Life is wonderful, except when it’s not. Bad day? Stressed out? You have a very important decision to make. Do you accept your negative status or alter your perspective? Perhaps you need some help.
If sadness is based on a scale of one to Adele, happiness has to be measured from one to Mraz. The charming and talented Jason Mraz, in collaboration with his musical cohorts Raining Jane, had an entire audience under his spell during night one of three sold-out shows at The Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles Thursday night.
My first Jason Mraz concert was in 2003, and so, as a seasoned expert, I will tell you that, besides the incredible music, the best thing about his live performances is his between-song banter. Any GRAMMY award-winning artist can play, but this one introduced his opening band, personally thanked his audience for their support, and teased late-comers for being on a different frequency. Like his music, his storytelling is smart and observational without trying too hard to be funny and philosophical without being preachy. His willingness to go along with unscripted moments makes his concerts special and one-of-a-kind, even if the setlist is the same each night.
Not to be outdone, Raining Jane was an incredible addition to the evening and opened with some of their own work. These sassy ladies are no background players and proved their ability as stand-alone artists with the song “Opposite of Blue,” which really grabbed listeners and recalled the emotions of heartbreak. The four women are UCLA alumni and collaborated with Jason on his latest album, Yes!, out now. Bonus, they are super talented musicians and utilized an armory of musical instruments I cannot name. I especially loved when the bassist, Becky Gebhardt, played a sitar on “Shine.”
Jason Mraz’s set was well balanced with new and old favorites, including “Life is Wonderful,” “You and I Both,” and his newest single, “Love Someone.” Special guest and fellow UCLA alum Sara Bareilles joined the musicians on stage for “Beautiful” from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical to pay homage to a stage that normally houses Broadway productions.
As a man of many layers, Mr. A-Z is more than an organic avocado-farming cat lover. He is an advocate for reducing or even reversing climate change and took a trip to Antarctica with Al Gore for a summit on the matter. Jason shared home video from the expedition and sang live to a previously recorded lip-sync with Raining Jane’s percussionist Mona Tavakoli on screen. In the recording, you can see them kayaking and being blown around a boat deck by freezing winds. Jason even plays conductor to an orchestra of penguins and takes a polar dip in the frigid water. Pretty impressive to sync this up since the trip was over a year and a half ago.
This was my friend’s first Jason Mraz concert, and to witness her reaction and admiration for the artist after seeing him for the first time left me feeling as though I were looking at him through fresh eyes. Raining Jane and Jason delivered a successful performance that lifted my spirits, played with my inner child, and eased my mind. The audience practically floated out of the venue at the end of the night.
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