John Mayer debuts Martin double-neck acoustic guitar and new song at first gig of US solo tour

John Mayer onstage in Newark on 11 March 2023
(Image credit: elysiumabovo / YouTube)

The first night of John Mayer's debut solo tour in Newark, New Jersey on 11 March is getting rave reviews and saw the songwriter exploring old favourites a deeper cuts with acoustic guitar and even piano looping. But the headline news for players is he broke out a uber expensive Martin custom double-neck guitar for the occasion at the Prudential Center.

And there it is for Edge Of Desire – a Tim Teel-built Martin Custom Shop 12-string / six-string combo first seen at NAMM in 2010. The former doesn't come in until the latter part of the song. Isn't there a pedal for that? Oh come on, he's John Mayer

Mayer also played a new song for the occasion – joking before he started it that "What if it was Why You Know Love Me?" as a reference to his slightly ridiculously track from last year's Sob Rock that he has no intention of playing live – "I'm never doing it!" he told the chanting crowd before (jokingly?) suggesting that he regrets recording the song to some degree. 

But as for the new one above; it's called Driftin', there's a capo on the second fret and it's Mayer showing how effective he can be with cowboy chords and a catchy melody. No Neon-style fingerpicking acrobatics here – think more Tom Petty Americana.

And on that note, he busted out his much-loved version of Petty's  Free Fallin' – on another Martin. And just to be clear, Mayer only plays Martin acoustics. 

Elsewhere, hardcore fans got a treat with the first live performance of Heavier Things track Home Life since 2005.

Split Screen Sadness from that same album got a rapturous reception too, paired with setlist familiar Why Georgia below. 

Mayer sat down at the piano in the next segment for a snippet of Sob Rock track New Light, The Search For Everything's You're Gonna Live Forever In Me and, most interestingly, a looped piano / guitar performance of that album's Changing…  

The outro to the song saw him pick up an an electric guitar for the first time (his PRS Silver Sky) to solo over the looped piano chords while sitting. It made for an unusual dynamic that the crowd loved – especially when Mayer started mixing piano and guitar simultaneously. What a show-off, eh! 

But what is very clear is Mayer's ability to make an arena feel intimate with his song catalogue and gifts as a musician. It mean he could get away with not playing the song Gravity and it didn't seem to matter. He chose to close the night in classic Americana troubadour style with acoustic guitar and harmonica for Born And Raised. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.