Rexall Place, Edmonton - April 28, 2007

-- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:50 AM ET

EDMONTON - Chicks love the Mayer.

When you're waiting at will call for the Sony Music Canada promotions representative to drop off your reviewer tickets for John Mayer and you strike up a conversation with a very attractive woman, also waiting for the Sony man, who says she loves John Mayer and asks whether you do also, the answer, by God, is "YES!" Trust me, I won't be screwing that one up again.

OPINION

That isn't to say I don't like John Mayer; I just never had much of an opinion on him, his steamroller of a career mysteriously eluding my IPod playlist, assuming I had an IPod. But after a crash course into his back catalogue over the course of the last week, I was ready to be wowed by his show at Rexall Place last night.

And, well, I understand the appeal, anyway. When I interviewed Mayer, he was pretty unabashed about playing pop, but it was hard not to pull out the pop reference markers during his set.

On the intro to Good Love is on the Way, for example, he sounded an awful lot like Billy Ocean and he was a dead ringer for Sting on Don't Trust Myself.

And if you compared anything from Mayer's oeuvre to material from Dave Matthews's back catalogue, you wouldn't be far wrong. Chances are that many in the far from sold-out crowd of 9,000 at Rexall have albums by Mayer and Matthews in their CD collection. Mayer never seems to enunciate, either; every song sung in a series of vowels, his mouth never quite closing before having to deliver another lyric.

Those lyrics, however, as the foyer gal informed me, are the key to Mayer's success, his hold on women. But because of his style of delivery, they never quite carried over in the concert setting.

Maybe my testosterone's to blame.

But the boy can play a mean guitar.

There's no denying Mayer's mastery of it. He told the crowd that the first single he ever bought was Kermit the Frog's Rainbow Connection, which is amazing because who knew that song was even made available as a single?

Who knew it would also inspire him to eventually tackle riffs the likes of which Eric Clapton would have to respect?

Mayer is also smart enough to surround himself with an equally capable band - a lead guitarist killing solos on the rare occasions Mayer wasn't strumming them himself. Or a solid drummer whose steady drum sound would make anything sung over it sound sublime.

For the encore, Mayer, unfettered, played what was probably his best tune of the night in Split Screen Sadness and, pleasing the masses even more, Your Body Is A Wonderland.

Opening the night up, Ottawa's Kathleen Edwards delivered a solid set of a particular sound that's become almost a staple of the pop-folk-country crossover genre. She's got a breathless delivery akin to Beth Orton, Dido or Cranberries lead singer Dolores O'Riordan.

Round here, though, she comes off very Sarah McLachlan-esque. That's hardly a dig at Edwards, however, and if you're going to be compared to people, that's a pretty enviable and esteemed bunch.

She's also a charmer, her candor and easy-going style drifting beautifully over her band's dreamy, melodic sound, particularly her pedal-steel guitar player - and aside from the sitar, it's the toughest instrument in the world to play, Edwards told the crowd.

SCREAM

"Look at all the pretty ladies at the front," she said. "Are you happy with your seats? There's a responsibility that comes with sitting in the front row. It means you have to scream 10 times as loud."

And they did all night long. It might not have been a sellout show, but it sure did sound like it.


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