Two days ago, John Mayer kicked off his first-ever solo arena tour of North America, marking a significant step forward into previously unexplored territory for the ever-evolving musician and performer.
Just a few days prior to that, though, the Sob Rock star took the opportunity to revisit some more familiar waters, linking up with Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino at the seventh annual Love Rocks Benefit Concert for the first John Mayer Trio gig in six years.
However, not only did Mayer reunite with his two close collaborators – the same that recorded Mayer’s 2005 Try! live album – he also doubled down on the blues trio sound by digging through his collection of electric guitars and pulling out his famed Fender Monterey Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster.
Seeing Mayer wield a Fender Strat truly was a blast from the past, but before he took up position behind the Hendrix Custom Shop model, Mayer took his PRS Silver Sky for a two-song spin, which showed the evolution of his tone in the process.
Given that the last time the song got a run-out Mayer was still a Strat player, hearing the chunky Hendrixian riffs emanating from the Silver Sky’s fretboard made for interesting listening.
The lows were thicker, and packed more of a low-end punch than some of his other live Who Did You Think I Was performances, though the Silver Sky retained a crystalline clarity when the scale licks and open-string strums came around in the high-end.
Now, that’s probably a testament to the PRS's precise engineering and tonal capacity, but Mayer makes his signature six-string sing in such a way to highlight these nuances. Plus, as has been the case since Sob Rock’s release, Mayer’s solo tones here are as good as they’ve ever been, thanks to those tightly compressed gain tones.
It’s the same story for the set's second song, Vultures, though since the Continuum track has been a mainstay of Mayer’s live setlist for numerous tours since its release, it comes as no surprise that the Silver Sky once again excels for the snappy single-coil riff.
The biggest surprise of the event, though, occurred when Mayer and co prepped for a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Wait Until Tomorrow, for which the Silver Sky loyalist defected briefly back to the Strat ranks.
Sightings of Mayer playing a Strat have become almost non-existent over the past three years, but his lack of playing time has seemingly done nothing to dampen the connection he has with the famed Fender double-cut, rolling back the years for a none-more-Continuum tone typified by its fourth-position single-coil strums.
One of the last times Mayer used a Fender Stratocaster during a similarly high-profile event occurred during the Sob Rock tour, when he used Cory Wong’s then-new signature model for a performance of Still Feel Like Your Man.
Mayer’s solo arena tour continues this evening (March 13) in Boston, and we imagine it will mark a swift return to the Silver Sky from then onwards.