By Jenna Shulman
As soon as John Mayer sauntered onto the stage at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey on Tuesday night (August 3), fans like myself knew we were in for a treat. He walked out wearing a blue flannel button-up with pants that didn’t quite make it to the floor. Additionally, he was wearing a headband in his shaggy hair and flaunting white sneakers. His unconventional appearance could only mean one thing: This was going to be an unconventional show.
And indeed it was. Mayer opened up the set with “Bigger Than My Body,” the first single from his 2003 album Heavier Things. He followed with two deep cuts from his back catalog: “No Such Thing” and “Clarity.” Every last seat and lawn area at the venue was filled, which clearly pleased and empowered Mayer. “All you lawn people and seat people should get to know each other and be one big happy family,” he told the crowd, which began an excellent evening of extra-musical commentary from the 32-year-old rocker.
The Connecticut-raised musician who now resides in New York City certainly felt a bit at home performing in the Garden State. He even shouted out “East f—ing coast all the way!” and commented on his love and affection for the Tri-State area. Just as he does on his extremely popular Twitter page, Mayer pulled no punches and conversed easily in between tunes.
The highlights came when Mayer threw in some variations on his songs. He did a lot of jamming and kept the beginning of his songs different than how they sound on the albums. It kept the crowd anxious and full of anticipation throughout the set. The mysterious song beginnings definitely fired up the crowd and constantly left everyone wanting more.
In addition to his incredible guitar skills, Mayer proved adept at a number of other instruments, including ukulele and harmonica. His excellent band provided solid grooves over which Mayer laid down some serious guitar solos. At one point during his Battle Studies hit “Gravity,” he even set his guitar on the ground and played it like a keyboard.
Because of the warm weather and perfectly clear night, it was only appropriate he make a claim to the wonderful summer season. Near the end of the show, he asked, “Do you believe its still summer?” and turned that question into a cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” (with a guest spot by Train singer Pat Monahan, who opened for Mayer).
“I love this crowd and I don’t say that about every show,” he told the still-enthralled audience as the performance wound down. “There must be something different about this crowd.” Right before he performed his encore of his new song “Edge of Desire,” he told the audience, “I love each and every one of you. It’s pretty good to say you’re a John Mayer fan.” Based on the warm reception he received, he wasn’t wrong.
“Did you all have a good time?” he wondered before exiting. As if he needed to ask.