We Sang, We Danced, We Had Great Seats

18 Oct

It was four years ago that I last saw Jason Mraz live. It was an acoustic show at the Orpheum here in Boston and suffice it to say, it was not a good show — or at least my memories of it are not good. So what a relief that Mraz’s show Friday night back at the Orpheum was so much better and I now have it to refer to when I think of his live performances.

You already know how much I love Mraz’s latest album, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things. Well, how good was it to hear so many of those tracks live. Mraz really has a beautiful voice, and it was in evidence on songs like “If It Kills Me” and a James Morrison-less “Details in the Fabric,” not to mention on “Life Is Wonderful,” “Unfold,” and others. The seven-piece band — including an impressively tight horn section — really brought songs like “Live High” and “Make It Mine” to life (not that the songs needed help, mind you).

Our seats were four rows from the stage, dead center, so we saw it all — including a couple get engaged right in front of me during the jubilant “I’m Yours.” (Yeah, the guy actually got down on one knee in the middle of the concert.) We couldn’t always hear Mraz singing (I don’t think the speakers were turned up enough), but when we did, he sounded great. I mean, picking a highlight from the 16-song set list was tough. I keep mentioning stuff he sang — “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry),” “Butterfly,” and “No Stopping Us” made for a fun encore — and that’s just because it was all good. I also enjoyed “The Dynamo of Volition,” even if there was synchronized audience choreography.

If I had to quibble with anything, it would be three things: One, I wish Mraz didn’t slow down the tempo of some of his more upbeat songs, like “Remedy.” I also wish he didn’t take such long breaks between each song during the first half of the show to hydrate and talk — it killed the pacing. And finally, although the show was two hours long, I wish he’d played more. Among the tracks not played were “Geek in the Pink” and, a more egregious omission, “You and I Both.” I suppose an old classic like “The Dream Life of Rand McNally” would be asking too much.

But that said, as I previously mentioned, what Mraz did sing was very good. And though he ended the show with the mellow “A Beautiful Mess,” it was simply gorgeous and it sent me out into the night on a high. So now, unlike the last time I saw Mraz live, I can’t wait to see him again.

(One interesting observation before I go, however. I remember a time when bringing a camera to and taking pictures at a concert was forbidden. Mraz encourages picture-taking; at one point, photos from the audience were projected on the screens behind him. Had I known, I would have brought my own camera. The photos above are from the Schreiders. Click here to see the rest.)

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