John Mayer came back for another bite of the Big Apple on Monday night for his second of two shows at New York, NY’s Madison Square Garden. With drummer Steve Ferrone and vocalist Carlos Ricketts sidelined for night two following positive COVID-19 tests, Mayer and the remaining band members leaned into the Monday vibes, leading the crowd through a mostly-acoustic set of Sob Rock tunes and repertoire oldies along with a couple of surprises. A special guest sit-in by The Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson late in the set capped the concert with a few cathartic, fully electric classics.

Alexander 23 delivered a solid opening performance once again before Mayer and his band emerged onstage. Seated and playing an acoustic, Mayer launched into Room For Squares favorite “Neon”, which brought everyone to their feet and got the crowd swaying. Up next, eager fans finally got a live rendition of the “ballad version” of “Last Train Home” before the band delivered “Shot In the Dark”, another cut from the new album that’s fast becoming a repertoire staple.

John Mayer – “Daughters” – 2/21/22

[Video: elysiumabovo]

Without Ferrone on the kit, the songs took on a more laid-back energy as percussionist Lenny Castro picked up the slack to add gentle beats and fills. While Pino Palladino kept his electric bass, only rhythm guitarist Isaiah Sharkey remained on electric guitar to texturize these new, acoustic renditions. This format created an intimate atmosphere that helped many folks forgive any disappointment they may have had around the unexpected lineup change. There was a real sense of appreciation in the audience for the perseverance of Mayer, the professionalism and good nature of his band, and the resulting uniqueness of the show.

After “Shot in the Dark”, Sharkey took over lead guitar duties for a brief but energetic “Belief”. Next, Mayer dipped into The Search For Everything for the first time to perform a moody “In The Blood”. A tender “If I Ever Get Around to Living,” from 2012’s Born & Raised, rounded out the country-tinged pair of tunes.

Newly added touring keyboardist Greg Phillinganes (Toto) once again showed his might on Monday, perhaps nowhere more so than on the ensuing, acoustic “New Light”; the veteran musician helped to fill the night’s sonic gaps with an impeccably phrased keyboard solo and tasteful fills throughout. Continuing with the Sob Rock tunes, Mayer kicked off an all-acoustic rendition of “Wild Blue”, its readily apparent MTV Unplugged vibes clearly not lost on him.

John Mayer – “New Light” – 2/21/22

[Videos: elysiumabovo]

Mayer then ran through “Your Body Is A Wonderland”, “In Your Atmosphere”, and “Something’s Missing” before he and Castro helmed the stage alone to deliver a pure and beautiful take on the Heavier Things classic, “Daughters”. Longtime rhythm guitarist David Ryan Harris helped Mayer follow this up with his beloved cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” from his Trio days, sparking audible delight amongst the sold-out crowd. Mellow, all-acoustic versions of “Carry Me Away”, “Who Says”, and “Stop This Train” followed before a fun “Til the Right One Comes,” featuring another keyboard solo from Phillinganes and an amusing tease of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al”.

John Mayer – “Daughters” – 2/21/22

John Mayer – “Til The Right One Comes”/”You Can Call Me Al” (Paul Simon) – 2/21/22

[Videos: elysiumabovo]

As he strapped on an electric guitar for the first time of the night, Mayer then announced a surprise special guest, Questlove! The Roots drummer came out and counted the band into Continuum classic “Vultures”, allowing Mayer’s lead guitar to finally break loose in a moment of catharsis.

Ongoing dalliance with the Grateful Dead by way of Dead & Company aside, Mayer has virtually always remained within the realm of “pop music.” That said, his appreciation for the progressive R&B sounds of the late ’90s and early ’00s has long permeated his live shows courtesy of Pino and Isaiah. With the addition of Questlove, yet another progenitor of that particular musical aesthetic, Mayer seemed to sit back and appreciate the show as much as he led it. “Pino, Quest, and Sharkey, hit something,” Mayer crowed to kick off funky breakdown led by the group’s esteemed neo-soul core, yet another concert highlight.

John Mayer ft. Questlove – “Vultures” – 2/21/22

[Video: elysiumabovo]

Questlove stayed on the kit and supported the band through “Clarity” and “Something Like Olivia” as the show gained steam in its final quarter. Harris again had his moment in the spotlight with another gorgeous tease of Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones”, which led into “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room”. Questlove’s stripped-down groove fit the overall vibe of the show and let Mayer cap the main set the best way he knows how: with a sweet guitar solo.

John Mayer ft. Questlove – “Clarity” – 2/21/22

[Video: elysiumabovo]

After heading offstage briefly, Mayer, Questlove, and the rest of the band reemerged for a spirited encore performance of “Gravity”, which offered the best territory yet for Mayer’s guitar playing. Naturally, and perhaps fittingly, this encore received the show’s “Filthiest Guitar Solo of the Night” award.

For rising to meet an unexpected “show must go on” kind of moment, Mayer, Questlove, and his band must be commended. In particular, Phillinganes and remaining vocalist Tiffany Palmer tackled a much-increased vocal load with grace, while Sharkey stepped up in more visible moments of lead guitar playing. The guest sit-in by Questlove was the icing on the cake of what already had been a very special show.

Questlove later wrote about the experience in an Instagram post, noting that he was planning to attend the show as a fan. As he was preparing to head out to see “the avengers of music,” as he called the outfit, “I got out my show clothes all excited & then I checked my phone: ‘Ferrone got covid, can you sit in?'”

“Truth be told I coulda played the whole show,” Questlove continued. “I texted Jimmy [Fallon] earlier I felt like Don Henley in 1988 when last min he played drums for [Guns N’ Roses at the [American Music Awards] (weirdest version of #Patience ever). I was anxious, amped, timorous, excited, scared & hyped!! … Gotta say once onstage it was gravy. I haven’t played with this combo since the [Roots Picnic] in nyc 2013 w D’angelo & we haven’t lost a step. It was hella fun tonight!”

In a comment on the post, Mayer responded, “What you did was unforgettable and brilliant. Thank you for saving the day.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Questlove (@questlove)

John Mayer has stated that his next few shows will follow a similar format (minus the “very otherwise-engaged” Questlove) as Ferrone and Ricketts recover from COVID. Next up is a Wednesday, February 23rd in Washington, D.C. For a full list of upcoming John Mayer Sob Rock tour dates, head here.

Setlist: John Mayer | Madison Square Garden | New York, New York | 2/21/22

Set: Neon, Last Train Home, Shot In the Dark, Belief, In The Blood, If I Ever Get Around To Living, New Light, Wild Blue, Your Body Is A Wonderland, In your Atmosphere, Something’s Missing, Daughters, Free Fallin’, Carry Me Away, Who Says, Stop This Train, ‘Til The Right One Comes^, Vultures*, Clarity*, Something Like Olivia*, The Beautiful Ones > Slow Dancing In A Burning Room*

Encore: Gravity*

Notes: Full show without drummer Steve Ferrone and vocalist Carlos Ricketts, who tested positive for COVID-19 before the performance.

^with You Can Call Me Al teast

*with Questlove, Mayer on electric


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by John Mayer 💎 (@johnmayer)