Quick review today before more of the details escape me! I was fortunate enough to see John Mayer and his band last Thursday May 11th at the O2. My first time witnessing the man in person. A friend of mine had introduced me to John’s music while we studied together at music school, and I was particularly smitten with his ‘Live in LA’ album/DVD. Which, as you will find out shortly, is very relevant for this concert! We were seated in one of the lower sections of the venue, with a great vantage point of the stages. I am fairly sure it sold out on both nights that he was playing, which even John was impressed with.
On the Live in LA album, John split his concert into different sections, featuring one hugely popular trio with Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino. Both monstrously and highly sought after musicians in their own right. For this London show at the O2 (and much of the tour, I’m sure) he brought the trio back, to thunderous applause. It’s always amazing how talented musicians can be, and those three are really near the top of their game when it comes to both sheer musicality and performance. This concert was similar to the LA album, with a running video backdrop and the show curated into sections. I am hoping this means it was all recorded for another live album, but it really made for a unique and incredible experience. Exactly what people go to concerts to get!
The concert was split into Full Band, Acoustic, Trio, Full Band (Reprise), an emotional one song encore and then an epilogue, which saw John playing piano with a white backdrop. If I am completely honest, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was, as I haven’t heard a lot of his material since that Live in LA album. Some of my fondest memories of John are from the Dave Chapelle skit he did with people reacting to guitar music, so I always knew the man could put on a performance. But he really is every bit the showman you have heard, and then some.
In line with my previous comment about keeping it short, I will say that the pacing of the concert was incredible, and if you could give an award for backdrop design (I can’t get over how good it was) the people working on his tour should win every single one. Some bands don’t bother, some just go for a few fancy angles, but they really went all out with the video show. I will drop a setlist below, but a few songs stood out for me, with special moments from John’s career. One was during his acoustic set, when he brought out Robbie McIntosh to perform ‘Daughters’. Robbie was on the Live in LA album, and really elevated this song to another level! With the trio, John was performing some guitar wizardry in a long improvised jam before going into ‘Vultures’, and just seeing those three groove together filled everyone around me with such a positive energy.
David Ryan Harris
When it came to the full band returning, David Ryan Harris (who, somehow, I had never heard of!) introduced the Mayer staple ‘Slow Dancing In A Burning Room’ with one of the nicest Prince covers I have heard in a while, delivering part of ‘The Beautiful Ones’ in an impressive falsetto range. And to finish the show with the band in the biggest way possible, they ended with ‘Gravity’. With the stage lights had been shut off! The audience whipped out their phones (for once, not constantly filming!) and lit up the arena themselves, happily singing along. I had to catch that on camera, it was such a beautiful moment. John has himself a much bigger fan after that.
Who Stole the Show?
But one man really stole the show for me (or as much as you can steal the spotlight at a John Mayer show from John Mayer). That man was Isaiah Sharkey, and if you are unfortunate enough to have not heard of him, please do yourself a favour and look him up once you have read this. I was first introduced to him when he was playing guitar for D’Angelo, but he is a multi instrumentalist and singer in his own right, perhaps one of the most talented I have ever seen.
He’s on Brian McKnight’s LA live album too, and probably features on some of your favourite records. Not only was he playing beautifully all night in John’s band, but he was set loose on ‘If I Ever Get Around To Living’. Take a look online and see if you can find it, absolutely brilliant. There are many things you can say about the talent that is John Mayer, but one that stood out to me after seeing that concert is that he can really put an incredible band together. What a show!
Moving On And Getting Over
Blues Run the Game/Queen of California
Emoji Of A Wave
In Your Atmosphere
Bright Lights Big City
Who Did You Think I Was
In The Blood
The Beautiful Ones/Slow Dancing In A Burning Room
If I Ever Get Around To Living
You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me