John Mayer gives Vancouver a grateful, fun, guitar-riddled performance

John Mayer with LANY @ Rogers Arena 4/19/17

Photo by Ryan Johnson
Photo by Ryan Johnson

With so many performers donning a guitar show after show it can be a real treat of an experience to see a guitarist who plays at a truly exceptional level. John Mayer is that kind of performer, which should come as no shock to the fans who are familiar with his work with Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Buddy Guy, A.K.A the guitar gods of 20th and early 21st centuries respectfully. What was wonderful about the Rogers Arena show on Wednesday night (April 19th), was that Mayer was so obviously having a good time. A great time actually: “Welcome to the Search For Everything Tour”, said Mayer with a side grin. “My name is John and I’ll be your tour guide.”

The show was split into five portions, as introduced by a black screen and the chapter written against it in white font.

Ch.1—Full Band

Mayer began the evening with “Moving On and Getting Over”, wearing a deep grey shirt, dark blazer, and pants. The notorious lady-killer is charming, to say the least, and very obviously grateful to his fans. This was evident across the span of the entire show, and possibly why he stayed mostly close to his early work. “Who Says” was a surprising setlist choice, but maybe not so surprising as Vancouver was set to celebrate 4/20 the very next day.

“Vancouver has been a star on our tour for some time,” said Mayer in between songs. Most people know that Mayer gives not a single damn about his guitar solo face, and the audience got the full uninhibited performance though each chapter; video of Mayer was layered on top of lush screen images throughout the entirety of the show. He closed out the first full band set with “Belief”, a golden song that showcases some of his greatest songwriting and hails from what has arguably been his greatest album, Contiuum.

Ch. 2—Acoustic

Taking the stage alone—to the pleasure of the vocally adoring audience—Mayer stood against a Japan-inspired, cherry-blossom adorned backdrop with a wooden bridge on the stage. It really was quite stunning but didn’t take away from Mayer’s musical capabilities. Giving diehards his popular cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’”, there didn’t seem to be anyone at Rogers not singing along. Promising to sing early hit “Your Body Is a Wonderland” with “sincerity and authority”, Mayer explained how he didn’t like what the song had become commercially, but how he wanted us to see that it was a “21-year-old just trying his best” and playing around with chords until they sounded great. This gave the audience a flashback to the innocent, early days of his long and successful career.

Ch. 3—Trio

While the 2005 live album Try! by the John Mayer trio was fantastic and critically acclaimed, this portion of the evening was the most underwhelming. The band consists of drummer Steve Jordan, bassist Pino Palladino and Mayer, and a three-way split screen gave each their due recognition. Original trio song “Who Did You Think I Was”, Mayer’s gorgeous Continuum track “Vultures”, and Robert Johnson cover and Clapton favorite “Crossroads” were sound choices for this chapter of the evening. However, it seemed like the trio were trying to project the idea of being a sort of blues/rock powerhouse without bringing enough energy to actually do so. The performance would have been just right had they not over-sold the trio in an introductory video beforehand. Mayer should certainly jump more into this genre as that’s where his exceptional guitar skills can really shine, but he may need a new band…

Ch. 4—Full Band

Mayer stayed away from new singles like “Still Feel Like Your Man” and “Love On the Weekend”, which are currently getting a lot of radio play. But frankly, even though he’s known for his love song ballads, his real talent lies in his guitar work—this made the avoidance of some of the new perfectly fine and welcomed. The audience got really onboard with “Changing”, waving their cell phone flashlights in the air and singing loudly along. “Why Georgia” gave us vintage Mayer and “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”…well that was just lovely. Probably in his top three greatest love songs of his impressive career, the latter combined fine guitar-work, with raw emotional lyricism. This was a much-needed track, and Mayer new it.

After an endearing, “My name is John and it was a pleasure playing for you,” concertgoers eagerly awaited the 39-year-old’s return to the stage. The encore gave the audience the classic “No Such Thing” and beautifully written “Gravity”.

Ch. 5—Epilogue

For the final track of the night, Mayer took to an all-white stage, sat down at a white piano and sang new song “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me”. It was a beautiful ending, and he finished by taking a bow and walking through an on-stage door. Mayer was loveable throughout the evening and gave concertgoers a lot of background to his chord construction and song writing. This was a great way of illuminating the tabloid personality from a truly excellent talent.