John Mayer: The Search for Everything Tour – Charlotte
The Pavilion got steamy with John Mayer
I have to admit I’m going to break a few journalism rules and speak from my perspective – the fan not the unbiased journalist. Sure, I was excited to be able to cover such a musical legend in my eyes; nor do I use the label “musical legend” loosely. When I was coming up in the music world, raised by a working mom on the road touring with musicians, I learned quickly who was a diva, who were fly-by ‘some’ hit wonders to not really worry about, and who was a talent, otherwise known as the real deal. All have passion, some have talent, and the last have “it.”
When I met John Mayer in late 2001, early 2002, he was just starting to get critical acclaim. I saw him on a night off show run in a dingy venue with not many attending. He in a dark corner, strumming his guitar, dark glasses on his face; this made me hum “I wear my sunglasses at night” to a slight giggle and nod before he then tore into his guitar. It started to scream, and then cry, and I pulled up a chair sat and watched what I knew one day would be JOHN FREAKING MAYER, not just John Mayer.
Fast forward 15 years and I am tasked with the pleasure of stepping foot into his photo pit for the first time since I had a stroke in early May. I’ve been bedridden and some nights listless on the facts of how my life turned completely upside down. For a month, I couldn’t watch TV as I just couldn’t process what was going on, and my normal barrage of music I listened to was all too angsty and loud for me to deal with. Noises hurt, and for a music photojournalist my sight was off and MUSIC hurt.
I listened to softer music to have that outlet and some songs were just unbearable, but John Mayer’s voice didn’t hurt. His albums got me through a dark place, and here I stand, months after my stroke, healing well, crying my ass off in front of John FREAKING Mayer. The anticipation of the show, and the fact I’ve wanted to photograph this show for so long alongside it being my first time back in a photo pit since Bon Jovi in Nov of 2016, made for an emotional tidal wave. Here is how it all went down.
Some may take the hurricane weather and purgatory-like traffic patterns to be an omen; like a sign from the universe that this wasn’t meant to happen. A little rain and some lines wasn’t going to stop me from getting to the pit, but it did delay my arrival. I walked straight into the 80s as The Night Game was nearing the end of their set. Fronted by Boys Like Girls vocalist Martin Johnson, the John Hughes-esque outfit put on a show that would challenge even the most avid of music listeners to a game of “whose band is this?” While Johnson’s vocals are as clear cut and pop-punk as usual, it’s as if BLG took a time machine to the past, though there are distinct differences between the acts.
Though they played a variety of their lead single, “The Outfield,” was clearly the song the people of Charlotte needed to hear. Featuring backing vocals from Gotye, the song was the perfect anthem to set the tone for Mayer’s set to come. The fog machines might have been a bit too much, but the music was just that good. Or maybe Charlotte was just THAT humid.
The Night Game has found the formula to induce nostalgia while veiling their music in modern tones. And as I sit here, attempting to describe what they sound like, and doing it poorly, I can’t help but wonder why you just aren’t looking them up for yourself. Get to it!
As the Night Game cleared off the stage, I was met with hugs and grins from all the familiar faces I hadn’t seen in ages. Man, it felt good to be home. I settled into the pit, felt the pieces coming together, and soon noticed the huge LED screen that indicated Mayer’s camp was filming.
This meant us photographers had to hang out on the sides of the pit, but it was an honor nonetheless.
Mayer’s crowd was diverse, the stage set-up was amazing, and the sound was on point.
The storms and frustrations from earlier in the night meant nothing as Mayer graced the stage, acting as if he’d been there his whole life. His guitar tone sounded like heaven, untouched by many, as he opened with “Helpless” and transitioned into “Moving On and Getting Over” and “Something Like Olivia.”
The first few songs were a blur of happy tears, goofy grins, and healing, and I couldn’t have asked for a better night back. Mayer was in a jovial mood, smiling and yucking it up for the Queen City. I even got a largely coveted Mayer smile and wink.
Tears streamed down my face during my time in the photo pit; I was overwhelmed with emotions about being back in my happy place and I was side by “on-the-side” with John Mayer.
The living legend asked the crowd to bear with him as he was performing songs from seven different albums, using four different styles of guitar playing. There was not a noticeable slip-up throughout the night as Mayer played some greatest hits “Why Georgia,” “Your Body Is a Wonderland,” “Queen of California,” and “Slow Dancing In a Burning Room.”
Perhaps the most fitting song, and the most healing, was his performance of “Waiting On The World To Change.” With the chaos happening in the world, and more recently in Charlottesville, VA, “Waiting On The World To Change” was exactly what we needed for a moment of peace. If you keep up with his social media he was tweeting all about the state of the world earlier in the day.
Mayer closed out his 20-song set with “You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me,” leaving us all a happy and sated.
The Search For Everything Tour is not even close to being over and you’ve still got plenty of chances to catch The Night Game and John Mayer bring you to your knees. The tour is making its way through the south, up the East coast, and finishing up in the mid-West before he takes over South America. Do not, do not, do NOT sleep on the chance to grab tickets to this tour!