If you're an O.G. John Mayer fan, you're probably waiting for another poppy hit like "Waiting on the World to Change," or a song that makes you cry the way "Gravity" did, or a guitar lick that instantly draws you in like the one that kicks off "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room." You've probably been listening to his more recent music thinking, "I feel like this isn't the same artist I fell in love with when Room for Squares was released and changed my life."
Fear not: his The Search for Everything Tour, planned to promote the release of his new full-length studio album of the same name (set to debut next Friday, April 14), is made for the fans who've been there since the beginning. Split into multiple 'chapters,' Mayer takes his audiences on a journey through the entirety of his career, playing sets with his full band, his trio (featuring legendary bass and drum duo Pino Paladino and Steve Jordan), and solo. The tour is also special in that it doesn't have a pre-determined set list: every show is different, allowing each city to have a different experience with him. At each show, he features songs from every album, digging into both his well-known songs and some more obscure tracks from his records, and introducing his fans to the new music that has been released on his The Search for Everything: Wave One/Two EPs. He even sprinkles in some mashups and covers.
At his concert at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, Mayer brought everything his audience could have asked for with his show, from bluesy guitar solos to his beautifully raspy vocals. His band clearly had great chemistry onstage, even extending intros or solo sections so they could continue jamming. The show was about genuinely making good music with a group of stellar musicians onstage, and that vibe translated throughout the entire stadium. The stage setup was simple -- just the band on a platform with real-time projections of the performers on the screen behind them overlayed on images and videos of various scenes (city lights, palm trees, and more) -- but it didn't seem empty.
After opening the show with a five-song set featuring his full band, John took the stage for an acoustic solo set saying, "[Performing now] feels better than it's ever felt in my life. If this is what home feels like, I love it. And the fact that you've all embraced the new music so freely and so deeply, that's been the best part."
He played acoustic renditions of two songs from his more recent discography before quieting the audience with a story: "When I was 11 and cleaning my room, I would watch MTV. So this next song, I used to listen to on MTV when I was cleaning my room, and it really influenced so many of my songs. This song isn't mine, but I need to pay tribute to it because it gave me so much." He then began the intro of his popular rendition of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'," to which the crowd erupted into cheers and whipped out their cell phone flashlights.
In between his solo and trio sets, a documentary-style video played on the screen, featuring Mayer, Paladino, and Jordan talking about their experiences as a group. The John Mayer Trio has not been active since their formation and sparse performances in 2005 (they released one live album, Try!, that same year), but Mayer is quoted in the video saying, "The trio Is a huge part of my musical career. I always knew that we would come back when the time was right."
Mayer closed his show by saying, "I want to thank you all for sticking with me while I write my music. You might have lost me for a couple albums, but I'm finally the artist I want to be, and I'm writing what I want to write, and I'm going to stick with it."
Clearly emotional, he continued, "There's a phrase that came to mind when I found out how many people wanted to come to my show: 'This doesn't happen.' You don't get 15, 16, 17 years of a career, and I really cannot thank you enough for continuing to support me and buying tickets to my shows. These songs of mine are just songs unless you all are there to listen, to make these songs the soundtrack of your life. Thank you for everything."
Chapter 1: Full Band
Moving On and Getting Over
Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
Waiting on the World to Change
War - Bob Marley & The Wailers Cover (David Ryan Harris singing)
Chapter 2: Acoustic
Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967
Emoji of a Wave
Free Fallin' - Tom Petty Cover
Chapter 3: Trio
Crossroads - Robert Johnson Cover
Bold as Love - Jimi Hendrix Cover
Chapter 4: Full Band (Reprise)
Stop This Train
Queen of California
Fire on the Mountain - Grateful Dead Cover
Still Feel Like Your Man
Love on the Weekend
Chapter 5: Epilogue
You're Gonna Live Forever in Me