Sunday, March 24, 2024

John Mayer @ Accor Arena, Paris - March 24th, 2024


At some point during the evening, probably after the second or third song, John Mayer pointed out that this was his first time playing Paris, a stunning realization when you consider that his career now spans more than twenty years. I guess I never realized how popular he was here: his performance at Accor Arena tonight was a monumental event, drawing in a capacity crowd of nearly 20,300 eager fans. The crowd was a socio-economically diverse cross-section of music fans: expats, middle-aged guitar aficionados and quite a large proportion of young people. As advertised on the posters, this was a solo performance, so people expecting electric guitar pyrotechnics and long bluesy SRV-style solos were in for a disappointment. But what he lacked in pentatonic heroics, he more than made up in heartfelt performance, his charismatic persona turning the soulless arena into an intimate venue. At times, it almost felt like he was playing to a small group of friends in his living room... If the living room was 55000 m².

Most of the set was acoustic, with occasional electric arrangements, and even a few songs played on piano. Mayer made intensive but discreet use of his sampling pedals to fill out the sound, virtually jamming with himself. The setlist was a fan's dream, as Mayer dug deep into his repertoire to play some old songs and deep cuts. The odd choice of using vintage interview footage as video interludes at several spots during the show threatened to kill the momentum a couple of times, but thankfully Mayer's earnest and engaging demeanor helped wash away those bizarre moments. The between-songs banter, honest, humorous and self-deprecating at times, helped strengthen the connection between the audience and the performer.

Mayer's virtuosity on the guitar both jaw-dropping, but never ostentatious, and the minimalist arrangements highlighted his emotive, singular voice. Nearly two hours after taking the stage, Mayer played Tom Petty's Free Fallin' before leaving the stage with the promise to return to the City of Lights very soon. In the Accor Arena, there were over 20 000 people that will hold him to that promise.

Experience or re-live the concert by playing the setlist in the embedded Apple Music player below
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