When today's large musical artists, with elaborate stage shows and video backgrounds that synchronize with the music, are getting ready for their tours, they have to find a place to work out the kinks before playing in front of sell-out crowds. Albany's MVP Arena seems to be just the place for one of the music industry's hottest artists. On Thursday, John Mayer kicked off his "Sob Rock" tour in downtown Albany. However, Mayer and his massive stage crew showed up four days early to get things right.

photo by Charlie Voelker
photo by Charlie Voelker
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According to Bob Belber, the General Manager of the MVP Arena, who talked about the "Sob Rock" tour on The Drive with Charlie & Dan last Friday, this was the third time in a row John Mayer kicked off his nationwide series of shows in New York's capital city. Belber said that each time, Mayer and his crew showed up days early to ensure that the stage show and the guitar virtuoso's sound is to his liking. Mayer and his other band, Dead & Company, comprised of 4 remaining members of the Grateful Dead, plus Jeff Chimenti and Oteil Burbridge, played their very first show together at the arena in 2015, after spending a few days there, getting audience ready.

photo by Charlie Voelker
photo by Charlie Voelker
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Thursday's show was outstanding. This was the third time my wife and I have seen John Mayer in concert with his band and another dozen times with Dead & Company. Each time we see him, it seems to get better and better. After Mayer delivered a blistering guitar solo during "I Guess I Just Feel Like", a song from his new "Sob Rock" album, my wife turned to me and said with a smile, "I think playing with the Grateful Dead (Dead & Company) has been good for him." I agreed and chuckled, "and he has been good for the Dead." I have a feeling that Mayer may agree with those statements.

photo by Charlie Voelker
photo by Charlie Voelker
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The platinum recording artist played for over two hours with his phenomenal 9-piece band. He delivered some spectacular versions of his greatest hits, like, according to Mayer himself, a first time, full band version of "Your Body Is A Wonderland", mixed in with his new 80's tribute "Sob Rock" repertoire. Mayer is pretty funny and engaged and acknowledged the Albany crowd throughout the night. He even had the lighting crew put a spotlight on a woman in the crowd dressed in 1980's attire, including a Sony Walkman attached to her belt! Look it up kids.

photo by Charlie Voelker
photo by Charlie Voelker
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I always laugh when music aficionados tell me that John Mayer isn't a "rock" artist. His guitar playing stacks right up the with the legends like Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Trust me, I've seen all 3 live multiple times and Mayer is right there. He just likes to write silly love songs. So, did Paul McCartney and he did OK. So, if you are a music fan and are inclined to take a road trip, don't miss this "Sob Rock" tour. If you only like shows close to home, you can probably bank on Mr. Mayer returning home to the MVP Arena and downtown Albany in the future. If you have any of your own feedback on the show, let me know on Instagram or Twitter @charlievoelker.

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