John Mayer finds renewed desire to perform as a headliner

When John Mayer toured with the Dead & Company band, he lost some motivation to solely perform his songs as a concert tour headliner

When John Mayer toured with the Dead & Company band, he lost some motivation to solely perform his songs as a concert tour headliner.

Mayer grew more satisfied with blending in than standing out.

“It was awfully cozy to play in Dead & Company, because I’m not in the center of the stage,” recalled Mayer, who toured with former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann. “I have really grown to love that vantage point to musically make those contributions from that place. I wasn’t sure about whether I was going to find that love for it again and then like song three I was like ‘OK, this is not ever going away.’”

The Grammy winner thought he had lost his performing mojo and questioned whether he would ever insert himself back onto the centerstage “cockpit,” until one day he stepped behind a microphone and sang a few of his songs.

With his newfound inspiration, Mayer has hit the road to deliver music from his eighth studio album “Sob Rock,” released last year. He’s currently on the second leg of his concert tour that touched down in Los Angeles this week and will venture into other cities including San Francisco, Atlanta, Denver, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston and Chicago.

Mayer said regaining his confidence to perform solo was like learning how to ride a bike. The singer said he started to miss the feeling of singing his songs in front of a crowd, but finding his own flow wasn’t an easy task — especially after not hitting the stage for much of the pandemic.

“It’s not a natural thing to stand on stage in front of a bunch of people. You don’t think that way when you’re at home for two years,” he said in a recent interview. “I was at home for two years washing dishes, looking at my hands going ‘Well, these hands from time to time played the guitar in front of 17,000 people a night.’ I think the one thing that drains out of a performer is just the sense memory of performing.”

Last month, Mayer got his first taste back onstage as a headliner for the SiriusXM and Pandora’s Small Stage Series. He jammed with his guitar in front of a packed crowd in Los Angeles that included Heidi Klum and Vanessa Hudgens.

The concert was going smoothly until Mayer stopped the show after he noticed that a woman in the crowd had lost consciousness. He calmly paused the music, asked about the woman’s wellbeing, and stepped off stage before the woman was safely escorted out in a wheelchair. He ultimately returned to the stage to finish the show.

On social media, many praised Mayer for how he handled the situation. The singer said he’s become very conscious of concertgoers’ safety especially after the tragedy at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival in Houston last year that killed 10 people after a crowd surge.

“I think people are ultra-sensitive right now about taking care of each other and should be, given the fact that people witnessed a tragedy in those regards,” he said. “So I understand the sensitivity of wanting to stop the show. As soon as people raise the alarm and eight pairs of hands go up and start pointing to someone to stop the show, you have to stop it.”

During that same show and tour, Mayer played his memorable hits like “Waiting on the World to Change” and “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room,” along with his latest tracks from “Sob Rock,” calling it timeless music.

He says he's not worried about performing his latest album, which was released several months before his first tour date.

“The music I make is not meant to be loved and consumed only this year,” he said. “I don’t flip out about the timeline of things because I’m already making a record that sounds like I can wait another 20 years to play ‘Sob Rock.’ I’m always trying to make music with longevity.”

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