For certain people my age, upon telling them I was seeing John Mayer in concert I received both eye rolling and scoffing. For them, his name is synonymous with the poppy, love songs he was known for upon first coming onto the music scene back in 2001. Songs like “Your Body is a Wonderland.” But their ignorance (and lack of appreciation for an artist’s early work) is unfortunate because they have no idea that John Mayer is one of the greatest guitar players of our generation. And his blues playing ability is simply intoxicating. I’d put him with the likes of Eric Clapton, B.B King, Gregg Allman, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. With the exception of Vaughan, Mayer has played along side the aforementioned legends and carried his own. If you don’t believe me, feel free to look up YouTube videos of the performances.
So, it was no wonder that Mayer played a mash up of his early hits “Why Georgia” and “No Such Thing” near the opening of his The Search for Everything stop at Riverbend on Saturday night and quickly moved on. Outside of “Daughters,” which was played later in the show, Mayer did little to acknowledge his first two albums. Instead, Mayer chose to focus on his more mature, sophisticated work. For example, during “CHAPTER 3: TRIO” of the show (the concert was broken down into distinct chapters), Mayer, along with Steve Jordan on drums and Pino Palladino on bass, otherwise known as the John Mayer Trio, played a mini-set consisting of “Who Do You Think I Was,” “Everyday I have the Blues,” and “Vultures” with each song aptly showcasing Mayer’s blues playing acumen.
Mayer also showed off his sense of humor breaking into a monologue about dating woes, meeting that person’s brothers and sisters, and trying to remember their names and ages. He called it his attempt at stand-up comedy and was reminiscent of a Jerry Seinfeld routine, but was ultimately a success judging by the crowd’s reaction.
Off of his newest album, which also bears the name of the tour, Mayer opened the show with “Helpless” that included a small interlude of “Miss You” by The Rolling Stones, and scattered in “Moving On and Getting Over,” “Love on the Weekend,” “Rosie,” and “In the Blood” during Chapters 1 and 4, which were labeled “FULL BAND” and “FULL BAND (Reprise).” Additionally, with the entire band gone, Mayer played “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me” on the piano during “CHAPTER 5: EPILOGUE” that closed the encore and ended the night.
Other highlights were Mayer’s cover of “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty, the poignant “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room,” and the encores of “I’m Gonna Find Another You” and “Gravity,” the latter of which drew probably the biggest applause of the night and included a sample of “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember” by Otis Redding.
Unfortunately, this review can never accurately describe or do any semblance of justice to the show put on by Mayer and his band mates, but let’s suffice it to say that it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. And there certainly was no eye rolling or scoffing by anyone in attendance. So, if you’re one of those people who fall into the John Mayer doubter category, I say go see him in concert. I can promise you your mind will be changed.