Air Canada Centre, Toronto - February 14, 2010

JASON MacNEIL - Special To QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:52 AM ET

TORONTO - Whether it was Valentine’s Day, or the fact that the only solace he might have found last week was on stage, John Mayer thankfully let his music do most of the talking on Sunday night.

After getting himself in a huge self-inflicted mess during a recent Playboy interview which included some highly inane, derogatory comments, Mayer apologized for his remarks during a Nashville show last Wednesday.

And while the controversy from those statements is far from dead, the guitarist and the near-capacity Air Canada Centre at least forgot about them during an interesting 140-minute set.

Touring behind his new album Battle Studies, Mayer and his seven-piece band opened with Heartbreak Warfare with the lyric “you’re talking s--- again” definitely packing more punch considering what transpired. Wearing a checkered jacket, Mayer quickly ventured into his often underrated blues playing during Crossroads as psychedelic images and swirls were shown on the large video screen behind him.

Greeting the crowd, Mayer began what would be an ongoing discussion on Valentine’s Day prior to Perfectly Lonely, a light, soul-meets-pop ditty which got a good response. Later he showed a Valentine’s Day card a youngster gave him and recalled the conversation he had with the young boy, a conversation revolving around if Mayer needs to burp sometimes when he’s singing.

Mayer had a few highlights during his 16-song set, but there were some forgettable moments including a cover of Tom Petty’s Free Falling, something quite sacrilege to this diehard Petty fan. As well the deliberate, moody Assassin died a slow, miserable death from the beginning with the imagery of radars and scanners not doing much to help.

Even when these songs sagged a bit, Mayer’s seasoned cast of musicians put a silver lining on them, from drummer Steve Jordan playing off Mayer’s riffs to former Wings guitarist Robbie McIntosh leading the way through the gentle crowd pleaser Say.

Talking a bit more than expected, and with the reported 105-minute set no longer remotely possible, Mayer hit the homestretch with another Petty-ish track Half Of My Heart that the audience drowned him out on occasionally. This resulted in a call-and-response with the crowd as he worked in a bit of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams for good measure.

A tight Bigger Than My Body ensued but Mayer went off on a tangent for the next 10 minutes, belting out a cover of Wings’ Maybe I’m Amazed before bringing out a bucket of white and roses to toss into the crowd and then rapping about Valentine’s Day as the band followed his lead.

Having gotten that out of his system, Mayer reined things back in with the roots-y Georgia to end the two-hour main set.

“It’s been a long night in Toronto!” he said before the two-song encore of Who Says and Gravity.

Considering Mayer’s week, it probably wasn’t nearly long enough.


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