JOHN MAYER, O2 Arena – Evening Standard, 12 May 2017


John Mayer brought all of his musical personalities to the O2 on the first of two shows here, the Connecticut guitarist’s only UK appearances on his current tour. Dividing his show into “chapters”, he played hits and new material with a seven-strong band, was solo and acoustic with just a wheeled-on Japanese bridge for company, and tackled the blues as a trio with drummer Steve Jordan and bassist Pino Palladino.

Personality was lacking, however, between songs. This sometime stand-up comedian made a crack about deep album track If I Ever Get Around to Living being an ideal “bathroom break song” but otherwise it was all grateful platitudes. It seems he’s learned to keep it zipped after a couple of controversial interviews in 2010 – in which he seemed to feel the need to compensate for his square soft rock by being as jagged a person as possible – and a period of being better known for his girlfriends than his songs. Taylor Swift wrote a song about what a bad boyfriend he was and Jennifer Aniston also fell victim.

Now he’s the humble, heartbroken one, with a new album, The Search for Everything, which seems largely to be about his break-up with Katy Perry. Emoji of a Wave was a prettily plucked sad one, suited to his lightly toasted voice.

His fingers danced effortlessly across his instrument, providing a year’s supply of guitar solos. He was most watchable when getting looser and louder as part of the trio, though the crowd reacted more enthusiastically to mild older songs such as Why Georgia.  There was an interesting man out there somewhere, somewhat stifled.