Photographs by Randall Vasquez.
John Mayer returned to Toronto on Monday night playing to a sold out crowd at the Air Canada Centre. It’s been over three years since Mayer’s last significant tour, not to mention equally as long since the release of new music. With two EPs already released in 2017 and his seventh studio album set to drop in a week, Mayer is ushering in The Search for Everything era with gusto. Setting the mood for the night was Los Angeles rock trio The Record Company.
To try and emphasize John Mayer’s musicality is a particularly frustrating task. He is, without a doubt, the most influential guitar player of a generation. And while that last statement may seem hyperbolic it is indeed tried and true with an impressive career to back it up. Mayer’s genre bending pop-meets-blues-meets-folk-meets-funk stylings were blatantly on showcase Monday night, projected on the massive screen behind the stage for all to see. Switching effortlessly between guitars – both electric and acoustic – not a single song in the 2+ hour set didn’t impress. The sleek and vibrant stage set-up impressed as well, with Mayer standing on a dynamic screen-filled top that played intricate designs, including at one point acting as an LA pool at dusk, adding an extra layer of imagery for fans in the top of the stands. It’s worth mentioning that John paused the show for a few moments to pose for the photographers. He’s hilarious and said these photos will make the show look fun and fans will buy future tour date tickets. Got to love him!
Speaking additionally to Mayer’s immense talent was the wide ranging set list for the evening. Despite dubbing the tour “The Search for Everything Tour” to reflect the new release, the show tiptoed around the essence of a greatest hits performance. Each night of this tour boasts a unique set list with songs falling inside four “chapters”: Chapter 1 Full Band, Chapter 2 Acoustic, Chapter 3 John Mayer Trio, Chapter 4 Full Band (Reprise). For Toronto, “Belief” kicked off the evening (a 2006 release with a timely message), followed by 2009’s “Heartbreak Warfare” and then funky “Moving On and Getting Over” from 2017’s Wave One EP. This is to say that in a matter minutes Mayer covered 10 years of his musical history seamlessly – and he continued to do so throughout the evening spanning his entire 15+ year career. There was a tip of his hat to the poppier breakout days (thanks to “Why Georgia” and a spectacular acoustic rendition of “Neon”) and a full throttle blues rock meltdown thanks to the reunion of Mayer, Pino Palladino, and Steve Jordan as John Mayer Trio.
What perhaps pushed Toronto over the edge in terms of memorability was when Mayer welcomed Pickering’s own Shawn Mendes to the stage during the acoustic chapter to perform a medley of Mendes’ hit song “Mercy” and Mayer’s deep cut “In Your Atmosphere”. The result was spellbinding and heartwarming to witness the 18-year-old not only perform but also hold his own alongside his musical idol.
There’s an undeniable longevity to John Mayer and his music that goes without saying. It’s the perfect blend of raw talent, a dash of showmanship, a sprinkle of charisma, and a whole serving of passion. Without a doubt he will continue to enrich the modern musical landscape with flocks of eager fans willing and ready to continue on his Search for Everything. If you somehow missed this show, have no fear. John will be back in Toronto on August 29, 2017 at the Budweiser Stage.