LIVE REVIEW: John Mayer @ TD Garden 04.09.17

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Guitar virtuoso John Mayer is one of the more polarizing musicians to come into prominence in the last twenty years. Opinions on the New England born artist are about as split as the last election. But love him or hate him, anyone who has paid attention to pop culture in the last decade or so knows who he is.

Last night, there was a lot of love for Mayer in Boston, MA where he played to a sold out crowd at TD Garden. Mayer is out on his first headline tour since 2014 and touring in support of his soon to be released new album “The Search for Everything.”  In his true showman fashion, on Sunday night, Mayer treated Boston to a little bit of everything. The concert was composed of five ‘chapters’ representing each era of his career.

The first stanza of the night was a five song full band set containing mostly material from the more recent Mayer releases including “Queen of California” from 2013’s “Born and Raised” and the first single from his forthcoming album, “Love on the Weekend.”

The second portion of the evening’s set, featured Mayer alone on an acoustic guitar playing “Neon” – a song penned when Mayer was attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music in 1999 – as well as a rousing cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin” which brought about a sea of raised phones capturing the moment on video.

After a brief set change, Mayer emerged with bandmates Pino Palladino and Steve Jordan to perform as The John Mayer Trio, the one off electric blues project from 2005 who’s live album “Try!” was nominated for a Grammy award. During that set, Mayer paid tribute to the recently departed Chuck Berry by playing a cover of “Johnny B. Goode” on a red Gibson ES-335.

The rest of Mayer’s touring band returned for the next chapter of the show, a seven song set, briefly – interrupted by an encore break – composed mostly of Mayer’s most classic hits such as “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room,” “Gravity,” and “Why Georgia.”

The band left the stage after that, and Mayer returned alone for the ‘Epilogue’ portion of the story, a one song, solo performance of “You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me” played by Mayer on a piano with a bright white backdrop. Mayer exited the stage through a door in his video board after bowing and thanking a loud cheering crowd that included New England royalty Tom Brady and his wife Giselle, and rolled credits on the video board signaling the true end of the performance.

The structure of the show was a unique and bold choice for Mayer, but it worked. It’s not something every artist could pull off, for example a high energy rock band stopping to change sets now and then would throw off the momentum. But for Mayer it seemed to fit perfectly, for many, solo performer sets can often seem to drag on after a while – especially in today’s day and age of the ultra short attention span in the iPhone generation – so keeping things fresh and different every few songs went a long way to keeping all eyes on Mayer throughout the night.

At one point during the show Mayer thanked his audience, telling them he appreciated them being “Mayer defenders” for all this time, in reference to the widespread differing opinions on Mayer that sometimes force his fans to defend their music tastes from harsh critics. He has come a long way from his pop idol, tabloid days on the covers of magazines and websites like TMZ, and last night even stated that “this is more fun than it’s ever been” and discussing how for many artists, you don’t learn the biggest lessons until the rides already over. But Mayer has grown up, and come down to earth – a bit at least – and now seems to be truly enjoying and appreciating every step of the wild ride he’s on.

After his solo tour is done, Mayer will once again spend the summer on tour with the remaining member’s of the Grateful Dead in the Dead & Company project playing in a role that only a few people in the world could. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of opinions on John Mayer, the one thing that cannot be denied is that the man has an exceptional musical talent, and at just 39 years old is not slowing down anytime soon.


Photos: John Mayer @ TD Garden – 04.09.17

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