John Mayer at The O2, 18/03/24

It was Mayer-mania as the blues-pop maestro performed solo to the full-capacity London arena

“It’s one thing filling an arena”, says John Mayer from his piano, looking out at The O2 as the final chord of ‘You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me’ still fades. “But it’s another to fill an arena with silence.” It’s one of several aphorisms this evening that, like the broad career-spanning set that fills it, seems to show a man taking stock of lessons learnt after 25 years in the spotlight.

Interspersed between his songs are video snippets filmed around the release of 2001’s Room For Squares and 2006’s Continuum, where we see a fresh-faced, longer-haired Mayer beginning to navigate success and the growing expectations around him. “Maybe one day I’ll have a show that’s just hit after hit,” he says in one. Yeah, just maybe.

These musings are rooted in gratitude – for his fans, for his own songs – but veer at times between self-assurance and playfulness or flirtation or even just a goofiness that he seems to be afforded by the stripped-back aesthetic behind this solo tour. Who is he, after all, to deny what his people demand? In their tens of thousands this crowd of all ages want every part of Mayer, the true kind of mania reserved only for pop’s elite. “I love you John!” roars a young woman between songs. “So do I!” roars a man that may well be her partner.

The arena really is completely hushed halfway through the performance for this piano ballad, as his whistle softly flutters and his lullaby-like melody cascades. The silence is more stark given the uproar for the rest of the evening, the seated layout not stopping fans crying out during ripping acoustic guitar solos in ‘Queen Of California’, ‘Changing’ or ‘I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)’, or scream out their desperate requests like they’re in the last living jukebox.

Opting for the harmonic depth of the twelve-string for ‘Last Train Home’, and even showing off a double-neck for ‘Daughters’ and ‘Belief’, his standard acoustic sounds sparkling and brittle, giving every note the clarity it deserves. The sound-techs had a gift in support act Maddison Cunningham, though; with a full-bellied, Joni Mitchell-esque expressiveness and dextrous, unpredictable guitar playing, tonight the GRAMMY-winning Californian singer-songwriter seems well on her way to become a generational talent.

Mayer’s own playing prowess hardly needs reminding by this point, but what of these revelations gained along the line? It’s unclear exactly, maybe not even the point of this solo tour, except perhaps to wonder where he’ll be in another 25 years from now. “I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this song,” he says with a little wince before ‘Your Body Is A Wonderland’, “but now we’re on good terms” – it’s not for him, after all, but for his followers who are reeling at the mention of the song. Wherever Mayer may lead and whatever form his blues-pop takes, this lot will be there.

John Mayer performs his solo show at The O2, London, again on 19 March before shows in Glasgow and Dublin – limited tickets are available here

Photo credit: Michael Campanella/Redferns