John Mayer opens ‘Sob Rock’ tour at MVP Arena after New York lifts mask mandate

ALBANY, N.Y.- John Mayer has performed the first maskless concert at the MVP Arena since the pandemic began, with New York discontinuing the statewide mask mandate for businesses a week beforehand.

Mayer began his “Sob Rock” tour in Albany on Feb. 17, as he has for his last three tours, seven days after New York state officially lifted the indoor mask mandate for businesses.

“I flew up from Florida just for Mayer shows,” said Joel Shover, who attended the show. “I’ve been seeing shows at The Knick (MVP Arena) for years since the Grateful Dead.”

The venue itself did not require concertgoers to show any type of vaccine card or wear a mask while inside the arena. The doors opened at 7:30 p.m., and the opening act, Alexander 23, left the stage around 8:20 p.m.

Mason Laboski, a guitarist for two bands, Impact and Bloodline, was among several musicians in attendance.

“The overall experience was great!” he said. “It was one of my favorite shows by far.”

Despite the lifting of the mask mandate, a large number of attendees were wearing masks during the concert. However, most did not.

“I did not wear one, as I’m fully vaccinated, and had I worn one, I would have suffocated in the heat in that arena,” Shover said.

“I did not wear a mask,” Laboski said. “The vast majority of people I saw were not wearing one.”

The heat inside the venue was another large topic of conversation between fans at the show. The energy from the crowd generated much heat, but halfway through the show, it became a real concern, with most at floor level estimating the temperature to be over 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

“The heat was awful,” said Butler. “I was in the upper level, and it was so humid up there. Somebody a few rows down actually fainted from dehydration.”

“They must have sold a lot of t-shirts that night,” Shover said. “I even got one to change into, it was so hot.”

Some were left concerned about the lack of ventilation in the arena that was causing the feverish temperatures.

“COVID is still out there, and I think large indoor venues should still really be aware of that,” Butler said. “It doesn’t seem smart to me to not have fresh air blowing into a place that holds so many. I tried to wear a mask at first, but as the night went on, it got hotter and hotter. That’s something they need to improve on next time.”

Mayer, along with the other nine members of his band, appeared on stage at 9:00 p.m. to loud cheers from the crowd, and played 21 songs over a two-hour period, including several long solos that are not present on the album.

“Welcome… to the ‘Sob Rock’ era,” Mayer said after playing the first song of the evening, “Last Train Home.”

Another highlight of the show was the song “Shot in the Dark.”

“That song was definitely my favorite of the new ones,” said Emma Butler, another attendee. “I really enjoyed his solo on that one.”

The first half of the show was mostly made up of songs from the “Sob Rock” album, and the second half was made up of several popular hits from Mayer’s career.

Unfortunately for Mayer and his band, COVID has managed to interfere with the tour schedule. Three days after playing the Albany show, Mayer began a two-night appearance at Madison Square Garden.

Shover also attended both MSG shows and noticed that something was off about the performance.

“You could tell night one that the whole band was sluggish,” he said. “John kept rubbing his nose with his arm and drinking lots of fluids.”

Shortly before the second night, Mayer announced that his drummer and one of his backing singers had contracted COVID, but continued to push through, playing mostly stripped-down acoustic sets, and even got Questlove to play the drums for a few songs on short notice during the second night at MSG.

Three days later, Mayer announced via Instagram that he, as well as other band members, had tested positive for COVID, and that four shows would be rescheduled to May to give the band time to recover.

“We’ll give you everything we’ve got at these upcoming shows, just as soon as we rest up and regroup,” a portion of his post said.

The tour continued on March 11, and has proceeded without any more interruptions as of April 1.