John Mayer kicks out Chicago ‘believers’ on first night at United Center [Photos]
John Mayer Thursday kicked off a two-night stay at united center in Chicago, IL, a city to which the singer-songwriter and guitarist feels “molecularly connected”. The Chicago run comes at the end of a tour supporting his acclaimed 2021 album, bloody rock.
Related: John Mayer Invites Maren Morris to Slow Dance in a Burning Room in Nashville [Videos]
Mayer opened the evening with the album’s lead track, “Last Train Home,” featuring a booming drum intro illuminated only by the night’s only flash of a neon “Sob Rock” sign from the width. from the scene. The 21-song set continued as a three-part act, starting with a full set, followed by an acoustic set, then back to the full band.
Mayer played a medley of hits from his 21-year career, including “Gravity,” “New Light,” “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” and “Your Body is a Wonderland,” which he kicked off as he told fans “let’s just have a good time…I think we can do some believers with some non-believers. He also got the die-hard fans in with rare live performances of favorites like ‘In Your Atmosphere’, ‘Roll It On Home’ and the much sought-after “Assassin” from 2009’s Battle Studies.
This tour, however, is by no means a greatest hits showcase – it is a bloody rock to visit. Mayer and company played six of the album’s ten tracks, including the songwriter’s personal favorite, “Wild Blue,” which he told fans was written while he sat on the floor from his home during quarantine. Other Sob Rock tracks on Thursday’s show included “Shot in the Dark”, “Shouldn’t Matter But It Does” and “I Guess I Just Feel Like”, which featured a long guitar solo accompanied by moving background vocals.
A little less than 40 minutes, bloody rock is a concept album that pays homage to ’80s rock, featuring everything from hard-hitting synths to reverb drums, while infusing Mayer’s guitar sound and warm vocals. The album release was also supported by a marketing campaign saturated with oversized jackets and neon colors. Everything has been intentionally designed to inject a touch of humor and tone that suggests not to be taken too seriously.
Musically, however, Mayer took bloody rock very seriously – and this is arguably his most skillfully crafted album to date. The immaculate production shows proof that Mayer was involved in every aspect of the making of the album. From choosing snare drum sounds to playing bass on three tracks, every element of every song was carefully considered and given equal weight.
Backing Mayer on this tour is a list of star bands, most of which helped him record bloody rock. The band, which has had its ups and downs throughout the tour, includes other guitarists David Ryan Harris and Isaiah Sharkeylegendary bassist and member of the John Mayer Trio, Pino Palladino, Aaron Sterling on drums and former keyboardist of Michael Jackson/Toto, Greg Phillinganes.
Although Mayer is probably the greatest guitarist of our generation, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to share the limelight on stage. Notable moments on Thursday night included a solo call-and-response performance between Mayer and Phillinganes on the keytar as well as a cover of Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones” sung by Harris. Mayer even handed over lead guitar to Isaiah Sharkey several times throughout the night, including during “Your Body is a Wonderland.”
Mayer closed the evening with an encore performance of “New Light”. The crowd roared and demanded even more after the lights came back on, suggesting that Mayer had, in fact, made them believe.
John Mayer has only six dates left on his bloody rock tour, including another in Chicago, before hitting the road with Death and Company again this month of June. For a list of tour dates and remaining tickets, click here.
Check out a photo gallery from the Chicago show below via Josh Druding.
set list: John Mayer | United Center | Chicago, Ill. | 04/28/22
Set: Last Train Home, Belief, Who Says, Shot in the Dark, Something Like Olivia, Helpless, I Guess I Just Feel Like, Can’t Find My Way Home (Blind Faith)*, Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967* , In Your Atmosphere*, It Shouldn’t Matter But It Is*^, Your Body Is a Wonderland, Rosie, Stop This Train%, The Beautiful Ones (Prince)#, Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, Wild Blue, Gravity
Encore: Roll It On Home, New Light
^ with excerpt from Forever Young (Bob Dylan)
%with Homeward Bound (Simon & Garfunkel) excerpt
#sung by David Ryan Harris