Even the concert itself is uniquely structured. Mayer essentially opens for himself -- twice, no less -- in this series of three separate sets. Where the Light Is opens with three solo acoustic numbers, with more guitarists joining Mayer on-stage for performances of "Daughters" and a low-key cover of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'". The second set features the reunion of the John Mayer Trio, a blues project backed by the rhythm section of legendary studio musicians Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino. This incendiary stretch of the show includes a couple of slower blues grooves like "Out of My Mind" and "Come When I Call" alongside barnstormers like a cover of Jimi Hendrix' "Wait Until Tomorrow". Where the Light Is closes out with a performance by Mayer's full band, including keys, horns, and, by the end, even a couple of bassists thumping away on-stage.
Every few songs, Where the Light Is cuts away from the stage. These interstitials include Mayer talking to the camera as he drives to rehearsal, changes into a full suit and tie for his set with the John Mayer Trio, and improvises a quick song about a dumpy paparazzo who starts trailing him. These snippets are short and infrequent enough that they don't drag down the pace of the show, and some of the comments are fairly insightful: how much he and his band get a kick out of trying to impress each other musically, how much the three-act structure of the concert feels like he's playing in three separate bands with their own ups and downs, and the thrill of playing with other musicians after years of plucking away on a guitar in his bedroom.
Between the songs and the interstitial candid footage of Mayer, Where the Light Is clocks in just over two and a half hours. The three sets include:
Audio: Where the Light Is features a pair of 24-bit, 96 kHz lossless soundtracks: a stereo PCM track as well as Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio. The recording is flawless, and the expansiveness of its dynamics stands out as particularly impressive. Bass response is outstanding, from Mayer's percussive strumming in his solo acoustic set to the tight, punchy kick drum highlighted throughout much of the rest of the concert. The sound design roots the bulk of the instrumentation in the front main speakers, reserving the surrounds largely for reverb and the roar of an extremely enthusiastic crowd, and the center channel is used somewhat sparingly. Another intriguing choice is that Where the Light Is doesn't attempt to localize the instrumentation; concert DVDs often tether specific musicians to certain channels, but the vocals and instruments throughout this concert are all clearly audible in each of the front mains. All of these elements are nicely balanced in the mix, bolstered by a remarkably robust sense of detail, distinctness, and clarity.
Extras: Electric guitar in hand, Mayer reflects on the concert against the backdrop of the Hollywood hills in "Slow Dancing on Mulholland Drive". This three and a half
Viewers are also offered the option to watch "Who Did You Think I Was?" with a picture-in-picture window showing more footage of drummer Steve Jordan and bassist Pino Palladino's performances. Each half of The John Mayer Trio's rhythm section gets his own set of camera angles, and the video can be cycled with a press of the red button.
Finally, a backstage performance of "Belief" can be downloaded by BD Live-capable players. Considering that there's still a comfortable amount of breathing room left on this dual layer disc, it's kind of odd that a downloadable song like this would be touted on the packaging.
The liner notes tucked inside the cardboard case include a fair number of photos, including shots snapped during the performances, backstage, and during rehearsals.
Conclusion: Where the Light Is documents an exceptional performance by John Mayer, highlighting his technical virtuosity as a guitarist as well as the harder driving, blues-inflected material that's dominated his output as of late. This Blu-ray disc looks and sounds outstanding as well, and especially for those with an appreciation for Mayer's change in musical direction over the past few years, the modest asking price for this two and a half hour concert film should make for essential viewing by his many fans. Recommended.