Musician John Mayer and his "The Search For Everything World Tour" made a stop at the United Center in Chicago last night. Longtime fans found everything they needed during a show that eclipsed the two-hour mark. L.A. rockers The Record Company warmed the crowd with a tight set that was their introduction to a majority of the crowd, but left the stage forty minutes later to a standing ovation.
The concert stepped through the various stages of Mayer’s catalogue--treating fans to music supported by a five-piece band and two backup singers, the John Mayer Trio and some acoustic material. About the only thing he didn’t offer on the night was a taste of his work with Dead & Company. The singer-songwriter also provided a glimpse into his imagination that presented the music with a visually stunning video backdrop that reshaped the show during its five specific chapters.
Commencing with Chapter 1: Full Band, the show opened with the upbeat, R&B number “Moving On and Getting Over” and the rocking “Helpless” from his latest album. Mayer greeted the capacity-crowd to the cavernous arena, stating “Welcome to The Search For Everything, we’re going for twenty-two songs, more than any other night.” He cut himself off before adding “I’ll stop talking, let’s go!” He dropped back to 2006’s Continuum for "I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)” and noted that anything is possible on the night. As quickly as the band took the stage to begin the show, it disappeared in a flash behind the high-def video backdrop.
Within seconds, a sparse stage left Mayer alone with a small footbridge and floral backdrop beneath an image of Mt. Fuji. The zen mood was perfect for Chapter 2: Acoustic. He began with his reimagined take on Beyonce’s “XO,” the folk-infused “Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey,” endearing “Daughters” and a take on Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’."
The night’s biggest roar came during the brief interlude that set the stage for Chapter 3: Trio. A video introduction had commentary by Mayer, drummer Steve Jordan and bassist Pino Palladino where the common ground for all was “chemistry.” That notion came to life moments later when they erupted into an upbeat jam session that included the funky “Who Did You Think I Was,” a sing-along on “Vultures” and a cover of “Cross Road Blues” that truly showcased Mayer’s guitar chops (Jordan and Palladino had no problem keeping up).
Chapter 4: Full Band (Reprise) returned to the format that started the show. He saved his biggest hits for last, kicking off the segment with “Why Georgia.” Mayer said, “I don’t want to be all George Lucas about it, but I’d like to fix it because my voice was grainy,” referring to his original recording of “If I Ever Get Around to Living.” The live remaster was pure silk, and he later joked, “Come back to me...that was a song for me, now one for you” as he launched into crowd favorite, “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.” The band left the stage but returned for an encore to a starry, cellphone-lighted atmosphere that inspired them to finish with “Gravity.”
Mayer returned alone for Chapter 5: Epilogue, performing “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me” on a white grand piano to close the night. The effective stage production and well-defined chapters made for a perfect evening of music that fulfilled all expectations. It was quite apparent that Mayer enjoyed sharing his talents as much as his legion of fans did soaking it in.