Funny story: my fiancé is the second biggest Jason Mraz fan in the world (we discovered the #1 fan on the first night, but more on her later). We were in the city at Kinokuniya back in August and she joked about how it would be amazing to see Jason Mraz at the State Theatre. Literally two days later, she received an email with info on a fan pre-sale for Jason Mraz at the State Theatre. So, not really funny, then, I guess. Coincidence, perhaps? Anyway, the first show sold a butt ton of tickets in the first five minutes, so they put on a second show the next night, which we also got tickets for.
This review is gonna work is like this: I’m gonna examine the most notable (not necessarily the best) moments from each night, because I’m not doing two separate reviews for largely similar shows. Essentially, it’s a contrast-and-compare article, like what you’d get in a university essay. So, without further ado, here’s what went down when Jason Mraz played Sydney’s State Theatre on December 6 and 7, 2014.
Jason Mraz was the first man on stage both nights. He had a quick bit of banter with the crowd to lighten the mood and then courteously introduced Raining Jane, who opened both shows with three of their own original songs before playing out the rest of the set with Jason, because Jason’s 2014 Yes! album is a collaboration between him and RJ. Awesome, yes? Well, yes, for the most part. One of the RJ girls talked about Sydney’s current inclement weather and then introduced a song by saying that “love can be like a storm”, causing me to loudly go “oh my god, are you taking the piss?” but on the whole, they were really fun.
Percussionist Mona told the same story both nights about how they met Jason, how they started hanging out, and how the first song they wrote together was “A Beautiful Mess”. This was much more effective on the first night, when Jason then walked on stage and kicked right into “A Beautiful Mess”, but my highlight of both nights was RJ’s song about breakups, where the girl who the song is about performed with physical manifestations of anger and bitter resentment in every strum. It was awesome.
The shows were very lighthearted, but that’s what a Jason Mraz show is supposed to be about. Lots of jokes about sex and drugs, lots of environmental advocacy, and heaps of talking to the audience and connecting with the attendees. The aforementioned #1 fan made her appearance on the first night, yelling out that she was from San Diego and this was her 29th show. Jesus, girl, you went around the world to see him? That’s some dedication. Mraz asked her if there were any songs she wanted to hear, and then told her he wasn’t going to play what she said; he was merely curious.
The second night was marred by the girl sitting next to me, who had a laugh with a pitch that could peel the enamel from your teeth. On the plus side, the people behind us pulled a dodgy and ran to a bunch of empty seats lower down, so we hopped up and took their far more comfortable seats. On the whole, though, the crowd were brilliantly well behaved. As someone who’s far more at home at a Parkway Drive show, I’m always taken aback by how orderly and considerate the audience is at these kinds of shows. You mean that there are gigs where people don’t throw shoes at the bands and start fights just for shiggles? Who knew?
The first night ran well over time, so they had to cut their encore to one song: “I Won’t Give Up” (as a side note: he gave up on the girl he wrote that song about). The first night was also more about the new stuff, with choice cuts from Yes! and Love Is a Four Letter Word featuring prominently, while the second night was far more focused towards the die-hard fans. There was very little overlap in songs played. Only nine songs doubled up, and when the man is playing twenty-six song sets, that’s a bloody good spread.
Mraz was clearly having the time of his life, making a point each night of saying that “this is always how I’ve wanted to tour: on a stage with a bunch of friends and a guitar”. His little speeches were, if anything, even more entertaining than his music – the man is a born performer, with or without a guitar in his hand. Raining Jane were also brilliant, owning the stage like the seasoned professionals they are. Each member is a totally different person to the others, but together, they perform as potently as the cast of Friends.
Well, let’s not say things we can’t take back.
The absolute highlight of both nights was the relatively unknown track, “Bottom of the Sea”. It’s a pretty average song by itself, but spliced together with footage from Jason Mraz and Mona’s recent trip to Antarctica (complete with edited loops of animals moving slightly to create the impression of them performing adorable dance moves) made it a clear winner of both sets. The fact that Mraz was syncing his vocals up perfectly with his performance in the video with his back to the screen was pretty bloody impressive, too.
In the end, these were two fun shows that provided a reinvigorated Jason Mraz to perform in a more intimate setting than he would normally be afforded in Australia. The mixes were sublime, the songs were highly varied and brilliantly performed, as well as being tastefully interspersed with fun little snippet covers of Guns N’ Roses and Depeche Mode songs, and the atmosphere was light and family friendly (well, it would have been if Mraz didn’t use the word “fuck” like it’s on his Word of the Day calendar) and I had a brilliant time in spite of myself. I’ve been to maybe four concerts in my life that weren’t rock, metal or hardcore, and I had a whale of a time. Jason Mraz might not be your cup of tea, but god damn does he put on one hell of a show.
All he needs to do now is fire his stylist.