Review: John Mayer at Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, March 29, 2019
John Mayer knows himself, deeply, and alongside that, he also deeply knows his audience – and the exact way to entertain them. His music can’t be defined by just the one genre – blending together elements of blues, country, rock, folk, pop, and even soul, Mayer has created a fluid and dynamic body of work that has managed to reach a colossal variety of people worldwide.
After five years away from Aussie shores, the American singer-songwriter was back to impress his many fans Down Under, touring his latest album The Search For Everything.
His ‘An Evening With John Mayer’ tour saw him head first to Brisbane, then to Melbourne, with us here at Tone Deaf lucky enough to catch his final Australian show at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena on Friday, March 29.
There was no opener for this show – instead, John came on at 7:30, had a half an hour intermission at 8:30, and then continued on for another hour, giving the entire night an even more theatrical and special feel than that of a regular concert.
A quick skim through his previous setlists online told us that not one show was the same – there was no pre-defined order that he kept rigid through this run of shows. Instead, each performance had been given its own special twist, giving Mayer the freedom to entertain the crowd between each song, and then show his prowess as a leader as he gracefully brought the band through each track they performed.
He kicked the night off in Sydney with his Continuum smooth banger ‘Belief’, and then seamlessly moved through tracks from his entire discography, from ‘Waiting on the World to Change’, through to ‘New Light’.
The night featured songs 25 songs from all 7 of his studio albums (with a cover of Tom Petty’s ‘Free Fallin’ thrown in for good measure), but although the wide musical ground he managed to cover on the night, he acknowledged the ever-pressing issue between artists and their fans of which tracks get played on a tour:
“Everyone’s got a different [favourite song]. I’ll go back to my hotel room and open up my DM’s and people are still very upset with the songs we didn’t play, but it’s that kind of upset that creates the bond between us – there’s a magic bond between you and I, and there’s a little bit of upset all the time, a little bit of just low-grade disappointment.’
‘I would have been ok, and I would have looked at the bright side of going around the world and playing the same 12 songs over and over again. I would have made do with that – that just doesn’t excite me, and I don’t think it excites you, and you guys want to take the ride and listen to these songs, and little pages that turn from song to song. It just means the world to me, this is the best job anyone’s got in music, I’m sure of it. So thank you for coming along for the ride.’
His on-stage charm is palpable, and it comes out especially in the fact that he doesn’t shy away from owning his past. His banter, although mildly self-deprecating, shows a man who is at peace with himself, where he is in the world, where he has been before, and how he will continue to change in the future.
This came out most through his introduction to arguably his most famous and successful song, ‘Your Body Is A Wonderland’:
‘There’s something about first songs that you write before you know better, before you really know better. You shoot all this extra shit in to a song, like this song has got to have EVERYTHING. And I went through a few years where I ducked it, I didn’t love it, people would scream it at me down the street – guys mostly.
A lot of people make a very slight but crucial change to the title. if they don’t know my music very well they call it ‘My Body Is A Wonderland’, which is an entirely different thing. But now, at this age, maybe it’s a bit like taking out a photo of myself when I was 22, and going “look at those pants, how did I think those were the pants to wear?” But musically speaking, look at the smile on my face wearing those pants, I was having a good time wearing those pants… so let’s all get into these pants together shall we”
Closing the night off with ‘Gravity’, Mayer proved throughout his show that he has managed to create a family of his fans through his music and that they are willing to back him through all of his endeavours – and most importantly, he backs himself.
Monday, 25th March
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane
Wednesday, 27th March
Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Friday, 29th March
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney