For his First Annual Holiday Charity Revue Saturday night in Los Angeles, John Mayer brought together the three phases of his career -- the solo acoustic work, the blues-rock John Mayer Trio, and his current touring band -- into one night. Mayer devoted one set to each format, quipping, "It's a real honor to be opening for myself," as he began the acoustic set. "I ran into myself backstage and I was very nice -- and, I mean, I'm huge!"
Mayer began with an acoustic version of the funky "Neon," off his major-label debut Room for Squares. The half-hour set's other high points were gorgeous versions of the rarely played "In Your Atmosphere" and a cover of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" (which he had also performed at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit in October) with the two guitarists from Mayer's touring band. But it was clear from the moment that the John Mayer Trio stepped onstage that their performance, already the most anticipated of the night, would go down as the highlight.
Looking dapper in matching black suits and skinny black ties, Mayer, Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino tore through an electric 55-minute set of covers ("Every Day I Have the Blues," "Wait Until Tomorrow," "Bold As Love"), originals ("Who Did You Think I Was," "Out of My Mind," "Come When I Call") and tracks from Mayer's Continuum that originated on the trio's 2005-2006 tour ("Vultures," "Good Love is On the Way"). Mayer seemed thrilled and completely at ease, and addressed the recent spike in his tabloid appearances, telling the audience "My problem is not that my hair isn't done or that I'm on video late at night and not walking straight. The reason it bugs me is that it messes with my message of playing guitar and being creative, and my message of being grateful to all of you in this room."
Mayer closed out the night in his current mode -- blending his acoustic and blues-rock sides with support from a seven-piece band. The set list was a tour through Mayer's singles ("Bigger Than My Body," "Why Georgia," "No Such Thing"), and Continuum tracks ("Waiting on the World to Change," "Heart of Life"). His guitar work shone on the poignant "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room," as well as his unofficial 2007 anthem, "Gravity," and Mayer slipped back into the Trio funk for a rendition of Ray Charles' "I Don't Need No Doctor." When the band returned for an encore, it was as a ten-person superjam with two bassists (Palladino and Mayer's touring bassist, David LaBruyere) and drummers (Jordan and touring drummer J.J. Johnson) for the groovier Continuum cuts, "Belief" and "I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)," and fitting closer "I'm Gonna Find Another You."
Though Mayer had played for nearly three hours, it seemed the audience -- which included Paramore, Fergie and Josh Duhamel, Mayer's Best Week Ever pal Sherrod Small, Penelope Cruz, and Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher -- could have seen him go on for another three. And with plans to release the show on DVD next year, it looks like they may get the chance.
"Stop This Train"
"In Your Atmosphere"
"Daughters" (with Robbie McIntosh)
"Free Fallin'" (with Robbie McIntosh and David Ryan Harris)
[JOHN MAYER TRIO]
"Every Day I Have the Blues"
"Wait Until Tomorrow"
"Who Did You Think I Was"
"Come When I Call"
"Out of My Mind"
"Bold As Love"
[WITH CURRENT TOURING BAND]
"Waiting on the World to Change"
"No Such Thing"
"Bigger Than My Body"
"Slow Dancing in a Burning Room"
"Heart of Life"
"I Don't Need No Doctor"
"I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)" (with Pino Palladino)
"Belief" (with Pino Palladino and Steve Jordan)
"I'm Gonna Find Another You" (with Pino Palladino and Steve Jordan)