Favourites · Music · Reviews

You Had Me At Wonderland



Dear John,

We all have a few musicians we like to call our favourites.

As fans, we dutifully buy the albums, play it over and over. We share a song with friends, argue over its charming lyrics and composition. Still, I have never dreamt that I would spend money flying to another country, never thought that I would invent an itinerary just to see my favourite musican perform live.

I did that for you.

Seeing you live at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Australia on April 15 was more than a dream come true. I already knew that you would be fabulous on stage live. I found that out when I saw you perform for the first time in Melbourne in 2007. I lost my voice that evening. This time though, I was happy just to listen to your voice, your skills on the guitar and soak it all in.

I was drenched in magical music.

Grace Potter and her band The Nocturnals opened up for you. Grace had an edgy voice, the songs were interesting. I admit I was hoping that she would finish her set fast. I couldn’t wait to see you again.

It wasn’t long before you appeared with your band. I was sitting all the way at the back and you were a petite size S from way back there. Still, my heart raced when you quickly dove into Queen of California from your album Born & Raised. The journey had begun. From then it was a smooth transition to Paper Doll from your Paradise Valley album.

Next, you sang the lyrically controversial Who Says. The single from Battle Studies album had tongues wagging around the world with the opening line ‘Who says I can’t get stoned”.  Despite its debatable significance, the song about standing up to your inner bully was among the popular songs of the evening- judging from the response from the audience.

As much as I enjoyed listening to you sing, I was waiting for you to speak and you did soon enough,  getting to know us, your fans better. When you sang I Don’t Trust Myself, I fell in love with that song all over again. Listening to Speak For Me, Half Of My Heart and a cover of Henry Whitter’s Going Down The Road Feelin’ Bad, you got be thinking folk-music isn’t so boring after all.

Maybe the audience in Adelaide was quiet because they preferred to focus on your guitar skills rather than shouting on top of their voices. Still, you had your share of declarations of love that evening, even from a guy who asked you to marry him (Hilarious!)

You won’t even begin to know how much I loved your cheeky interludes in between songs. I didn’t think you would play Slow Dancing In A Burning Room but you did! I loved it, just as much as Stop This Train, a song about growing older and its challenges, from Continuum. I’ve watched you play Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ so many times on Youtube, but being there when you performed that song, it never sounded better.

Then just as expected, you left with the band before returning to stage without fuss to transform Beyonce’ s XO in your own, gentle, cool way. Before you know it, it was time for the last song and you chose Gravity, a song that proved that you were as good songwriter as you were a guitarist. You gave me plenty to think about On The Way Home. When you sang Wildfire, I thought that perhaps you had psychic powers were privy to my (song) wish list. You did that cool cover of Van Morrisson’s And It Stoned Me before moving on to Waiting On The World To Change and Age of Worry. That’s when you dropped the bomb and told us that you have four more songs to play. You didn’t give us much time to contemplate this revelation though, carrying on with your “classic” and my favourite Why Georgia from first album Room For Squares and Dear Marie, from the latest.

Two hours zoomed into 20 minutes when you performed. Still, it was a great concert, one that I would think about for years to come. Since your first confession in Your Body Is a Wonderland, to your ode to women in Daughters, revealing your Shadow Days and explaining why Love is a Verb, you been through a lot – and this is reflected in the songs of various genres you explored. I never thought that I would like country music, or blues and folk, but thanks to your courage to experiment I’m now open to more genres. 

Despite your misadventures in your personal life and your “stupid mouth”, I believe that deep down inside, you’re just a man, making sense of life through songs. I am and will always remain, your biggest fan.

You had me at Wonderland.





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