the very least, she put Mayer to good use, bringing him out for lead guitar on “My Favorite Mistake.” He might be a derivative, third-generation soul-blues bandleader, but he made a pretty good side man.

Show opener Mat Kearney presented a somewhat interesting combination of hip-hop flow and bland folk-rock, presenting an answer to the age-old question of what Marshall Mathers would have sounded like had he grown up on Dan Fogelberg.

Source: Cincinnati.com / Enquirer