Five years since his last appearance in the capital city, singer-songwriter John Mayer brought his “Search for Everything” tour to a packed Schottenstein Center Wednesday night with support from Los Angeles’ indie pop trio LANY.
With a set list divided into five chapters, fans were able to see the versatility of the musician’s six-album career while also noticing growth, maturity and redemption as the overall themes of the tour and his upcoming release.
Chapter One: Introduction
Mayer, accompanied by his full band during the first chapter, didn’t shy away from starting the show out strong, opening with the guitar-driven “Belief” off of his critically acclaimed record “Continuum.” The singer’s time spent last summer with Grateful Dead spiritual successor, Dead & Company was evident as the crowd was constantly thrust into hypnotic guitar solos with the occasional call-and-response between his guitar and the instruments of his band.
Every bit of the performance, from the placement of the band members to the screen behind them, all played a part in developing the immersive experience.
A giant screen acted as the backdrop for the stage, and as Mayer shifted between songs, the background transitioned between images of the L.A. skyline as a lower set of screens displayed what can only be described as seaside dock or balcony. The production was truly beyond words.
Chapter Two: Acoustic
After 5 songs, Mayer smoothly transitioned into Chapter Two: Acoustic with a performance of “In Your Atmosphere” and Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’”, two songs that have become a staple at Mayer’s live shows.
The acoustic set continued with minimal use of the electric guitar, but before moving into Chapter Three: Trio, Mayer beckoned everyone to go back in time to their former selves, himself included, as he played one of his biggest hits, “Your Body is a Wonderland”, a song he says doesn’t reflect who he is anymore. This fit the theme of his “Search for Everything” perfectly.
Chapter Three: Trio
The second that chapter three rolled around, the stage was transformed into a minimalistic set-up intended to exemplify the John Mayer Trio consisting of Steve Jordan on drums, Pino Palladino on bass, and of course, Mayer on the electric guitar. The show dove head first into the rabbit hole, immersing the crowd into the smokey grit of blues rock with covers of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Bold as Love,” complete with five-plus minutes of Mayer masterfully shredding away on the guitar.
After the interstellar adventure of chapter three, Chapter Four: Full Band (reprise) returned us back to earth.
Chapter Four: Reprise
Mayer brought his full band back on stage to play the recent singles “Still Feel Like Your Man”, accompanied by an impressive piano solo from keyboardist Larry Goldings, as well as “Moving On and Getting Over,” which he made sure to run back again, much slower, to embody the song’s R&B vibe.
Chapter Five: Epilogue
As the show transitioned into the final chapter, Chapter Five: Epilogue, Mayer told the audience they were in for a treat. The backdrop and floor panels illuminated with a bright white light and the Mayer’s longtime friend and Ohio native Dave Chapelle emerged from backstage. The two continued with some on-stage banter before Chapelle asked everyone to put away their devices as Mayer went into the final piano ballad “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me” dedicated to the late comedian Charlie Murphy.
John Mayer’s “The Search for Everything” tour is a glimpse of the musician’s evolution over the years as both a human and an entertainer. He illustrates the duality of this life perfectly by juxtaposing humanist sentiments with soul shredding guitar. Audiences can expect to be taken into five chapters of Mayer’s career, further proving his “Search for Everything” has concluded. Mayer has found himself in the music, and fans can expect to find themselves too.
If you would like to experience it for yourself you can catch Mayer on one of his remaining tour dates.
About Kris Perez
Kris Perez writes and reviews for NID Magazine.