LIVE: John Mayer @ MVP Arena, 02/17/2022
John Mayer rolled into Albany’s MVP Arena on Thursday night, kicking off his “Sob Rock 2022 Tour.” This is the third time that Mayer has chosen this venue to open a tour. He opened his “The Search For Everything Tour” here in 2017 and his summer tour in 2019.
Mayer has always surrounded himself with the world’s best musicians and this show was no different. Their collective resume is beyond impressive. Bassist Pino Palladino has played with everyone from Elton John and Eric Clapton to The Who and Nine Inch Nails. Percussionist Lenny Castro has played with The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder. Drummer Steve Ferrone was a member of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Keyboard player Jamie Muhoberac has worked with Fleetwood Mac and Jane’s Addiction. Greg Phillinganes has played keys with Michael Jackson and George Harrison. Guitarist Isaiah Sharkey is a guitar prodigy himself, releasing his first album at 14. The secret weapon of Mayer’s live arsenal has always been guitarist/vocalist David Ryan Harris. Harris has worked with Dave Matthews and Santana. Along with background singers, Tiffany Palmer and Carlos Ricketts, Harris covers all of the high notes and provides soaring harmonies.
This all-star band hit the ground running on Thursday night. From the opening notes of “Last Train Home” from 2021’s Sob Rock, Mayer and company were all business. The track and album are a throwback to a 1980’s sound, very reminiscent of “Journeyman” era Eric Clapton. Mayer, for his part, seems to have gone all-in on the 80’s retro vibe of the record. Sporting a tan linen suit and Nike sneakers, he looked like he just stepped out of 1988. During “Shot In The Dark” a neon image of Bob Saget appeared briefly on the screen behind the band. It was a nice tribute to Saget who passed away unexpectedly last month.
Mayer was in peak form. An incendiary extended guitar solo closing out “I Guess I Just Feel Like” had the audience screaming for more. This was quickly followed up by “Helpless” off of 2017’s The Search For Everything, which featured another barn-burning solo. It also featured Phillinganes on keytar and a guitar/keytar battle with Mayer at center stage.
Harris was featured later in the set, singing a verse and chorus of Prince’s classic Purple Rain track “The Beautiful Ones” as an intro to the fan favorite “Slow Dancing In a Burning Room.” One of Mayer’s slinkiest guitar lines highlights “SDIABR.” I am always amused to see happy couples slow dancing to this song, considering it is a song about a relationship falling apart, but I digress…
Early radio hit “Your Body Is A Wonderland” was dusted off and given its first full band treatment. The extra instrumentation really filled the song out.
The main set was closed out with fan favorites “Waiting on the World To Change” and “Gravity.” The bluesy “Gravity” has always been a highlight of any John Mayer concert. It was nice to have it back in the setlist. He did not play it on the last Albany show in 2019. During the first chorus, Mayer stepped away from the mic and let the audience take over. It was one of those moments that I love about going to live concerts. Thousands of strangers connect over their collective love of the music.
A quick two-song encore followed. 2012’s “Born and Raised” found Mayer channeling his inner Neil Young. He closed the set with the upbeat “New Light.” Twenty-one songs in two hours is not too bad for a tour opener.
Opening act Alexander 23 played his first arena show. You couldn’t tell from his performance. He commanded the stage. Highlights of his set included his own 2021 single “Cry Over Boys” and a terrific cover of the Tears for Fears classic “Everybody Wants to Rule The World.” Once again I remind you all to get to concerts early. Check out the opening act. Just about every superstar was an opening act at some point.
A live recording of the show is available on the Live Music Archive. Listen and download it here.
- Last Train Home
- Shot In The Dark
- I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)
- Who Says
- Love On The Weekend
- Moving On And Getting Over
- Shouldn’t Matter But It Does
- I Guess I Just Feel Like
- Stop This Train
- In The Blood
- Carry Me Away
- The Beautiful Ones (Prince Cover intro)
- Slow Dancing In A Burning Room
- Your Body Is A Wonderland
- Wild Blue
- All I Want Is To Be With You
- Waiting On The World To Change
- Born And Raised
- New Light