I feel the need to preface this review of Saturday’s show with stating that I in no way am a fan of stadium concerts. I have always felt they ruin the intimacy you get with a small venue and the artist goes from being a person we the audience connect and converse with, to some entity who is there for nothing but our viewing pleasure and without substance like a puppet. Much to my surprise and enjoyment John Mayer’s show made me at the very least question that feeling enough to give another chance to stadium shows. John and Lany, thank you for changing my mind on things and for the great show. Let’s get to why you’re here reading my ramblings my fellow fans.
Prefacing my night, I got to the Xcel Energy Center around 7 on Saturday night after hauling it home from seeing family in Lutsen for the holiday. To that point I say to the State Patrol of Minnesota and the fine folks who shared the road with me that day, thank you for being so “efficient” in your commuting so I made it in record time. When I arrived the arena was nearly full for when LANY hit the stage and I will be honest at this time I still wasn’t sure who the hell LANY was and wasn’t sure what to expect from them.
LANY opened with a track I still cannot pin down sadly so you’ll have to excuse my lack of intel on some of their songs as they sounded brand new or were variations which I can’t find on Spotify to recall now. But none the less the first songs LANY broke out were catchy and had me feeling like I was experiencing some of the 80s pop hits my own parents still rave about and I once thought were “lame oldies”. As they say fads come in cycles, 80s synth pop among them. It was around the time they LANY began playing Where The Hell Are My Friends that I began to realize, I know these guys but just can’t pin it. To that point “Where The Hell Are My Friends” is a fantastic song you don’t really expect much from and it hooks you by the chorus.The set continued with Pink Skies and Current Location which unfortunately didn’t do much for me and felt like filler. Which was fine by me, because the final song they broke out was “ILYSB”, and in that moment I remembered where I had heard LANY before. Overall a solid set to open for a night of jamming and throwback songs. And in the words of Barney Stinson “a playlist should be all rise”, which it definitely was.
The first third of the show focused on more of his new tracks and was a good warm up to the show as I wasn’t all that familiar with tracks like Changing or Who Says and really enjoyed them as I am a fanboy of the old John Mayer circa 2004. Now I apologize before stating my confusion at this point in the show and my language but I still am not sure how else to put it. The full band left the stage after Changing and they transitioned for an acoustic mini set. And this is verbatim my notes from the show “ at this point in the show John had a zen garden back drop displayed and a Japanese garden bridge rolled onto stage, WTF is happening here”. It took nothing away from his performance for the acoustic set including songs such as Free Fallin’ or Neon. But the entire time this was on stage I kept thinking why in the world is this happening and is John rebelling against whoever made this ridiculous show plan by NEVER setting a foot on the little bridge beside him?. I am still getting over that part of the show. But to answer your question, acoustic set was great and I was really happy to hear some of the songs which drew me into his music in the first place.
After the visit to Mt.Fuji, yes that was also showing behind him the whole set, the show reached the moment I had been waiting years for. Enter the Trio members John, Pino Palladino, and Steve Jordan. I am fuzzy on the specifics on how long the guys were apart but to their credit the Trio opened by having a fitting quote from John himself saying “I always knew the Trio was gonna come back, I think now is the time”
The Trio’s set was short as track numbers go but they opened with a 5 minute jam session and flowed from one song to the next. Each lasting at least 5 or so minutes as the guys bounced back and forth with guitar rifts and drum solos. My favorite part of the Trio’s jamming was definitely Vultures. Aside from Gravity or Who Did You Think I Was, Vultures has always been a staple for me from the 2005 Trio album and I was insanely excited to hear them play it just as well this show as the original recording.
The full band returned a short break later and closed the show with some old and new including Why Georgia, a long time favorite of mine, and Waiting on the World to Change. I am happy to report that by this time the backdrop for the show was no longer Mt. Fiji but now a wooden ski lodge looking scene and then eventually retro filtered photos of the band members. The song choice at the end of the show being old and new albums was a nice tip of the hat to the wide range of ages present I felt.
To nobody’s shock but my own John and the band came back on for an encore to close up with Slow Dancing in a Burning Room and Still Feel Like Your Man. Both songs hit a chord with the whole crowd and you could sense that everyone was tuned in still. The final twist, perhaps just to me, was when a white piano was rolled out after the stage was cleared and John came out solo for one last song and played You’re Gonna Live in Me Forever. A strangely poetic bow as the show finished and he disappeared walking through a Truman Show like door on the stage and the lights came on. Suffice it to say if you haven’t seen John Mayer and company live, you’re missing out. The contrast in genres as well as the sheer skill with which the entire group plays is something to enjoy and there’s a solid mix of stand up sing alongs, crying acoustic tracks, and straight up baby making jams. I’ll be happy to catch John and the Trio the next time I have the opportunity. It was a pleasure Mr.Mayer.