Concert Reviews Features

John Mayer Grows His Country Roots At ‘Live On Letterman’

(credit: Heather Wines/CBS)
(credit: Heather Wines/CBS)

I’ve been lucky to cover many Live On Letterman performances over the years, both for this blog and other outlets. I’ll never forget sitting second row while watching Adele sing the poignant track “Someone Like You” and getting goosebumps on my arms during her powerful performance, or seeing my favorite Jersey boys Gaslight Anthem rock the stage with some of my former college newspaper colleagues (who also became some of my best friends). It’s these shows that I’ve been able to see some of my favorite artists up-close and in a setting like no other.

Last night was one of those nights. I highly doubt I’ll ever get to stand sidestage for a John Mayer concert ever again so you bet I cherished every minute of his set! If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time over the past five years you know my love for Mayer and to be able to experience him live in concert is always an enjoyable time. Below is an excerpt of my review for Read the complete review here.

On the eve of the release of his new album, Paradise Valley, it was clear John Mayer was heading in a new direction. He no longer donned that wide-brimmed hat but instead embraced a headscarf. Questionable headwear choice maybe, but his fashion never outshines his music and besides a few thank you’s and a brief explanation of his new song “Dear Marie,” it was his music that was the main attraction.

“It’s weird to have a technology reference in a song. Everyone goes looking online for their first love . . . to see what they look like now,” he said of the new track. “We still look back and that’s what this song is about.”

Watch archived video from John Mayer’s Live on Letterman performance

Mayer headed to the Ed Sullivan Theater Monday night (Aug. 19) for a 70-minute Live on Letterman performance of material old and new. As he walked onto the famous stage in his blue jeans and peace-signed blue jacket, fans were greeted by the familiar chords of “Queen of California,” the opening track to his last release, 2012’s Born and Raised.

While he played several tracks off the new album, several songs from Born and Raised, Continuum fan favorite “Slow Dancing In a Burning Room” also appeared in the set. Having to cancel his 2012 Born and Raised Tour after being put on mandatory vocal rest due to granulomas in his throat, this was the first time many in attendance heard the songs live. Tracks like the bluesy “Something Like Olivia” showed off Mayer as a guitar virtuoso while “The Age of Worry,” also off Born and Raised, showcased the more country-leaning side of the singer with pedal steel and mandolin features.

Concert Reviews Videos

Ryan Adams Performs Intimate Set 'Live On Letterman'

Not a man of many words, Ryan Adams performed with little more than a thank you for the majority of his 70-minute set last night. But, when he did address the audience halfway through the performance, he proved just how funny he truly is.

Shortly after 8 p.m., what appeared to be Adams dressed in a dog costume, walked down the aisle of Ed Sullivan Theater. Minutes later, the real Adams walked onstage and picked up his guitar and harmonica. No doubt comedic effect, the moment was soon forgotten as Adams took his place center stage.

Holding the audience in the palm of his hand, the room went silent as his whispered vocals, wavering harmonica parts and delicately strummed guitar reverberated throughout the room. Guitar centric tracks like opening number “Oh My Sweet Carolina” and “Lucky Now” from recent release, Ashes and Fire impressed. All the while, Adams continued to showcase his talent on a number of piano-centric tracks including fan favorite “New York, New York.”

Watch Adams’ complete performance below.

Concert Reviews

Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs Perform "Live On Letterman"

It’s been just over two years since I witnessed Ray Lamontagne in concert for the first time. After seeing him earlier this month, it is evident that he continues to be a force to see live. On May 11 he shyly walked onto the Letterman stage clad in a jean jacket, jeans and flannel shirt before he kicked things off with the soulful “Repo Man.” With a driving percussion and guitar interlude towards the end of the song, the band impressed.

Not one of many words, there was little onstage banter with the audience throughout the show besides the occasional “Thank you.” Before he began “New York City’s Killing Me,” he whispered into the microphone, “Take a deep breath” to which the room laughed. A slower, more somber track, LaMontagne’s soft vocals accompanied by the band’s soothing rhythms while wavering pedal steel gave the track a rustic, country feel.

The remainder of his set included many tracks off the band’s latest release, God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise as well as some older fan favorites. While “Beg Steal or Borrow” and “This Love Is Over” continued the slow pace, it was on encore number “Henry Nearly Killed Me (It’s a Shame)” that LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs wowed the audience. With a rollicking beat, foot stomping and soaring harmonica, the track had the entire audience on their feet and clapping along.

Watch the complete performance below and for more, visit their Web site.

