At around 7:15 PM, as my friends and I were driving down I-75 to the Palace of Auburn Hills to see John Mayer and Ben Folds perform, the clouds decided to dump a few thousand gallons of water on the highway. We were unable to see the road more than ten feet ahead; some people even pulled to the side, as the rain was so intense.
And since we were in Michigan, the rain stopped shortly thereafter. Very shortly thereafter. But I have no right to complain. The show was solid and well-produced, if not a bit short.
Ben Folds opened for Mayer with a solid and well-produced set. Two moments of his set stick out in my mind. The first, when he played choir director by having the audience sing backup, “‘ahhh’s.” It got even better when he jumped atop his piano and emphatically directed the audience. The sound produced was almost angelic, despite the poor acoustics of the Palace. The second, when he picked up and played his synth like a keytar. And of course to close show Folds threw his stool at his piano.
Overall, Ben Folds’ set was comprehensive and very entertaining; the only problem is that he had to combat the architecture of the stadium. I realize that it was a concert in a stadium, but the sound seemed washed out even by concert standards.
John Mayer had to combat the poor acoustics as well, but seemed to handle them more easily. He opened his show with Neon, an unexpected, but very smart, choice for the opening song. He continued with more new songs than old, including Vultures, Belief and Gravity. But he also hit old favorites like No Such Thing. He nailed all of them, and integrated truly virtuous and unique solos into each song. His band, which included two other guitarists, two brass players, a keyboardist and (of course) drummer, all worked perfectly together.
Part one of his show ended all too early, but when the lights stayed off after his band left the stage for the first time, we all knew they would be back. And they were – Mayer and his two guitarists returned to play a short acoustic set that included the ever-popular Slow Dancing in a Burning Room. This was also very well done, but not nearly as exciting as his plugged-in set.
So his full band returned to close with an excellent rendition of I’m Gonna Find Another You, which featured solos from almost all the band’s members (oddly leaving the drummer out) and even mixed in a couple of lines from the Trio classic Who Did You Think I Was?.
The concert was, overall, very well put together and highly professional. A professional light and video show accompanied Mayer’s set and was very well integrated. The experience was very similar to that of a classic rock concert, especially since Mayers band all played like seasoned professionals.
Having hit Detroit, Mayer and Folds are now heading east to New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and Florida (among others). If you have the chance, go see the show. It will make you a fan of both Ben Folds and John Mayer, that is, if you aren’t already.
**The photos featured in this article are from various concerts; I am currently unable to get the photos I took off of my phone.