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Making a good argument that rehearsals are for rookies, and that some Oscar nominees are better utility players than others, Questlove sat in with John Mayer’s band at a Madison Square Garden show Monday after the singer’s usual drummer, Steve Ferrone, tested positive for COVID in the afternoon leading up to the show.

Mayer’s crew was actually down by two at the start of his second night at MSG, with backup singer Carlos Ricketts Jr. also testing positive. The singer’s initial response was to make the gig a stripped-down, acoustic performance, before Questlove, summoned not long before showtime, stepped in for the second half of the performance — saying later that he would have liked to play the whole thing.

“Tonight’s show was special in ways that I’m still processing,” Mayer wrote in the wee hours after the unusual show Monday. “We send our love to @steve_ferrone and @made4good in hopes they traipse through COVID and return to the stage quickly. My boundless appreciation goes out to the legendary @questlove, who stepped in on an hour’s notice to help end the show on such a powerful and definitive note.

“The brilliant musicians in this band stepped up in ways that I will never forget, and will bond us forever,” Mayer continued. “Most importantly, I thank everyone in attendance whose enthusiasm and energy in the face of some disappointing news lifted us all to something far greater than I could have ever expected. It’s the honor of my life to share these nights of music with you. The next couple of tour stops will feature this format (minus the very otherwise-engaged Questlove) and I will devote every moment to making sure we bring you the best show we can. Thank you, NYC.”

Questlove, for his part, expressed minor annoyance at being thwarted from seeing his “idol,” Ferrone (a legendary session player who joined Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for their final two decades or so), possibly outweighed by his joy at getting to fulfill some of Ferrone’s duties in the band of all-star veteran players Mayer has assembled for the tour.

“Welp,” Questlove wrote in a tag-heavy post on Instagram. “I thought I was hangin with the crew tonight. the plan was seeing a kick ass band at @thegarden — I came home from LA early to do @fallontonight then me & my guys @bsherman2222, @sugasteve (from @qls) & @rayangry headed to see @johnmayer & @greg_phillinganes_live & @pino_palladino_official_ & @drh3 & @sharkey335 @steve_ferrone & the rest of ‘the avengers of music’ — I got out my show clothes all exited & then I checked my phone: ‘Ferrone got Covid, can you sit in?'”

“Truth be told I coulda played the whole show,” the drummer continued. “I texted Jimmy earlier I felt like Don Henley in 1988 when last min he played drums for @gunsnroses at the @amas (weirdest version of #Patience ever) I was anxious, amped, timorous, excited, scared & hyped!! Gotta say once onstage it was gravy. I haven’t played with this combo since the @rootspicnic in nyc 2013 w D’angelo & we haven’t lost a step. It was hella fun tonight!”

Questlove continued: “This also marks the THIRD time a circumstance kept me from seeing my idol drum (Ferrone is literally WHY I drum — first time Petty’s unfortunate passing prevented me from seeing him drum & then I went to the 8th floor at 30rock to watch him sit in on @latenightseth & of course 3/16/22 the world shut down so that was strike two — and now this — ONE OF THESE NIGHTS imma see my hero play drums.”

Mayer responded to Questlove on Instagram: “What you did was unforgettable and brilliant. Thank you for saving the day.”

Mayer and his pared-down band played 17 acoustic songs at the MSG show before being joined by Questlove for an electrified final six: “Vultures,” “Clarity,” “Something Like Olivia,” a cover of Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones,” “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” and the encore, “Gravity.”

The tour continues — with, as Mayer wrote, a continuation of the acoustic format, and no Questlove guest shot — tonight at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.