It is well known that John Mayer took a bit of a step back in the last few years. First he deleted his twitter. Dropped out of the public eye. Retreated to his house in Montana. Then in 2012 he had to stop touring in support of Born and Raised because of vocal surgery. It has really been over 3 years since he has toured extensively.
Well, it's 2013. He has an excellent new album, Paradise Valley , that just came out. He has fully recovered from vocal surgery, and he is back to packing PNC Bank Arts Center. Even thought he just released a new album, his tour is called the Born and Raised Tour - making up for the tour he had to cancel last year.
On Wed August 21, he played a sold out show at PNC bringing Phillip Phillips for support. Phillips won American Idol and went on to have a #1 album with The World on The Dark Side of the Moon when it was released. I had very limited knowledge about him beyond his single Home which I confused for Mumford and Sons for the longest time.
Live, Phillips sounds like a mix of Dave Matthews Band and Mumford- which isn't necessarily a bad thing. He kept the energy high, his voice was on point, and he had more than a few fans in the crowd. And his band kept pace with him the whole time.
John Mayer took the stage at 8:50 surrounded by his incredible band and backed by a huge screen. Throughout the night, his background screen showed (what I believe was) Red Rocks with stars in the night sky. At other times the stars became huge shooting stars. At other times, it looked like the galaxy and Northern Lights. In short, it was absolutely stunning.
The music matched the background all night long.
Mayer and his band sounded good. Damn good . The set list was 19 songs spread over a show that was 2 plus hours. Queen of California was first followed by the new one, Wildfire. Judging by the chorus of voices singing every word, it was clear many in PNC had already picked up his new album.
I am not going to do a song by song review, the set list can be found all over the internet. I will say he didn't play anything from his first album, choosing to ignore the poppier part of the catalogue. His guitar playing was, of course, jaw dropping. I liked though, that he gave his other guitar players a chance to shine as well. He stepped into the background often, letting the others shine. His voice sounds strong, and he seemed to really just be happy playing songs again. And for the encore they played a cover of Call Me The Breeze and were joined by Robby Krieger of The Doors.
What a night.
In the past, Mayer has gone on long speeches in between songs. But on this night, he kept talking to a minimum. He did thank everyone for coming, for supporting him after his 3 year absence. He also mentioned that the only on line thing he keeps up with these days is Instagram. He said he goes on there, sees the photos of people going to his shows, and really enjoying life. It seemed to genuinely make him happy.
I go to a lot of concerts as part of what I do, but I can honestly say that this John Mayer show is probably one of the best I have ever been to. It was one of those moments when I had to take a step back and just appreciate it all. On that night, with a cool summer breeze flowing, some incredible music and 15000 people- there is no where else I would rather be.
Welcome back John. Welcome back.