The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

John Mayer brought ‘Wonderland’ to Bridgestone

From whistling, guitar, harmonica and live mixing, who needs a band when you have John Mayer “SOLO.”
Connie Chen
John Mayer plays his acoustic guitar at Bridgestone Arena, as photographed on March 24, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Connie Chen)

One of the most recent playlists in my Spotify account is dedicated entirely to John Mayer. After listening to an interview where he talked about his anxiety and how his music helps him process it, I jumped at the opportunity to watch his sold-out show at Bridgestone. Named the “SOLO” tour, the stage was set with just a mic stand, chair and piano with a rotating assortment of guitars as promised by the tour name. The lighting was simple and allowed the star of the show to be Mayer’s incredible talent as he mixed songs and played instruments (sometimes simultaneously).


Joy Oladokun opens the “SOLO” tour, as photographed on March 24, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Connie Chen)
Joy Oladokun opens the “SOLO” tour, as photographed on March 24, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Connie Chen)
(Connie Chen)

Joy Oladokun opened for Mayer on March 24 which was her first time on the “SOLO” tour. She too was on stage alone with her guitar as she shared with the audience about her experiences as a young, queer child of Nigerian immigrants growing up in a small town in Arizona. She has written music that speaks to not only that inner child but to the growth she has experienced since leaving Arizona for Music City.


My favorite song she played, “Look Up,” was inspired by her time in Malibu where she wondered what it was like to be attractive and respected like those around her. Her gratitude to the audience for skipping their dinner to come early and listen to her play was apparent as she laughed at herself many times and thanked the crowd for listening.

From the moment the lights dimmed for Mayer to come on stage, the crowd rose and never sat down. His simple olive shirt and blue jeans fit his laid-back set as he sat in a simple upholstered chair. He appeared as a silhouette for his first song of the night “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.” The crowd screamed lyrics along and as the lights illuminated Mayer and his guitar for the second song “Shouldn’t Matter but It Does,” they cheered recognizing the chord progression as each song started. After “Heartbreak Warfare” Mayer stopped to thank the crowd for coming and acknowledged the many singer-songwriters in the crowd. He promised to cater his setlist to their knowledge and appreciation of music and followed this up with an incredible guitar solo during “Neon.”

After “Emoji of a Wave,” Mayer took inspiration from signs of fans in the audience to create a live melody of requests. The medley which included Mayer playing harmonica between choruses and mid-transition from song to song catered to requests for Mayer’s “Something Like Olivia,” “My Stupid Mouth” and, my favorite song, “Daughters.” He was humble and grateful when interacting with his fans — it was clear every sign and scream from the crowd was appreciated. 

After remembering a story from Dave Chappelle when he learned artists can make up crowd behaviors and signs to direct where a live show goes, Mayer claimed to see a sign asking for an unreleased song that would throw off the momentum of the show and acquiesced. The new song often used the word “drifting” and told a beautiful story of meeting strangers and sharing music. My favorite lyric was “Put my leather jacket on to play the part of bad boy John.”

Mayer then moved toward the back of the stage to sit at the piano. He launched into the iconic chords of another one of my favorite songs, “New Light,” but he only sang a verse and chorus before whistling his way into “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me.” Mayer’s performance on the piano was as mesmerizing as his skills on the guitar. But he really dazzled as he played “Changing” and not only mixed piano and guitar live on stage but then proceeded to play the two instruments simultaneously. His left hand plucked out notes on his electric guitar and his right played alongside with clear piano notes. The audience was wrapt. 

After leaving the piano, Mayer broke the rule of his solo tour to invite a “superstar” and “legend,” Sheryl Crow, on stage. 

“Who has the nerve to play guitar with John Mayer,” Crow remarked as she started to play alongside him. 

The two covered “Strong Enough” harmonizing and playing off of each other only as two masters of the craft can. There was a clear connection between the two as they sang.

As the show wrapped up, Mayer sat back down and told a brief story. He introduced a song that had many lives that he first wrote at age 21 very sweetly and sincerely, that he loved at the moment and even more as it became a hit, that he then questioned as he grew older as to what its meaning was, that he now played for us sweetly with no irony (even the lyric about a bubblegum tongue) — “Your Body is Wonderland.”

Mayer closed the show with his double-neck acoustic guitar. He easily switched between necks playing “If I Ever Get Around to Living.” His joy in his music was so palpable. Moving onto his final song of the show Mayer once again mixed his music live. One neck had notes looping in the background, setting the tone for “Edge of Desire.” Mayer knew it was a special night in Bridgestone Arena and thanked the crowd profusely as he had all night for listening and singing along before walking off stage. 

The crowd only got louder after Mayer left the stage demanding he come back for more of the raw and honest and soulful pop music he had played all night long. The fans around me buzzed wondering which final songs he would squeeze into a full setlist. As 2005 John Mayer had hoped for, he had plenty of hits to choose from on this tour. 

Mayer reemerged with his harmonica to play “Born and Raised” followed by a cover of “Free Fallin’.” Mayer’s talent and soul searching voice will continue to live in the minds of every fan in the crowd. Those who came in knowing every song from the last two decades and those with new found appreciation for his best hits will remember his incredible solitary night of magical music.

The crowd sang every word up until Mayer thanked the crowd a final time. As he left the stage he said one final line.

“I have always been and will continue to be, John Mayer.”

View comments (1)
About the Contributors
Barrie Barto
Barrie Barto, Editor-in-Chief
Barrie Barto ('25) is majoring in medicine, health & society with neuroscience and communication of science & technology minors in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Photography Director. When she's not strolling around campus with her camera, you can find Barrie cheering on the St. Louis Blues or tracking down the best gluten-free food in Nashville. She can be reached at [email protected].
Connie Chen
Connie Chen, Former Staff Photographer
Connie Chen ('24) is from St. Louis, studying economics in the College of Arts and Science with minors in business and computer science. When she isn’t taking photos, you can find her exploring Nashville’s restaurants, journaling or examining the stock market. She can be reached at .
More to Discover

Comments (1)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
All The Vanderbilt Hustler picks Reader picks Sort: Newest
Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tara Broms
1 year ago

What a beautifully worded tribute! Endlessly proud of you, Miss Barrie Barto 😉