The Susquehanna Bank Center opened its doors Aug. 23 to over 7,000 concertgoers. Adorned in flower crowns and questionably short skirts, the overwhelming number of teenage girls in attendance took their time finding their seats as “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips took the stage. Though Phillips put on a solid show — confidently covering rap hits such as Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” — it was clear that the crowd was there for John Mayer and John Mayer alone.
Mayer entered stage left at 8:50 p.m., wearing an outfit that was uniquely reminiscent of both 1960s-era musicians and 1900s-era ranchers. As he opened with “Queen of California,” the crowd went wild — a reaction that caused Mayer to grin sheepishly. When the song ended, the band fell seamlessly into the second song of the evening, “Wildfire,” a single off Mayer’s newly released album “Paradise Valley.” The song concluded with a brilliant guitar solo, an improvisational bit that led Mayer to scrunch his face in passionate concentration.
Mayer continued to wow the crowd with complex guitar solos throughout the night, covering Jerry Garcia’s “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” with impressive vigor. As the fast-paced chords faded out, Mayer made the intelligent choice to begin “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room,” a jazzy song that stood as a brilliant juxtaposition to the previous rock song.
While waiting for applause to die down, Mayer took a moment to address the crowd. In a heartfelt monologue, he explained how worried he had been that his fans would forget about him while he was recovering from his vocal woes. Though he was fully prepared to start all over again, he was pleasantly surprised with the overwhelming amount of support that he received upon his return. Mayer thanked his fans for this support and later thanked them again for giving him “the best job on Earth.” As if to say “thank you” yet again, he then launched into “Your Body is a Wonderland,” the undeniable highlight of the concert for many of the teenage girls in attendance.
Though the band had originally planned a transition into a cover of “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty, a front-row fan with a sign prompted Mayer to first play a few verses of “Comfortable,” a song off Mayer’s debut EP, “Inside Wants Out.” After Mayer had played enough of the song to cause his fans to burst into tears of happiness, the song evolved into the Petty cover.
In the songs that followed, the crowd was amazingly engaged, singing along to fan favorites such as “Waiting on the World to Change.” Mayer even returned to his blues roots in a rendition of “I Don’t Trust Myself with Loving You.” The version featured a slower melody, soulful bass solos, and a scat solo.
With the concert nearing a close, Mayer entered his favorite part of the show: three songs off the “Born and Raised” album, including the album’s title track. As he prepared to close out the night with “Gravity,” Mayer plucked an emoticon balloon from the audience and playfully asked the crowd to give him the “benefit of the dance.” He performed “I Will Be Found (Lost at Sea)” and “Vultures” during his encore.