Let’s be honest, having no support act when playing arena shows is one hell of a statement. An artist better come with their absolute A game if they want to captivate 12,000 people for over two hours and ensure that they walk away feeling like they got their money’s worth. Walking into Rod Laver Arena last night, I had the feeling that John Mayer was going to deliver in spades, and honestly, he did in the finest of forms.
Calm and collected, Mayer and his band took the stage, jumping straight into ‘Queen of California’ followed directly by newest single ‘I Guess I Just Feel Like’. A suped up take on Battle Studies opener ‘Heartbreak Warfare’ raised the energy in the room and got the crowds hips moving. A slew of cuts from Born And Raised kept the set moving along, but finishing the first set of the evening with a trio of side one/track ones from his first three records was a lovely touch for the fans who’ve been around since the beginning. I was particularly elated to see ‘Clarity’ make the setlist, as I feel like Heavier Things features some of Mayer’s best work.
Mayer is known for having a plethora of stellar musicians with him when he hits the road, but the line up joining him on this trek were something else. Try as you might, but you will never be as suave as bass master Pino Palladino laying down the tightest low end while rocking sunglasses in a dark arena. The guitar duo of David Ryan Harris and Isaiah Sharkey perfectly compliment Mayer’s playing, whilst bringing their own unique character. Sharkey in particular dropped one of the most spectacular guitar solo’s during the bridge of ‘Waiting On The World To Change’ that had the entire band and audience losing it.
After a brief intermission, Mayer returned to the stage by himself and treated the crowd to a short solo acoustic set. Where it might seem daunting to perform solo in front of a sold out arena for some artists, it was very clear that Mayer is seasoned to the point that no matter the context, he can hold the crowd in the palm of his hand. A beautiful rendition of Bruce Springsteen classic ‘I’m On Fire’ was a lovely touch, and the crowd singing along to every word was a wonderfully magical moment. Closing out the acoustic set with ‘Daughters’ and ‘Neon’ was a treat, especially given the now legendary preamble that always comes before ‘Neon’, showcasing Mayer’s playful and somewhat mischievous character on the guitar.
The final set for the evening kicked off with more of Mayer’s playful nature in the form of recent banger ‘New Light’, with Mayer himself saying that the song serves as the perfect excuse to dance like an idiot, which he did in style. The remainder of the set was pure class, with the inclusions of ‘Edge Of Desire’, ‘In The Blood, ‘Slow Dancing In A Burning Room’ and ‘Belief’ reaffirming that Mayer’s catalogue is chock to the brim with incredibly moving and powerful songs for the ages. The encore of ‘Born And Raised’ and ‘Gravity’ was simply beautiful and couldn’t have been a better way to send off the night.
Any concerns about John Mayer not being able to hold a sold out arena crowd for over two and a half hours were completely unjustified, as every moment of his performance was captivating and thrilling. Mayer is living proof that you don’t need pyro, crazy lighting rigs and enormous production when it comes to taking on arenas. All you need is great songs, played with incredible conviction by great musicians. Nuff said.