John Mayer

John Mayer Brings SOB Rock To Tampa

It’s Been 21 Years!

It’s been 21 years since a young John Mayer burst onto the pop music scene in 2001 with “Room for Squares”, and 2003’s “Heavier Things”.  Then in 2006, he released the Steve Jordan produced “Continuum” and that record blew John Mayer into the music stratosphere!  Grammy wins, critics love and it sold over 5 million copies.  It is on the Rolling Stone Top 500 albums of all-time.  In 2009, after the success of “Continuum” he released the more adult rock pop based “Battle Studies” and it was well-received.  In 2012, John changed styles again by releasing “Born & Raised”, being influenced by Dylan, Neil Young and folk music. Also in 2012, John had to have throat surgery and wasn’t sure he would sing again. Yet, he persevered with “Paradise Valley” in 2013, a continuation of sorts to “Born & Raised”. In 2015, John joined “Dead & Company”, which again changed his musical style by playing jam band classic songs with Weir & Company. 

The Search for Everything

His guitar prowess has become more powerful as the years go by.  He has played with many of the greats such as Clapton and BB King.   His break-up album “The Search for Everything”’ showed a personal side of Mayer. He once again has moved on to another musical style, which brings us to 2021’s “SOB Rock” written during the pandemic as an homage to the 80’s music he grew up with.

Mayer opened the Tampa show with the first release from SOB Rock, “Last Train Home”.  An upbeat, catchy pop tune and the Tampa audience were so ready for John to make his appearance! If the show wasn’t totally sold-out, it was close enough with people all the way to the rafters of the Amalie Arena. Another selection from “SOB Rock” with “Shot in the Dark” about bad romances. The first song of the “Continuum” album, “I Don’t Trust Myself” starts and the fans are screaming. He rolls right into “Belief” from the same record. The crowd was on their feet for the entirety of the show, taking seat breaks occasionally. No one wants to miss a solo; Mayer is one of his generation’s greatest guitarists! 

The Audience is Diverse in Age

The audience is diverse in age from the very young to the Dead crowd who have come to appreciate John’s guitar work.  Battle Studies is represented with the ditty, “Who Says”, a crowd pleaser and the pungent smell of pot in the air is noticeable.   Another tune from SOB Rock, “I Guess I Just Feel Like”, clearly talking about life not going so well in John’s world or for the rest of us for that matter with a guitar solo that brings a light of hope.

Midway through the show, John goes acoustic and the band leaves the stage. This gives John some personal time with the audience. One thing he has learned from Dead & Co. Is the changing up of setlists. He has over 20 years of material to work with for this set. In Tampa, “Emoji of a Wave” from “The Search for Everything”, and from 2008’s Live at the Nokia Theater, we were treated to the incredible “In Your Atmosphere” and then to top it off, John’s cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin”. John has been playing this for years and it is popular with Mayer diehard fans.

The band is back and what a band they are! These musicians have played with a who’s who of music from Toto to Tom Petty to Michael Jackson.  Steve Ferrone on drums, David Ryan Harris on guitar & vocals, Isaiah Sharkey also on guitar, Pino Palladino on bass, who has played with John since the Trio days. Jamie Muhoberac and Greg Phillinganes on keyboards, Lenny Castro on percussion. Tiffany Palmer and Carlos Ricketts work backround vocals and harmonies.

John acknowledged the song that “Put me on the map’ and played “Your Body is a Wonderland”.  More SOB Rock with “Wild Blue” a cool jam that brings textures and sounds of Toto and other 80’s bands.  A fun impromptu jam of the Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney hit “Say, Say, Say” with John trying to remember the lyrics and bantering with the band.   From Battle Studies, “Edge of Desire” is slow, haunting, sexy and one of his best from this album. Two tunes from “Born & Raised” period were on the setlist with “Something Like Olivia” and “If I Ever Get Around to Living”.

 David Ryan Harris pulls vocal duty on Prince’s, “The Beautiful Ones” as intro to one of the best breakup songs ever written, “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”! The audience is in full voice at this point.  Lighting and sound are on point from where we sat. Graphics were creative and simple, yet interesting at the same time. From SOB, “Till the Right One Comes” John laments about finding a life partner, a light and hopeful tune which morphs into Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” and has the crowd smilin’, dancin’ and singin’! The neon graphics include a tribute to John’s friend, the late Bob Saget.

The showstopper everyone has been waiting for, “Gravity” starts and as usual John plays a great solo and cell phones light up the Amalie. An amazing end of the show and of course the encore brings them back to finish the night with two songs from SOB, with John on acoustic guitar, “It Shouldn’t Matter but It Does” about the end of a relationship, one of the best tracks on SOB Rock. John signs off with the breezy “New Light”. The mix of his 20-year body of work makes for a great show!   Can’t wait to see what John Mayer will continue to bring as he continues to grow as a musician.

Vicky Sullivan Photos

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Amalie Arena, Born and Raised, Free Fallin, Grammy Wins, Gravity, John Mayer, SOB Rock, Tampa, Tom Petty, Vicky Sullivan

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