“It’s been a long night in New York City… it’s been a long night in Newark too…”
Saturday night John Mayer kicked off his SOLO tour at The Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. I am not sure I realized I was going to the kick off show when I first bought tickets, but even once I did realize it was going to be the opening night I still didn’t realize just how special it would be.
I had never been to the Prudential Center before. I ended up buying an accessible ticket and parking in the garage that had a bridge to the center (for a whopping $51). I was pleasantly surprised that once I got inside I was almost at my section! I couldn’t have planned that better if I had tried.
JP Saxe opened the show, I didn’t think I knew anything about him, but then he sang “If the World Was Ending” and I did know that song. He seemed to like the F-word but otherwise was a nice 30 minute or so set.
As soon as the lights dimmed for John, pretty much everyone was up on their feet. When he kicked off the show with Slow Dancing in a Burning Room I knew this setlist was going to be pretty bananas, and that it absolutely was. There were a handful of songs I hoped/thought he would play and I think he hit almost all of them. I’ll be curious to see how the setlists changes (or not) as the tour progresses. He had also said that the setlist was just a suggestion and at any time a sign could knock him into a different song entirely. It seemed like he only ended up adding one song from the printed setlist – Split Screen Sadness. All I Wans Is To Be With You was on the setlist but was skipped.
“There’s no tour in my entire life I thought about more than this one. There’s not been more times in my life that I have been on this stage in my mind than this one. I have been here before a thousand times. Half of those times it was a BUST. But I forgot about the fact that you’d be here in your own loving and incredibly enthusiastic way and now I realize that everything’s ok” he said after finishing Queen of California and it seemed to take him a few songs to shake off those first show doing something completely new nerves. He also mentioned he had talked to his pal Andy Cohen that morning, as he does every morning, and Andy assured him that we knew what we were getting into when we bought the tickets – that it would be him SOLO and that’s what we were expecting.
My favorite part had to be when he played a video of him from 2002 before Room For Squares was taking off and then did Neon and Why Georgia. He also talked a bit about how he’s not really nostalgic for his songs/work that he’s done (and acknowledged that we are) and that he may not feel the same way as he did when he wrote some of the songs, but the songs are a reminder that at one point he did feel that way. After he did the ‘deep cut’ Home Life, I’m not sure if he thought it went over very well, because he teased a bit of “On Broadway” and said it was a trick to make people who didn’t dig it forget all about it and defer the applause… He also started Wonderland – to massive cheers – and then asked if the song was stupid. But said he was going to sing it sincerely. Has he not been all these years?!
He played the piano for a few songs – a bit of New Light, You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me and Changing. At the end of Changing he ended up looping the piano and playing the electric guitar over it and it was pretty amazing. He said it was some of the craziest shit he’s done. He also said he had made a rule that he wouldn’t loop the guitar this tour – but he didn’t say he couldn’t loop the piano. He also said he was allowed to break the rule – which he did end up breaking before the show was over.
There was a new song Driftin’ – in the set. Online chatter seems to be that everyone loves it but I wasn’t that into it. Of course, maybe hearing it a few more times will change my mind as I’m always a little iffy about new songs the first time I hear them. He also talked a bit about Why You No Love Me and how he wasn’t going to play that because he didn’t think it worked and wouldn’t it be funny if he DID play it. But he’s not playing it.
When he left at the end of the main set I was hoping he’d do an encore. The entire place went NUTS. I’ve never been one to get goosebumps, but I absolutely had them. I hope John felt it too because he seemed very unsure how him solo was going to go over. And it went over amazingly well. I’m so glad I’m getting to see another show on this tour in a couple of weeks.
I do kind of wish that the venues were a bit more intimate for this type of show – but the ticket sales and demand seemed to be so crazy he probably did need the larger venues. I also feel like I cheated listening back to the recording to write this… but if it’s out there might as well use all the resources I can, right?