Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto - July 7, 2008

SEAN FITZGERALD -- For JAM! Music

, Last Updated: 3:09 PM ET

TORONTO - John Mayer writes perfect summer music, whether you like it or not.

Near the beginning of his 90-minute performance at the Molson Amphitheatre Monday night, Mayer asked audience members if they were ready to enjoy the "fresh, nubile beginnings" of the season.

"Let's get crazy in September," he said to the near-capacity crowd, "but for the next two months, let's just enjoy ourselves".

The comment encapsulated the feeling of the entire evening. While Mayer has evolved from the sensitive singer-songwriter reputation of his early years - he's traded sappy ballads for bluesy guitar solos - it's still what he's most known for.

And even if you wouldn't be caught dead with a Mayer album in your collection - which was the likely case for a number of boyfriends who got dragged along to the show - you had to give credit where credit was due.

This guy knows how to entertain.

Perhaps that's why he's released so many live albums in his decade-long career, including Where the Light Is, a live CD/DVD that hit stores last week.

As Mayer fans made their way to their seats, the show began with a brief set from California folk singer Brett Dennen, who found some fans with The One Who Loves You the Most, his catchy tune from a Rogers commercial.

Next, Colbie Caillat's pitch-perfect vocal harmonies and swirling organ lines fared much better. The poppy singer-songwriter, also from California, landed a one-two punch when she followed Bubbly - her breakout single - with a cover of The Jackson 5's I Want You Back.

Caillat was good, but she couldn't fully satisfy the Mayer contingent - a mish-mash of couples and young females experiencing their first summer of being of-age.

The audience roared as Mayer and his seven-man band finally arrived, swathed in violet by the stage lights. Heads bobbed as he ripped into Vultures, a soulful tune from 2006's Continuum.

But the party didn't start until the next song - the Grammy-winning Waiting on the World to Change. Fans on the lawn rose to their feet, interlocked their arms and chanted along with every word.

The set drooped a bit in the middle, as Mayer's extended guitar solos and lengthy blues jams seemed more fun for him than the audience. He should have tucked the wah-wah pedal away earlier, especially since some of his fans likely had to wake up for summer school the next day.

But Mayer won everyone back with a series of audience favourites, including Daughters, No Such Thing and Why Georgia. From that point on, he had people hooked.

Throughout the set, Mayer philosophized about his career, giving glimpses into his songwriting process and acknowledging the sickening catchiness of his singles.

Mayer appeared very self-aware, like a man who realizes that he must modify himself without changing too much.

He also seemed very comfortable at a venue like the Amphitheatre. This is his element, and he's a professional entertainer for a reason.

Even if you're unable to watch a Mayer music clip in it's entirety - or too embarrassed to say you searched for it on YouTube - there's no denying good showmanship and a great performance. There's no denying the feeling that results from one man and an acoustic guitar turning thousands of strangers into a cohesive unit for a few hours.

Sometimes, it's nice to just push life aside for a bit and enjoy poppy melodies in the summer.

The serious stuff can wait until September.


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