Much like a romantic comedy – you know, that old standby you rely on to give you the warm fuzzies when you’re feeling down – Jason Mraz did what he does best as he took the stage in Freeborn Hall on Nov. 3: deliver feel-good pop tunes.
As could be expected, Mraz gave a predictably strong performance. Though tickets were still offered the day of the concert to any last-minute stragglers or passers-by, student pre-sale tickets to the show sold out quickly. The demographic of Mraz’s concert was largely comprised of devoted fans who were more than familiar with his songs, acting as back-up singers as they sang along to numbers like “You and I Both” and “I’m Yours.“
Djembe drum player Toca Rivera, who has toured with Mraz for four years, and a horn set also accompanied Mraz’s performance.
However, Mraz made a turn from charming to cheesy during “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)” as he segued the song to “Wonderwall” by Oasis, and also during his rendition of Bob Marley’s “One Love.“
What did set Mraz apart was his personality as he shared stories of a sympathetically awkward adolescence, which included an account of a failed “tongue touching” incident in the sixth grade. Mraz encouraged audience participation by leading sing-alongs and teaching dance moves. He added an extra touch to the standard band introductions by taking Polaroids of each member and throwing the snapshots to the audience.
Despite being best known as the female vocalist accompanying Damien Rice in songs like “The Blower’s Daughter,” Irish singer Lisa Hannigan proved her power as a solo artist as the opening act for Mraz. Though her lyrics were hard to discern – whether or not her Dublin accent could be blamed is debatable – Hannigan’s neo-folk sound, which sounded like a cross between a folksier Feist and a less-angsty Alanis Morisette, was a pleasant compliment to Mraz’s pop tunes.
Hannigan joined Mraz toward the end of his nearly two-hour set with the song “Lucky,” a duet originally recorded with singer Colbie Caillat on Mraz’s newest release We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.
The day before Nov. 4‘s Election Day, Mraz also took the opportunity to get political, endorsing president-elect Barack Obama and urging concert goers to vote no on Proposition 8.
“The morale of this country is going to warm this atmosphere,” he said.
– Rachel Filipinas