JOHN MAYER, JOY OLADOKUN
ROCKET MORTGAGE FIELDHOUSE
CLEVELAND, OHIO | MARCH 25, 2023
By Neil Shumate, OOTB Publications
The cliché 'you could hear a pin drop' describes the stillness in the air last night as John Mayer performed songs from his two-decade spanning career; a trailblazing career that has paved the way for many of today’s singer-songwriters.
“You wouldn’t like the younger me, the 23-year-old obnoxious version of me,” laughed Mayer as he introduced 2002 hit, “Your Body Is A Wonderland,” an hour into the set.
In contrast, the previously played song—a newer unreleased track titled “Driftin’,”—was written in 2023, as an older version of himself, now at 45. “[The songs] sound like two totally different people, because they are,” Mayer said with a smile.
Mayer’s humor, wit and charm throughout the 'evening with' setting made for a warm night of solo acoustic favorites, with occasional storyteller intros and back announces.
Mayer connected with fans by pointing out various signs he saw from the stage. He joked with the audience that one sign requesting the song “Assassin” was already played earlier, so now the sign is just in the way of those in the back, the crowd laughed. Mayer pointed out that another sign requested “Happy Birthday” (which he joked he loves hearing groups sing the song in restaurants and hearing them try to match the 'Birthday' octave) and another sign was worded: “My Shrink Loves You.”
The tour included brief videos showcasing the seven-time-Grammy winner’s early career days with interview clips. One clip included the song “Waiting For The World To Change.”
The show was much more than just a gracious, laid-back, ordinary guy wearing a t-shirt and jeans strumming a guitar and singing all night. Mayer was equipped with many instruments on stage to accompany his projecting, wide-ranging, distinct vocals.
He sat behind a piano and performed a few songs, including the Louis Armstrong sounding “You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me,” during which Mayer layered the chorus with subtle whistling (Mayer said the song was originally called “Kicking A Can”). Mayer sported his signature PRS electric guitar for a remarkable blues solo while a piano line he played looped in the background. He performed an astounding version of Tom Perry’s “Free Fallin’” on a guitarlele. He used a harmonica during a cover of Beyoncé’s “XO.” He sported a 12-string silver dobro to perform the “nautical” deep cut “Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967” (which he mentioned he finished writing after heavy drinking one night in New York). He also performed songs on a double neck guitar, including Grateful Dead cover “Friend Of The Devil”—the song fittingly aligns with the portion of his career in which he tours with Dead & Company. For others, he used straightforward acoustics with guitar slaps.
Mayer’s musical talent is undeniable, astounding. His relaxed confidence shined before nearly 19,000 for two hours. He made it look easy and he made it entertaining, even without a backing band and without substantial lighting effects. And there’s more to come. Following his most recent release, Sob Rock, Mayer mentioned he’s currently been working on writing a new record.
JOHN MAYER (click photos to enlarge)