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Concert Reviews

Adele Performs Tracks Off New Album “Live On Letterman”

Photo Credit: John Filo of CBS

On the eve of her record release, UK sensation Adele performed  for lucky audience members at Ed Sullivan Theater Monday night. Part of the “Live on Letterman” broadcast, the show aired live on A comedian in her own right, Adele walked to the stage shortly after 9PM, surprised she made it without a fall.

“I was convinced I was going to drop on my face then. I’m trying to learn how to wear high heels. This was a steep floor,” she said. “Thank you very much for coming and braving the cold,” she continued before she performed her first track of the evening.

Clad in black from head to toe, Adele sat on her stool most of the night. With impassioned vocals and soaring piano and guitar accompaniment, she captivated the theater. “I hope you don’t mind me sitting down, it’s just that I knew you’d be sitting down and like I said, I’m practicing. I look better sitting in heels than I do standing in them,” she said.

An impressive mix of old and new songs along with two powerful covers — a stripped down performance of The Cure’s “Love Song” followed by Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” — Adele’s soulful vocals and comedic onstage banter impressed.

The soulful Brit showcased her versatility throughout the night. In fact, the country-infused “Don’t You Remember,” off 21, was inspired by Lady Antebellum’s latest release, Need You Now.

“That was the last song I wrote for the new record. I was in Malibu and Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now was everywhere.  I love Need You Now and then I got into early Dolly Parton stuff. She was a bit goth back in the day, wasn’t she? Yeah, a bit dark. It’s got quite an Americana sound to it and it’s one of my favorites.”

The remainder of her set included old fan favorites like hit single, “Chasing Pavements” as well as her first UK No. 1 single, the emotional “Someone Like You.” Soft piano helped accentuate the track and Adele even got choked up while she sang.

“I almost stopped singing at the wrong place, could you tell?” she asked the audience. “My heart was in my throat.”

Before she played the energetic set closer “Rolling In the Deep,” she told the crowd she was going to switch things up. “I’m going to play you an upbeat song. I don’t have many, but I come alive when I do. I’m going to stand up – ah!”

The song demonstrated her soulful side as the audience and band clapped along while Adele and her backup singers worked their vocal magic to finished the set. An adequate preview to her upcoming release, the 45-minute performance further convinced concertgoers of the UK singer’s talent and no doubt resulted in a purchase of her sophomore release the next day.

To watch the complete performance, visit or see the video below.

Concert Reviews

Rascal Flatts Debut New Album 'Live on Letterman'

Photo Credit: John Filo of CBS

Rascal Flatts had the Ed Sullivan Theater audience on its feet for the entirety of their 45-minute set Monday night, November 15, for ‘Live on Letterman,’ a concert series run by the ‘The Late Show With David Letterman’ crew. Frequently making jokes with each other and fans, the playful trio’s humorous vibe carried throughout their performance.

In New York promoting the release of ‘Nothing Like This,’ the Flatts took requests and even dedicated a track from their LP to a newly engaged couple in the audience. But most of the banter, whether joking or not, was aimed at reminding fans of their new album’s release. “Make sure you pick up a copy or 12 tomorrow. They make great stocking stuffers,” bassist Jay DeMarcus said of the new disc, which hits stores today (November 16).

With the album being Rascal Flatts’ first release on Big Machine Records, lead singer Gary LeVox joked that label president Scott Borchetta needed permission from Taylor Swift to sign them.”We said, ‘Scott, we’d love to be on Big Machine Records,’ and he said, ‘Hold on a minute, I need to call Taylor Swift and see if she’s OK with that.'”

For my complete review, visit The Boot. Watch Rascal Flatts perform “Life Is a Highway” below.

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Brad Paisley Performs ‘Live on Letterman’
Concert Reviews

Brad Paisley Performs 'Live on Letterman'

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Staab of CBS

Brad Paisley performed an hour-long set for lucky New Yorkers earlier this month at the Ed Sullivan Theater. For those not in the Big Apple, the concert was streamed live for CBS Interactive Music Group’s ‘Live on Letterman’ webcast, allowing fans to watch the set in its entirety on

Moments before he took the stage, Brad tweeted, “About to go on here at the Ed Sullivan theater. Like the Beatles. Sorta.”

Though he’s in Manhattan for the next few days promoting his new greatest hits compilation, ‘Hits Alive,’ Brad never feels too far from home. “On the way in here, when we were coming in from the airport, we were in an SUV. Low and behold, somewhere right after we got out of the tunnel, we hit this little patch of mud. I don’t know where in the hell that came from. It wasn’t quite big enough to have much fun with with your truck, but it made me miss home,” Brad said before singing his huge hit, ‘Mud On the Tires.’

For my complete review visit The Boot. Watch Brad perform “Then” below.