John Mayer Stretches Songbook & Solos at Phoenix’s Talking Stick Arena (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

John Mayer had an epic night in Phoenix as he mesmerized a near 18,000 crowd of fans at Phoenix’s Talking Stick Arena on September 10th. Mayer has shifted gears as an entertainer since his career-defining first album, Room For Squares. He has moved from pop to blues, to country and Americana and to the lead guitarist of Dead and Company. 

Mayer has gained fame for more than just his music since signing with Columbia records in 2000. There are his infamous romances with Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Jessica Simpson, and Jennifer Anniston to name a few. He has a reputation for his liberal use of social media and his interviews in Rolling Stone and other printed publications as being controversial. There was also his health scare with a nodule on his vocal cords that caused him to postpone recording and touring from 2010-2013. 

Most importantly, one thing that has been very clear throughout Mayer’s career is that Mayer is an exceptionally talented songwriter, singer and axeman. It was apparent at 2000’s Beale Street Music Festival and even more apparent now in 2019. The show had a setlist that represented his entire career as the Grammy Award winner’s vocals seemed spot on and his guitar playing was extraordinary leaving the fans wanting much more.

Mayer introduced “Your Body is a Wonderland” as a song loved by the women in the crowd but he was afraid it was ‘cringe-worthy’ for the guys. He joked, “I promise a searing guitar solo” toward the end of the song for the guys. Mayer delivered on his promise. Mayer can noodle and rift with the best guitar players in existence. That has and can be experienced with Dead and Company or with the upcoming Eric Clapton’s Guitar Music Festival. 

The show didn’t have many gimmicks to visually stimulate the fans aside from a background overhead video screen that projected desert scenes and bursts of bright colors that blended at times with various angles of the performer. Mayer let the music do the talking and that was plenty for intermittently screaming fans. The screaming was especially high when, Mayer brought out “Why, Georgia” from his songbook. Mayer’s new release, “Carry Me Away.” He promises a new album release in 2020.

Mayer had a large backing band. The band included Pino Palladino on bass, David Ryan Harris on guitars, Isaiah Sharkey on guitars, Aaron Sterling on drums, Aaron Draper on percussion, Jamie Muhoberac on keyboards, Carlos Ricketts on vox, Tiffany Palmer on vox, and two background singers. Banter was kept at a minimum and the show was focused on singing and shredding through 25 songs during the two set show. Everyone’s performance was stellar.

Mayer could easily be called a musician’s musician. His shredding could easily have been elaborated more. The only criticism would be that he could have done more straight-ahead blues. The tall, handsome balladeer is a crowd-pleaser and carries a two-plus hour show incredibly well. 

John Mayer Setlist Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ, USA, World Tour 2019

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