Every decade there a handful of artists, true musicians and pioneers, that are able to transcend beyond their radio success and become household names for the creative value of their endeavors. John Mayer is a modern day version of these musical renaissance men & women as from an earliest days of his career he pushed the boundaries of artistry forward by combining the new sounds of the alternative rock genre with the accessibility of pop but keeping an edge of blues rock that can be traced back in history to the greats of B.B. King and Chuck Berry. His greatest songs are not the songs you know from the radio, his shining moments come from the space in between the songs where his masterful skill with a guitar (electric or acoustic) is able to breathe freely. His skill is with a guitar is unparalleled to the point that most will know that a few summers ago it let to him touring with The Grateful Dead. The rest is history they say and it brings the story to where we are today with John Mayer being one of the largest names in music in 2017.
‘The Search for Everything’ EPs have had overwhelming success so far and have been reviewed widely as artistically perfect thus far – on first listen the songs do jump out a lot more than a lot of Mayer’s earlier work did and resonate powerfully with the listener. An impressive feat as many of his early songs were critical successes as well with very potent and meaningful stories contained within their lyrics. The albums echo with the experience and confidence that touring with The Grateful Dead brought him that has been fused with his already seasoned writing talents. To support these new songs Mayer has began a multi-month a trek across the country of nearly sold out arenas with multiple stops being made in many of the cities. ‘The Search of Everything’ tour made it’s first stop in Philadelphia this past weekend at the Wells Fargo Center – it returns later this summer for those who missed out on this first go.
John Mayer and the band took the stage just before 9:00PM on Friday evening as they began an evening of musical excellence that would keep the crowd captivated from start to finish. The experience was broken into sections as was advertised prior to the show – this gave John Mayer (and his band occasionally) a chance to really open up his vast catalog of music in ways that aren’t normally possible during a traditional concert experience. Each theme was chronicled into a chapter – the set included a ‘Full Band,” “Acoustic,” and “Acoustic Trio” performances, some repeated and others did not.
The concert began with Chapter I, full band introductions and performances that set the tone for the rest of the night despite the constant changing of music themes that took place. John Mayer walked on stage with a smile on his face as he picked up his guitar to begin the opening riffs of “Helpless” as the video screen cascaded a vibrant blue ocean of color across him and packed arena crowd. As he approached the microphone Mayer became the sole brightest object on stage and he would remain that way for the duration of the show across all meanings of the phrase. He has surrounded himself with a talent band who posses incredible volumes of skills but he made it clear from the first song that he was steering the ship as he broke into a stunning, blues inspired riff solo that made his guitar wail in ways many guitarist struggle to achieve in their entire lives. Mayer made his performance look effortless and when he decided he had enough he returned to the microphone to steer the show back on course into the next song.
In an industry that has been forced to conform to so many standards for live performances it was incredibly refreshing to see Mayer take back artistic control and truly command the shots for his performance. The breaking up of the set really allowed for some incredible moments during the show, the first of which came early as the full band broke into the newer track “Love on The Weekend.” The stage emitted color and energy as the band meshed together to bring a powerful big band style rendition of the song to life; shortly after the vibe of the show was completely different as Mayer stood alone on stage to perform a soulful and heartfelt version of “Daughters.”
The beauty of the show was that Mayer could have completely omitted some of his largest / most successful songs and it wouldn’t have impacted the crowd’s enjoyment of the show. Every fan in attendance was captivated and participating on every song during the night, even the few covers that Mayer managed to sneak into the set though there was no appearance of Grateful Dead track so fans will have to keep holding out to see him perform those songs again. Late in the set Mayer did perform his breakthrough singles and the crowd loved it – though he did what he did best all night and made them something new for the Philadelphia crowd. Every song was performed in a way that it was enough to know it fully but sometimes Mayer was able to push the songs to new heights as he did with “Gravity” during the full band reprise. From what it seems the setlist has been different every night of the tour so who knows what the next show will bring for Mayer and who knows what he is going to bring us when he returns to Philadelphia later this summer. The full run down of the Philadelphia show on the ‘Search For Everything Tour’ is below
Love on the Weekend
I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)
Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey
Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty cover)
John Mayer Trio:
Cross Road Blues (Robert Johnson cover)
Wait Until Tomorrow (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
Moving On and Getting Over
Still Feel Like Your Man
Waiting on the World to Change
War (Bob Marley & The Wailers cover)
Waiting on the Day
Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me
Exclusive Photo Gallery of the Wells Fargo Center Performance on Friday, April 7, 2017.