Trio Rocks the Uptown

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T here is nothing in the world quite like a John

Mayer concert.

Even better than just John is his new band.

The newly formed John Mayer Trio took the stage at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Mo. on Sept. 19 as part of their cross-country tour of intimate venues.

The trio is composed of Pino Palladino on bass, Steve Jordan on drums and-you guessed it-John Mayer on lead vocals and guitar.

Take it from a John Mayer concert-going veteran: No one in the audience was expecting this type of show.

Ninety-five percent of the audience came to hear the classic Mayer fare “Your Body is a Wonderland” and “Wheel,” not some new stuff they could not sing along to.

Mayer all but ignored his pop past and exposed his blues sensibility to the crowd.

The stripped-down show was not what longtime Mayer fans have come to know and love, but hardly in a bad way. It’s about time we heard something different from the guitar virtuoso.

The John Mayer Trio reeks of divine inspiration. Mayer has been called the greatest guitarist of his generation, while Palladino has played with The Who and Jeff Beck and Jordan with everyone from Bruce Springsteen to the Rolling Stones.

Both Jordan and Palladino are considered among the best in the industry with their respective instruments.

Mayer said that when he got together with Palladino and Jordan, “Something happened that I had hoped my entire life would happen, which is that thing about how a band got together for the first time, and everyone in the room just knew there was something special.”

This endeavor is an adventurous one for the 28-year-old Mayer. His devoted fan base isn’t used to this new, bluesy sound.

On this tour, everything from Mayer’s new, long hair to his stage presence is different. He looks less like the lovable, boyish geek and more like the coked-out lead singer of The Vines. But he’s still gorgeous, don’t worry.

The smoky-voiced Mayer just jammed out. The trio’s collective stage aura was relaxed and conversational; they didn’t even subject the audience to the customary, pretentious 10-minute teaser between the last song of the set and the encore.

“This trio tour isn’t just an excuse to blow on the guitar,” said Mayer. “It’s an opportunity to present my fans with something live, in the sense of living now-that classic palate.”

The set was about 11 songs, not including a couple teasers and aimless jam sessions.

Ray LaMontagne opened the show and got the crowd bopping in the sweltering theater.

Hardcore LaMontagne fans chanted along with their emotive, bearded idol, and the Mayer fans enjoyed the meditative music.

Surprisingly, the majority of the audience was over 25. With the new sound comes a more sophisticated crowd, I guess, though it made for an aloof, slightly boring atmosphere.

The small venue was standing room only, but comfortable enough for all the wasted adults in the audience to sway in time to the music.

Mayer didn’t play mainstream hit after hit; the bulk of the show was the trio’s brand new stuff like “Gravity,” “Vultures” and the first single “Who Did You Think I Was.”

The trio did an excellent cover of Kanye West’s “Golddigger.”

It sounds like an odd choice for a blues-rock trio, but it actually sounded just as tight sung as it does rapped.

In addition, the trio performed Mayer’s hits “Daughters” and “Something’s Missing” as an encore, pleasing the album devotees, giving the crowd some classic Mayer to end the night.

“There’s more than a couple of the tunes that I’ve already written that have gone to my records that will probably surprise people, because I think there’s more of a gritty core to some of these tunes than have been put on the records,” Mayer told MTV in a recent interview.

The John Mayer Trio’s first live album is due out Nov. 22. After the fall tour, Mayer is slated to record his third solo album, which is set to be released in 2006 for everyones’ listening pleasure.