So for the people that follow me on social media, you will know how much I love John Mayer. On Friday 12th May I was in London ready to go and finally see him for the first time, after years and years of waiting. The word ‘excitement’ didn’t even cover it! An idol, an inspiration, a song for every emotion and phase in your life; he really is a massive inspiration to me and has had a huge impact on my life.
[Cheesy photo in the tube station at the O2; ended up on the @allontheboard instagram page!]
The gig itself was, of course, incredible. The stage setting was more extravagant than the one seen on his ‘Where the Light is’ Live DVD tour, but it was more simplistic than many artists today. An interactive board behind and an interactive floor (which most of the time was rippled water); this was showing a more ‘out-there’ Mayer that people have not seen before.
Playing to a sold out show, the genius himself mixed old and new songs with a generous balance. Chapter 1 saw the names of all the band members and who the show was ‘starring’, almost like it was the start of a brand new movie at the premiere. Then the crowd erupted as he broke out into the classic ‘Waiting on the World to Change.’ Slick transitions, smooth solo guitar playing and silky vocals, it was John making his mark on the stage from the word go. From classics like this, to newer songs like ‘Moving on and Getting Over’, he really set the bar high for what was to follow in the rest of the show.
Chapter 2 slowed down the night going into an acoustic set, with John standing alone on stage. The Japanese inspired back drop with pink blossom trees and pagodas, and a lone red bridge crossing ‘water’, created a nice touch and simply beautiful. This part of the set in particular was my favourite, as whilst he played ‘Neon’ and ‘Stop this Train’, the lesser popular songs were echoed around the arena. Mayer played my favourite song out of his whole discography, ‘Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, 1967’, with such passion and emotion and told the story like it was a novel which reduced me to tears. The acoustic setting was truly heart-warming and all the emotion was clear to see in John himself.
Chapter 3 saw the pace picked back up, with the John Mayer Trio making an appearance after a short video explaining why they were back. Although a short section, the blues oozed from the fantastic trio of Mayer, Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino. From covering Robert Johnson’s ‘Crossroads’, to playing the electric ‘Vultures’, the trio were sharp and on point, and demonstrated why their reformation was the best decision. The crowd absolutely loved it and Mayer seemed to too, as his endless talent was clearly shown with his prolonged guitar soloing and jamming with a massive smile on his face.
Chapter 4 saw the revival of the full band and backing singers, and the stage was full once again. Whilst doing a cover of the late Prince song ‘The Beautiful Ones’, this again was another fantastic section in the show. Playing a mixture of old, new and lesser known songs, Mayer really brought in all his discography into this section. The crowd went crazy for the well-known heart wrenching ‘Slow Dancing in a Burning Room’, whilst his latest single ‘Still Feel Like Your Man’ was also a favourite, and even saw the music video’s pandas appear on screen. This section ended with ‘Dear Marie’, which the crowd seemed to adore. Mayer described that song as ‘the best thing to come out of a terrible album that the label hated’; a bold statement because personally some of my favourite songs are off that album! It was slow, it was smooth and it was pitch perfect as always.
After being beckoned to return to the stage for more, Mayer reappeared for his encore and epilogue. The crowd favourite ‘Gravity’ was played to perfection, with the crisp guitar solos echoing around the room and people stood in sheer awe at his playing. The tour debut song ‘I Will Be Found (Lost at Sea), although lesser known, received a great reception from the crowd with John’s melodic piano playing. The rippling water effect on the floor gave the impression that he was out at sea, playing to find his way back. This led into the final song of the night (unfortunately!), the one that he finished with every night on the tour. ‘You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me’ was a superb finish to the John Mayer experience; it was calm, relaxing and honestly gave you chills. His vocals were perfect and the piano playing was captivating and it was so simple, with John sitting alone at a white piano with a white backdrop and floor setting. It was a great final chapter to the show, and as the lights went off you knew the book was now closed for the night.
[Photo Credit: Shannon Westwood]
It was hands down the best gig of my life so far, and that’s not me being biased. The only downside (apart from the fact that the concert finished!) was that ‘Free Fallin’ was never played. Although it’s a cover, it’s a crowd favourite and I overheard many a conversation when leaving the arena that they were devastated that he did not play it. However the set list was the best mix of old and new songs, with a few other new covers thrown in and the different genres that John plays in were showcased. Hands down the best night of my life so far and I still haven’t quite gotten over it!
I know it’s a long gig review, but because it was so important to me I felt I just had to write one! Comments are welcomed (as I don’t normally do gig reviews, so any advice is appreciated) and I will get writing my next post real soon.