- The Washington Times - Monday, August 23, 2004

For the past two summers, John Mayer has come to the Nissan Pavilion riding a wave of fanfare.

His first performance in 2002 followed the release of “Room for Squares,” his critically acclaimed debut album.

Similarly, last year’s Nissan appearance came on the heels of his sophomore CD, the equally heralded “Heavier Things.”

This year, however, there was no new album and no top single. Yet on Saturday, Mr. Mayer delivered not only his best performance to date at Nissan, but quite possibly the best show the venue has seen this summer.

Sharing the bill with DJ Logic and Maroon 5 — one of the year’s biggest acts, with three songs on Top 40 playlists nationwide — Mr. Mayer showcased his superstar mantle and assured his fans there’s more great music to come.

The key words for this year’s tour: bigger and better. In addition to his usual bassist, drummer and keyboardist, Mr. Mayer brought along two extra rhythm guitarists and a horn section. The expansion added multiple layers to his sound, lifting each song to a new fullness.

Kicking off his 16-song set with “Bigger Than My Body,” one of the biggest hits from “Heavier,” Mr. Mayer went on to include material from both CDs, including “My Stupid Mouth” (from “Room for Squares”) and “Come Back to My Bed,” again from “Heavier Things.”

He also offered a few covers, among them Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues,” which gave Mr. Mayer a chance to show off his dancing skills.

Missing was new material — something many fans had hoped to hear. Yet Mr. Mayer’s riveting guitar skills, coupled with his remarkable improvisation, shed new light on each song and brought the entire crowd (both young and old) to their feet by night’s end.

Maroon 5 was also at its peak. The Los Angeles quintet played a near flawless hourlong set of tunes culled from “Songs About Jane,” its debut LP. Powered by lead vocalist Adam Levine — who based “Jane’s” material on a real-life love gone bad — the band mixed its hits (which included “This Love” and “Harder to Breathe”) with a few of the album’s lesser-known songs, such as “The Sun” and “Through With You.”

Judging from their set, these guys have lots more hits ahead. Don’t be surprised if come next summer, Maroon 5 is headlining its own show.

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