Jason Mraz @US Airways Center|10/2/12
Whoever was high at the Jason Mraz concert last night most likely had a blast. There were bright and swirling colors, extensive jam sessions, and captivating backgrounds that shifted from scenes of clouds in the sky to images of the universe rotating around -- not to mention lots of free love speech. It felt like everyone in the show was in it together, with group high fives, singalongs, and choreography orchestrated by Mraz throughout that aimed to get the crowd to forget their problems, no matter what was going on.
Indeed, the vibe was positive and powerful, with a focus Mraz's vocals and on the talented nine-member band that included a horn section, upright bassist, percussionist and violinist. Usually, musicians wait until the end of the show to introduce their band members, but Mraz showed off his group during the second song of the show, which was refreshing -- they were an integral part from the very beginning.
Mraz and crew donned touches of body paint, which gave off a great peace-and-love feel that coincided with the tone of the rest of the show. Appropriately because of the existing hippie vibe (Mraz claimed to be one himself), the stage set-up was minimalist, with three large screens in the background that displayed charming animation that went with the songs. My favorite clip was during "Butterfly," when hundreds of beautifully colored butterflies filled up the screens in between profiles of attractive ladies in neon colors. The sights definitely would have been enhanced by drugs, which it seemed like a few people were on judging by the scents wafting throughout.
Mraz dispensed many words of wisdom throughout the night, including gems such as "We are all in the same struggle...bless us on this awkward journey," "I appreciate my parents always giving me a safe space to try something," "(My) songs are what I can grow into," and the show-closer, "If you ever see someone who's down, pick 'em up." The concert was sort of like being in a group therapy session with the barefoot Mraz, who bounced off his ideas with the crowd during the show. He even sang a cover of Mr. Rogers' "Won't You Be My Neighbor?", conveying his longing to unite everyone regardless of status.
Because of the size of the arena, it would have been preferable to have some bigger screens on either side showing off the action, like most shows in venues of such big capacity have. There was lots of fun action going on on-stage, including a memorable moment just between him and the percussionist during "You Fuckin' Did It," and while all the music was captivating, it's just questionable how good of a view people up top and in the back of the full arena had. Thankfully, listeners were treated to a whole lot of talent by Mraz, who did his trademark ad libbing in-between belting out the high notes. What made the show so much fun is that it was very interactive, with Mraz asking the audience to do a wave to amp up the energy, take deep breaths together, sing "You are loved" to strangers and repeat the lyrics he was singing during "I'm Yours." By the end of the show, during a cover of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds," everyone was singing, "Every little thing is gonna be alright" together. The vibe in the space was uplifting, and the 2-hour show felt like Mraz's concerts usually do -- they're a place for his fans to come together and realize everyone has basic human worth that can be united in a positive place. Even if you didn't like his music, there was no denying the great energy that filled up the room.
Personal Bias: I've hugged Mraz and sang with him on-stage before. I'm pretty much a lifelong fan.
The Crowd: Mostly 20- and 30-somethings, maybe 60 percent female and 40 percent male. There were a big number of college kids in the mix.
Overheard in the crowd: "He's such a hippie," in reference to Mraz.
Random Notebook Dump: Even though I'm a Mraz fan, I wasn't thrilled with his VH1 Storytellers special this year because he came across as less humble that I'm used to seeing. At his show last night, though, he definitely put his fans on a great pedestal and was really happy throughout.
The Remedy (I Won't Worry) You and I Living in the Moment Sleeping to Dream When We Die The Woman I Love Lucky Live High Butterfly 93 Million Miles A Beautiful Mess Unfold Frank D Fixer You Fuckin' Did It I'm Coming Over Going Up the Country I'm Yours Three Little Birds Encore Collapsible Plans Distance (with opener Christina Perri) I Won't Give Up
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