Scotiabank Place, Ottawa - April 20, 2007

ANN MARIE MCQUEEN - Sun Media

, Last Updated: 5:36 AM ET

OTTAWA - As the 6,200 fans he mesmerized at Scotiabank Place last night during a trim 90-minute show can attest, John Mayer manages to be both serious musician and laid-back crooner at the same time.

Mayer started with instrumental blues, setting the tone for a low-key night that could have been boring were he not so self-possessed and subtle.

With a six-piece band boasting three guitars, Mayer, favouring a six-string Stratocaster, meandered through material from an accomplished career that isn't yet a decade long.

Last year's Continuum, his third major-label album, has clearly sunk in, with fans screaming for weighty, soul-searching tunes like Belief Gravity, and I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You).

Mayer expertly channelled Ray Charles on a cover of I Don't Need No Doctor, and belted out the great line "Am I livin' it right?" on the crowd-pleaser Why Georgia.

Girlfriend Jessica Simpson, who has been keeping Mayer company on his tour and landing him in gossip mags, was not along for the ride.

Predictably, Mayer drew his share of female adoration, those tousled dark locks and super sexy voice probably having something to do with it.

The night melded Mayer's social conscience -- last year's anthem, Waiting on the World to Change, for example -- and renowned sensitive-guy lyrics, like an acoustic, sing-a-long version of Your Body is a Wonderland and hopeful Good Love Is On the Way.

He drew on the best of old blues and R&B, even jamming old-country style. Mayer rarely moves above mid-tempo, but manages to keep things interesting through punchy guitar solos, soothing finger-picking and effortlessly morphing vocals from breathy to falsetto on favourites like Bigger Than My Body from 2003's Heavier Things.

Kathleen Edwards seemed to be having a ball opening for Mayer in her home town. She played a 45-minute set, which included Hockey Skates from 2003's Failer and the infectious title track from 2005's Back To Me.

Edwards cajoled the initially sleepy crowd into pepping up a little, warning they might "blow a vocal cord" if they didn't practise their yelling before Mayer came out.

With a pedal steel guitarist providing her requisite alt-country twang and old buddy Jim Bryson on for added support, Edwards also laid down a respectable cover of Dolly Parton's Wildflowers.


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