John Mayer finishes triumphant U.S. Tour at the height of his powers

Phil Akre

John Mayer hasn’t released a studio record since the critically-acclaimed “The Search For Everything” in early 2017. In the time since, it appears the 41-year-old has come to terms with his polarizing past, while he’s fully embraced the fans that have followed him for so long. 

His time off from Dead & Company, who he packed football stadiums with this past summer, marks the return of his recent material in a live setting. Mayer recently wrapped up the U.S. leg of his 2019 World Tour at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center, just days after a two-night run at Los Angeles’ Forum. 

Of course, the tour wasn’t without its welcomed surprises. On Sept. 16, at San Francisco’s brand-new Chase Center, Mayer welcomed Grateful Dead co-founder and Dead & Company bandmate Bob Weir, as well as Sammy Hagar. That’s quite the duo to have as sit-ins. The three jammed on Mayer’s “Queen of California” and rolled into the Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain.” 

During the intermission at the second show of a two-night run at Madison Square Garden in June, monitors projected a live broadcast of Mayer speaking directly to the audience. In it, he expressed his desire to play an album in its entirety at a show, something he had long sought to do. What he did next may as well have shaken the Garden to its core – he was to play straight through his 2006 commercial and critical breakthrough, “Continuum.” It was a notable instance of Mayer’s interaction with his audiences, something he’s done for years at his own shows.

Mayer’s U.S. run highlights his continued popularity and position within music and popular culture. He hasn’t released an album in over two years, yet he remains one of music’s true mainstays. Having 4.7 million Instagram followers doesn’t hurt, either. By his own admission via Instagram following the U.S. leg, this is his first-ever tour without a supporting album. You wouldn’t have thought that at shows held in iconic venues like the Garden, LA’s Forum and Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan. 

In the time between his U.S. run and Europe stretch this October, Mayer has stayed busy by jamming with Eric Clapton (who has called Mayer a “master guitarist”) and others at the Crossroads Festival. After the Europe run, he’ll again join Dead & Company for a series of shows, with stops at the Garden and Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum. 

So what’s next? He’s a rare star who seemingly has options at every corner. 2020 will mark the return of new studio material, informally announced via Mayer’s Instagram. What kind of album will fans hear? His sound has slowly transformed in the last three years, as the Dead’s long, melodic jams have invariably affected his own approach. “The Search For Everything” was a search for hope, light and the road ahead following a break-up. Mayer’s next album is an unpredictable entity, which makes for more anticipation from fans and critics alike. 

Mayer’s tour proved that he remains unapologetically himself and that he is at peace with the career he’s had to this point. He returned to his roots playing “Continuum” in full at MSG, an album that marked a new chapter and direction in his life. 

It feels like another chapter is just getting started.