Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Gig Archives: John Mayer at the Royal Albert Hall, 18/09/07

On this day five years ago, I saw John Mayer play at the Royal Albert Hall, his second of a two night stint at the venue.  At the time, it was my third time seeing him live, and even now after nineteen shows, this still remains as my favourite ever concert of his.

I had attended the first RAH show on the 17th, and though it was a great gig, I personally thought this performance on the 18th outshone the first by far.  Firstly, the atmosphere was miles better - the crowd seemed more invested in the gig, everyone was up on their feet singing along, and just generally more into the music than the first night.  I was lucky enough to be third row centre on the 18th, so being this close to the action would inevitably make for an amazing crowd atmosphere as well.

However, it was the setlist and overall musicianship of Mayer and his live band that made this such a unique performance.  As Continuum had been released the previous year, Mayer's tours around this time were based mainly around the album, and this show was no exception.  'Belief' and 'I'm Gonna Find Another You' were among my favourites to be heard from Continuum that evening, but as I listen back to the recording now, I realise what a fantastic version of 'I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)' he played.  Thanks to the sublime extended intros and addition of Bob Reynolds on sax, this track grew to become one of my favourites to hear live on the Continuum tours, and the version from this show is a fine example of this.

Despite this being a Continuum centric concert, Mayer did play a good mix of tracks from Room For Squares and Heavier Things.  At the time, his European setlists were not as adventurous as his American shows, which seemed to feature more album tracks and rare songs from earlier in his career.  I was pleasantly surprised with the inclusion of 'Your Body Is A Wonderland', which although a big hit, was (and still is!) hard to come by on a European setlist.

"This is a song about waking up feeling beautiful" Mayer said just before he played 'Clarity'.  As my all time favourite Mayer track, this was my highlight of the evening, and at only three songs into the performance, it set the scene for what was a truly memorable show.

'Waiting On The World To Change'
'I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)'
'Good Love Is On The Way'
'Why Georgia'
'The Heart Of Life'
'I Don't Need No Doctor'
'In Repair'
'Your Body Is A Wonderland'
'Bigger Than My Body'
'I'm Gonna Find Another You'

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Killers at Koko, 12/09/12

The Killers played three intimate shows in London this week, starting with the HMV Forum on Monday for a Radio 1 gig, followed by the iTunes festival at the Roundhouse on Tuesday and finally, an appearance at Koko on Wednesday, which was being recorded for Channel 4's London Live Series.  These gigs gave fans who were lucky enough to win tickets, the opportunity to see a band more used to selling out arenas, play in such small, intimate venues.  Though I was not successful in winning tickets for any of the shows, a fellow member of The Killers fanclub - The Victims - had a spare ticket to the Koko gig, which he very kindly gave to me.  Thank you, James!

As this show was being recorded for TV, the set was shorter than a standard gig - the band came on stage promptly at 8:00pm and were finished just before 9:00pm.  At almost an hour in length, the setlist inevitably consisted of the band's most well known singles (no previous album tracks here) along with four songs from Battle Born.

I had resisted from listening to any previews of the new songs until the album was released, so aside from 'Runaways', It was my first time hearing the new tracks in full, but great to experience them in a live setting.  Upon first listen of the new material, it sounds as though the band have made a clear departure from the sax driven sounds of Day & Age.  These new songs, in particular 'Miss Atomic Bomb', suggest the band have gone back to the basics of Hot Fuss, though 'Flesh And Bone' and 'Here With Me' bare traces of Brandon Flowers' solo project, Flamingo.  However, it is difficult to write a review based on just one listen, so I look forward to hearing the album in full when it's released on Monday.

The new material was well placed in a setlist featuring the band's most loved tracks.  Their signature synths were present throughout the show, but shone most on 'Smile Like You Mean It' and 'All These Things That I've Done' - my favourite tracks of the evening.  My one and only gripe is that there were moments when the sound was muddy, at times Flowers' vocals were unclear and occasionally lost in the music.  However, the overall sound improved as the gig progressed.
All in all, the band delivered a fantastic performance in an intimate venue bursting with energy and atmosphere.

'Smile Like You Mean It'
'Flesh And Bone'
'Here With Me'
'Miss Atomic Bomb'
'Mr. Brightside'
'When You Were Young'

'Somebody Told Me'
'All These Things That I've Done'