The iconic triple-threat singer, songwriter, and guitarist is on the road to support his new album
John Mayer performed at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena with an incredibly well-received night of mind-melting music.
The king of soft rock (and really any music he wants to touch) opened with “Last Train Home” off of his new record, 2021’s Sob Rock. Surprise guest Maren Morris joined him midway through the song and again later in the set for “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.”
Throughout the night, Mayer kept the vibe mellow, preferring to use his guitar to express his emotions. His go-to for most of the night was a cobalt blue/gray electric guitar that perfectly matched his similarly colored blazer and pants over a white T-shirt. The lighting and screen images adorning a catty-cornered six-story screen evoked the neon-fused vibe of the Sob Rock tracks.
Mayer dug into his album cuts during an acoustic session, indulging a fan’s request for “Shouldn’t Matter But It Does.” He also added his first Grammy-winning song back into the set. He called 2003’s “Your Body is a Wonderland,” “[A] little capsule of what [I] meant at the time.” The crowd loved it.
And to that end, the crowd seemed to love it when Mayer simply breathed. The piercing screams of excited women and the head-banging cheers of the dudes in the arena appeared to be an outsized reaction to the mellow vibe and easy music Mayer emits from the stage. They exploded at the first chord of every song. And yet, there were no pyrotechnic explosions. No flying catwalk. Just damn good playing that does something to people.
It is hard to relay just how good John Mayer is at playing guitar. If he never sang a word, the crowd would still go wild. There’s an effortlessness that belies amazing technique. Not only can Mayer play guitar, he is a master at the pedalboard as well. Think about that: shred the 6-string, tap the pedal on cue, and keep singing? It is not easy. But Mayer looks like he could do it in his sleep.
And therein lies Mayer’s staying power. He’s not a rocker. He’s not a country star. He’s the purest form of musical chameleon: one that shifts shape to fit whatever moves him. The soul of “Gravity” could be mistaken for Marvin Gaye. But a white dude from Connecticut sings with that feeling. Then the country infused “Waitin’ on the Day” from Paradise Valley demonstrates Mayer’s storytelling abilities.
And the songs off this latest album take his fans back to a time when music wasn’t overproduced for arena rocking, merely listening and pure enjoyment.
It seems fitting that someone who refuses to be defined by genre would pack in a crowd in Nashville. The heart and soul of this town is a relatability to the music. Mayer has that in spades