John Mayer debuts live rendition of Wild Blue on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert

John Mayer performing live on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
(Image credit: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert)

After debuting Last Train Home earlier this year on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, John Mayer has returned to the late-night chat show scene for another first-ever live performance, this time performing Wild Blue on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The track is taken from the blues guitar ace's most recent album Sob Rock – his eighth studio effort – which was released in July this year. And, in keeping with the throwback tonal aesthetic the record is noted for, the live version of Wild Blue features a suitably silky instrumentation and arrangement.

However, unlike the studio version – which mostly features some very tame soloing – Mayer embraces the intimate live setting and absolutely goes to town, launching head-first into a series of extended solo sections that sees him squeeze out every drop of tone from his PRS Silver Sky and rig – which comprises a Two-Rock and a Dumble.

It is a significant deviation from the studio version of the track, which Mayer recently revealed was recorded using a Fractal Axe-Fx. A further deviation is the absence of his over-ear headphone studio monitors, which he’s become accustomed to during his Dead & Company dates.

Beginning with a Mark Knopfler-esque clean passage conjured up while Mayer's locked into the fourth position, the blues guitar ace then gradually progresses his playing, making greater use of his signature, super-thick tone, which plays host to the show-stopping solo.

Of course, the tone and feel is second-to-none, though that’s entirely down to Mayer’s touch as opposed to the boutique gear he’s flanked by. In case you need convincing, the Continuum mastermind recently took an Epiphone Les Paul and Roland combo for a spin, and it sounded exactly like, well, Mayer.

Speaking to Guitar World, Mayer revealed that the Wild Blue solo you hear on the record is “actually the take from the first time we really played the song”, and that it was the “only song that I brought in while we were making Sob Rock”.

”I had nine songs and this was the 10th, and it came out in the middle of a session for something else," he reflected. "And that’s the take. I didn’t have a guitar pick so I decided to just fingerpick it. And I think it’s through the Fractal, actually. It’s like the 'Studio Clean' setting or something like that." 

It’s Mayer’s second trip to the Colbert studios this year, after he previously joined JP Saxe for a live rendition of his track Here's Hopin', which he equipped with some exceptional, true-to-form embellishments.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.