John Mayer Cuts Deep at Toyota Center

With his soothing voice and inspired guitar, John Mayer provided an emotional therapy session to a full arena at Toyota Center on Saturday evening.
With his soothing voice and inspired guitar, John Mayer provided an emotional therapy session to a full arena at Toyota Center on Saturday evening. Photo by Violeta Alvarez

John Mayer
Sob Rock Tour
Toyota Center
April 23, 2022

Attending a John Mayer concert is akin to going to therapy. You might begin the session fairly relaxed, but three songs in you're on the verge of tears, tempted to text your ex, reminiscing about that time on the beach in Mexico where the sunset warmed your body and margaritas flowed freely. After the tenth song, you proceed to block that same ex on Instagram, and remind yourself that you're a strong, independent woman who don't need no man to make her happy!

It's called growth, honey... look it up!

The show at Toyota Center on Saturday evening definitely inspired a large range of emotions, with Mayer and his band providing a smooth mix of selections from 2021's Sob Rock album to his classic fan favorites like "Gravity," "Your Body Is A Wonderland" and "Slow Dancing In A Burning Room."
click to enlarge
John Mayer and his supremely talented band perform during the Sob Rock Tour at Toyota Center in Downtown Houston, Texas.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
The night began with "Last Train Home", the first track from the new album. "If you wanna roll me, then you gotta roll me all night long" sings Mayer as the crowd cheers on. "And if you wanna use me, then you gotta use me 'til I'm gone!" He then proceeds to masterfully pluck the notes from his electric guitar as if it was Excalibur and he is King Arthur. He makes love to his instrument, using his voice as foreplay and his lyrics as aftercare.

The stage was as beautiful as the music, bathed in colorful yet muted tones of indigo, violet, crimson, and daisy. The large LED screen shifted between Mayer's face, his guitar, and his backup singers, harmonizing vocals and moods with each passing track on the set list. Another set of LED panels hovered high above the stage, providing colorful accents like a rainbow of emotions.

click to enlarge
The stage design provided an array of colors to complement the range of emotions that John Mayer induces during his live shows.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
The opening act of the night was rounded out with "Shot In The Dark," "Queen Of California" and one of my personal favorites, "Who Says." Mayer received loud praise when he substituted "Houston" for "Austin" in the song lyrics.

Mayer was actually the first artist to perform at The Moody Center, the newest venue in Austin that is replacing the storied Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center on the campus of the University of Texas.

The second act of the show was an stripped down, acoustic trio of songs that began with "Neon" and followed into "Shouldn't Matter, But It Does." The crowd reacted with praise on the third song, which was a cover of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'." The whole building served as Mayer's backing choir, shining their cell phone flashlights, arms waving back and forth, illuminating the venue with the glow.

"This next here song is what the kids call 'a vibe'" joked Meyer as he offered up "Wild Blue." He thanked the crowd for welcoming the new songs and allowing them to be a new member of his musical family.
click to enlarge
The stage design was dreamy, ranging from sunrises, sunsets, moonscapes, and nebula galaxies, with all of the colors in between.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
When he transitioned from "Wonderland" into "Stop This Train," he acknowledged this musical variety. "In a show of evolution and growth, this is also my song" he declared. "It's so much different from the last one!"

Mayer portrays a large range of styles, from rock to R&B, jazz to pop, blues to Americana. His visuals also provided a mix of moonscapes, nebulas, sunrises and sunsets, with a few rays of neons in between.

"This is my favorite part of the show, will you please sing it with me" Mayer pleaded as he introduced the first few notes of "Gravity." The crowd was happy to oblige.

As I've written previously about this very track, it might not be his best, but damn does it ever stir up the memories. The song should be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame or The Smithsonian, its just to gosh darn excellent.

The night ended with a one song encore, which was "New Light," the first single from Sob Rock. Its a quintessential John Mayer song... dreamy, smooth, and full of full of loving requests from an admirer to his love.

"'Cause if you gimme just one night, you're gonna see me in a new light!"

Dammit John! There I go unblocking my ex again!
click to enlarge
John Mayer and his guitar provide a mix of emotions, musical dexterity, and overall good times.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Houston Press contributor Marco both writes and points his camera lens toward the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond.