I've been to probably about a hundred concerts in my life, and dozens of those were at Madison Square Garden, but never have I seen a person command that room in the fashion that John Mayer did last night.
Something was in the air from the moment Mayer shared this post on social media right after doors opened, promising a "very special presentation" due to the unfortunate news that his drummer Steve Ferrone (who I was so excited to see) tested positive for COVID that afternoon....
Obviously, that sucked to hear, because there aren't many rhythm sections like Steve Ferrone and Pino Palladino out there, but the speculation about what could happen in the wake of that news was now palpable in the arena. You could see people showing each other their phones during Alexander 23's set, clearly holding up the tweet/Instagram post, and I even overheard the dudes behind me wondering if Steve Jordan could step in on the drums. My initial thought was, "I hope we either get Questlove to fill in or he does an acoustic set".
Little did I know at that point that I'd be able to have my cake and eat it, too.
Rone had the same thought as me, sitting just one section over, and responded, "QUESTLOVE?!" when I shared the post with him. Fingers crossed.
John Mayer stepped onto the dark stage at 9pm sharp and set the tone instantly with "Neon", my absolute favorite song of his, which also kicks off the live album 'Where The Light Is: Live In Los Angeles' - my most-listened to JM record by a longshot.
It's an incredibly difficult song to play/sing at the same time, but he makes it look so easy....
John greeted the crowd, said tonight was going to stray from the path this tour has been on a bit, and went into what I described as a full-on NPR Tiny Desk concert - or MTV Unplugged special, for the olds - with his entire band (sans Steve Ferrone/Carlos Ricketts) to the sold out Madison Square Garden in front of him. He played plenty of songs from the new album, 'Sob Rock', he played some deep cuts that the die hards went WILD for, and absolutely shredded on an acoustic guitar as good as anyone I've ever seen.
About an hour and a half into John's lights-out performance, he introduces (you guessed it!) Questlove to the stage, and they go right into 'Vultures' off 'Continuum'….
….into 'Clarity' off 'Heavier Things', which blew the roof off the place.
Watching Questlove look to Pino and John and the other members of the band for cues on when to end songs/transition from one thing to the next and figure it out as he went along was AMAZING. He looked like he was having the time of his life, too….
According to Quest himself, he was planning on going to the show himself, and stepped in on an hour's notice….
They closed with 'Slow Dancing in a Burning Room', which featured guitar player/vocalist David Ryan Harris singing a cover of 'The Beautiful Ones' by Prince as an intro….
….and came back out almost immediately for an encore, which of course, was a seven-minute version of 'Gravity' - ending in one of the most epic guitar solos I've ever heard live….
Simply incredible. Top-to-bottom, one of the best concerts I have ever been to, and a night I'll never forget.
I'm not even a HUGE John Mayer guy like a lot of people in the office are, either….don't get me wrong, I LOVE me some John Mayer, but I don't know all the deep cuts and see him every time he's in town with Dead & Co. or anything like that. Not like Trent/Rone/Vibbs/Noah though.
Last night was actually my first time seeing Mayer since the Live Earth Festival at Giants Stadium in 2007, where he only performed a few songs!
It won't be my last, though, and after seeing how he turned a negative into a positive like that, putting on the show of his lifetime and absolutely blowing everyone in that room away, I don't think I'll pass up another opportunity to see him live.
Look to social media, or even the John Mayer subreddit, and you'll see the same sentiment everywhere: last night was a historic night for Mayer that will be talked about for years to come….
I've shared the full setlist below….
- Last Train Home
- Shot in the Dark
- In the Blood
- If I Ever Get Around to Living
- New Light
- Wild Blue
- Your Body Is a Wonderland
- In Your Atmosphere
- Something's Missing (snippet)
- Free Fallin'
- Carry Me Away
- Who Says
- Stop This Train
- Til the Right One Comes (w/ 'You Can Call Me Al' snippet)
QUESTLOVE JOINS THE SHOW
- Something Like Olivia
- The Beautiful Ones (Prince cover sung by David Ryan Harris)
- Slow Dancing in a Burning Room