[LIVE REVIEW] John Mayer @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne – 27/03/2019

The lines of people zigzagged across the front of the newly appointed Rod Laver Arena, the turn out was of massive proportions and it was no doubt that the show was going to be full to the brim. With a musical career spanning 20 years, John Mayer has certainly amassed an army of fans, with every second one wearing a newly purchased t-shirt from the large variety available at the merch stalls.

The stage was set with a tie-dyed backdrop and side screens for the fans in the upper levels, with risers for the percussionist, drummer, keyboards and backing vocalists. I liked the use of the height giving everyone a terrific view of the whole band. As expected, the arena was packed solid, and as the lights dropped the fans let out yelps and screams of excitement, the electricity running through the venue was immediate as the main man took to the stage. Opening the nights’ proceedings with Queen of California, I Guess I Just Feel Like and Heartbreak Warfare the show was off and running and John settled into his rhythm. Looking extremely relaxed in cargos and a short sleeve sweatshirt, John was dressed for comfort feeling quite at home on the stage, never mind the thousands of eyes on him.

John’s musicianship was extraordinary, his nimble fingers working the strings with ease, while I have always associated guitars with John Mayer, I had no idea the extent of his playing. I was left with my jaw on the floor at how brilliant he was, with more guitar changes over the evening than I’ve had hot dinners his techs certainly earnt their coin as they raced to keep the glorious tunes flowing. With the show split over two sets the first half was made up of ten songs, including Waiting On The Day, Something Like Olivia and Love On The Weekend. John’s colourful trainers seemed to be infused with air as he bounced on the spot as he played, never missing a beat totally in tune with his music. He also gave us some insight into a time when he ‘lost himself’ for a year or two, moving incognito with the addition of weight, layers, long hair and stubble. Which lead to Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey a song he wrote during this time in his life. The audience lapped it up enjoying the personal touch to the song and a bit of back history about it. No Such Thing had us singing along in unison, a popular tune that the whole arena knew. Clarity and the mega-hit Waiting On The World To Change saw out the first set to huge applause giving John and his exceptional band time to catch their breath.

With a brief interval of 25 minutes John returned to the stage solo as he played a few acoustic songs, once again tantalising us with his dazzling brilliance on the guitar playing In Your Atmosphere, a lovely cover of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire, the ever-popular Daughters and Neon which to my delight including a snippet of Toms Diner by Suzanne Vega.

The full band returned to the stage to deliver New Light which had us all bopping with some tasty licks and colourful lighting, it was the most upbeat tune of the night and the crowd loved it. Love Is A Verb, Rosie and Edge Of Desire was a winning trifecta as they powered through the songs. John was extremely engaging with the audience, happy for a bit of banter and plenty of intelligent humour which gave us all a giggle. With a frontman as captivating as Mr Mayer it was hard to give the band my full attention, but they were tight all night, giving us some blistering solos and powerful singing to accompany the huge setlist. Kudos to you all you were fantastic. In The Blood was a fabulous addition to the growing amount of hits as was Slow Dancing In A Burning Room. John’s voice like liquid silk, the beautiful lyrics rolling off his tongue with ease. His ‘guitar face’ was sensational, rapidly changing depending on how deep his playing went, his guitar became an extension of his body the two merging to become one. It was a joy to watch him play and the fans were loving every second, handing out huge applause after every solo.  Openly discussing a world that is haunted by worry and anxiety, he played The Age Of Worry and Belief which saw out the second set.

After a quick departure from the stage, John and band returned to play out the night with Born And Raised and Gravity. Much to the dismay of the Brisbane fans Gravity didn’t make the setlist for their show so it was live-streamed on Instagram to appease them. A mistake I’m sure will not be made again, the fans speak in volumes hence the quick-fire remedy via social media. Gravity was the perfect finisher to showcase John’s talents, leaving space perfectly, never busy or rushed with his playing, a true professional from going to woe. He was gracious to his fans, with thanks aplenty and his parting words “I’m still John Mayer because you let me be!” a beautiful statement letting the fans know how much they are appreciated. John Mayer a true gentleman right to his last words.

Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale

Gallery by Lynda Buchanan