On night one of John Mayer‘s two-night stint at Madison Square Garden, the crowd wrapped around the venue stadium-style for the sold out show. While John’s behind definitely isn’t a bad site, the singer’s approach to taking over MSG was something to be seen. In sea of screaming men and women swaying along to his hypnotizing voice, John Mayer successfully turned the iconic arena into what felt like a small, private venue, with his personalized set-list, smaller stage and overall simplicity. Without an opener, a JCM logo bounced around jumptrons above the stage as John and his band entered the scene to kick off the show at 8:00 PM. Following an epic guitar intro, John broke into fan-favorite “Love On The Weekend, as blue and purple lights brightened up the set. He followed up with “Who Says?” and the purple hues became more dramatic and on-brand, as the color mimicked his merch collab with Online Ceramics.
Unlike other performers who have recently take on Madison Square Garden, John Mayer’s goal was clear — he was there to do what he loves to do — sing and play guitar. The Connecticut-native hardly spoke between songs, and instead interacted with the excited audience during guitar solos. At one point, he did turn around to the screaming crowd behind him and admitted he broke “every rule in theater” by opening up the back of the stadium for more seats. However, because of the stage set-up, and the festival-feel to the show, it absolutely worked. John’s set list included “I Don’t Trust Myself,” which involved a massive and emotional guitar solo, “In The Blood,” “Waiting On The World To Change” (which was met with huge screams), “Edge Of Desire” and a cover of Grateful Dead’s “Deal.” He also showed off his harmonica skills with “Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey,” which was a highlight of the evening.
For John, there was no need for an outfit change, dancers or props. His only prop was his many guitars that never fail to entertain and captivate the audience in each song — having the same effect as a new sparkling look on J.Lo or a Britney Spears dance number. Following a brief intermission, John returned to the stage with “Emoji Of A Wave” — a song that shows how in touch with the world, his feelings and his audience the singer really is. John continued with “In Your Atmosphere,” his beloved “Free Fallin'” cover, a bluesy rendition of “Helpless,” “Something Like Olivia,” “Still Feel Like Your Man” with a cheeky panda graphic, “If I Ever Get Ahold Of Me” and of course, “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room.” After a brief monologue, he went into Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open The Door” and then “Age Of Worry.” In a brief monologue, John admitted that the song, which documents the anxiety of getting older, was something he really went through, and hoped it would help others. He then embraced his pop roots with “Why Georgia?” before once again, turning to the audience to thank them for “being patient” with him. “Thank you so much for something I didn’t know existed, playing music for pure love,” he said to the sold-out crowd with sincere gratitude. “It really does mean the world to me.” Then, with the sense of humor we typically see him show on Instagram, John admitted he was taking a bath the night before and texted his guitarist, “I’ve known you longer than Shawn Mendes has been alive.”
It was these small moments that made John Mayer’s MSG show feel so intimate and personalized. The next night at the Garden, he delivered a completely different show, performing his full Continuum album. Just witnessing his musical genius live made clear that John Mayer’s in a league of his own — from his voice to his guitar talent, to his ever-relevant lyrics to his nearly sold-out merch line. If you have the chance to see John Mayer live, no matter where in the world, there is no doubt you will be made to feel like you are in a quaint venue with just John and his guitar.