Review: John Mayer lets the guitar do the talking and welcomes Tampa to his ‘Sob Rock’ fantasy land (with photos) | Tampa

John Mayer’s debut EP was a self-released 1999 collection of songs he called The inside wants out, and over the past 23 years, the 44-year-old songwriter and guitarist has definitely let loose. His expression has sometimes been to his own detriment (that dumb mouth has said some pretty dumb shit over the years), but it’s always been a dedication to the fans who still obsess over every second of his discography appearing from eight albums and an ubiquitous musical unknown he still pursues nightly as a headliner and sideman in the Grateful Dead.

During nearly 14,000 Mayerheads at Tampa’s Amalie Arena on Tuesday, Mayer and a nine-piece band spent two hours touching nearly every chapter of his career as part of a 19-song set in support of his last album, bloody rock (nothing heavier things, Paradise Valley or Inside was played, setlist below).

And as has been the trend lately, Mayer – who appeared at Bob Weir’s New York album release party and “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” the day before the Tampa concert – left his guitar speak the most.

Said six-string was almost always an iteration of his signature PRS Silver Sky, and the battle ax shone immediately, starting with the Sob Rock set and opener “Last Train Home” where Mayer – dressed in a beige blazer oversized, matching leather boots and blue jeans – slowly woke up as the front of house mix found its voice amidst fat conga pops from Lenny Castro and synth waves from Jamie Muhoberac and Greg Phillinganes.

Mayer, who last played Amalie in 2017, and his wah pedal helped the PRS pull off a scene with big solos on “Belief” that left the songwriter happy, city-dwelling country-rock on the second. half of “If I Ever Get Around To Living”, and again to the signature riff of the popular “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room”. Mayer even shared the shredder spotlight with ace guitarist Isaiah Sharkey on smoldering twin solos during “Edge Of Desire”.

Sharkey is a guitarist’s guitarist, and like all the musicians in Mayer’s band, he has a credit list about half a mile long, but he and the rest of the ensemble, including bassist Pino Palladino, who performed on perhaps the greatest album of all time. , Voodoo— were content to let the talent before Bridgeport, Connecticut be the center of the show.

Of course, there were times, like on “Belief,” where you could really feel the presence of drummer Aaron Sterling who was back in a lineup that kicked off the tour with ex-Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers timekeeper. Steve Ferrone. And, yes, there was that moment during an encore performance of “New Light” where keyboardist Greg Phillinganes exuberantly joined vocalists Tiffany Palmer and Carlos Ricketts on the bandstand. David Ryan Harris’ falsetto on an abbreviated cover of Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones” is and always will be legendary among the Mayer faithful.

Greg Phillinganes (L) and David Ryan Harris - PHOTO BY PHIL DESIMONE

Photo by Phil DeSimone

Greg Phillinganes (L) and David Ryan Harris

But the session’s collective of aces were more than happy to help Mayer bop (“Olivia”), laugh through vocal harmonies on a bridge (“I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)) and simply to provide the backdrop of a bandleader who also lets himself still be the coffeeshop kid working on breakups during an open mic (“Emoji of a Wave,” “In Your Atmosphere”).

And the highlights have really arrived bloody rock songs where the on-stage crew lot was clearly having fun with Mayer’s new album with 80s flavors. The stage often sounded like the inside of a Trapper Keeper (especially on the soft-rock banger” Shot In the Dark”). On “Wild Blue,” Mayer got to shouldering and produced his impeccable guitar tone on another effortless solo that felt like coming home early from the bar after three beers, with the windows down on your Ford. Two-door Escort Mk3.

While Mayer’s guitar playing was the star of the show, he took some time out to poke fun at his relationship with “Your Body Is A Wonderland,” which put him on the map for better and for worse. worse, and thought “Edge Of Desire” was probably the “most emo song I have in my repertoire”.

After a run through “Til the Right One Comes” that turned into a medley of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” Mayer got serious to thank fans for hanging on bloody rock songs despite being almost a year old. He said the same for all of his work which has been around for much, much longer.

“You keep these songs like they’re all happening right now, thank you,” he told Amalie Arena. “Thank you for putting all your energy into this music.”

When this tour wraps up next month and the dead take a break from the road in July, Mayer will take some time to go back inside and plumb the depths of his mind for a plan to navigate a new chapter in his life. – untethered from his eight-disc contract with Columbia and ready to release music again. At this point, a guitar is probably the only musical certainty in the equation, but fans can bet that when Mayer is ready, he’ll come back ready to let out whatever he found in there.


set list

Last train home
A shot in the dark
I don’t trust myself (with loving you)
The belief
Who says
Something like Olivia
I guess I just want
wave emoji
In your atmosphere
Free fall’
Your body is wonderland
wild blue
(Soundcheck Song)
edge of desire
If I ever manage to live
Les Belles (Prince)
Dancing slowly in a room on fire
Until the good comes
You can call me Al (Paul Simon)

It shouldn’t matter but it does
new light

Listen to a playlist of songs from the show on Tidal.

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