thu 18/07/2019

Jason Mraz, Royal Albert Hall review - a rare UK visit from the Grammy-winning organic farmer | reviews, news & interviews

Jason Mraz, Royal Albert Hall review - a rare UK visit from the Grammy-winning organic farmer

Jason Mraz, Royal Albert Hall review - a rare UK visit from the Grammy-winning organic farmer

Platinum albums with a side of organic avocados and coffee

Mraz: Love is the answer, apparentlyJustin Bettman

Jason Mraz… How can someone so big slip under so many radars. Mine, the muso with whom I trek to all sorts of gigs, and that of a wide range of friends, most of whom are pretty au courant with the scene.

Then you hear it. Of course, the big hit – probably on all our mental juke boxes – “I’m Yours”, which has clocked up sales of around 1.4 million, and which comes from his third album, We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things (2008). The single set what was then a record of 76 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at number six, going on to win a Grammy and to be named ASCAP Song of the Year.

The album picked up two Teen Choice Awards Stateside and it was surprising in light of that to see quite a few older faces, not a few of them with grey hair, bopping happily at the Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday evening. Many of them, when asked by Mraz to show the love, first of all for the Berlin-based support act Berge, switched on the flashlights in their hand-held devices. Not so long ago it was cigarette lighters, even matches. Remember those photos of Bob Dylan at Blackbushe?

Since that hit single, Mraz has collected two further Grammys, platinum awards in some 20 countries, and a mighty handful of other baubles, including the 2010 Surfrider Foundation Clean Water Award. This son of San Diego has also been named Surfrider’s Humanitarian of the Year – a recognition of the work done by the Jason Mraz Foundation in support of equality, environmental preservation and education. He headlined a 2012 concert in Myanmar to raise awareness of human trafficking and joined Al Gore and a group of scientists in Antarctica to see first-hand the effects of climate change.

And, judging by his performance in London – his first since 2012 and his only UK stop – it all makes him very happy. At a time when there’s little to feel good about on either side of the Atlantic, or in many other corners of the world, Mraz and his band – eight very talented musicians, five of them women – exuded joy and happiness and he exhorted the audience to stand up and dance, hold the hand of the stranger next to them. All that touchy-feely stuff that can be discomfiting but which you find yourself smiling at even if you don’t fully engage.

Jason and his golden team – including lead guitarist Dr Molly Miller whose birthday it was – leapt about in their onesies, each a different colour but all with the pants rolled up at the ankles to reveal matching white sneakers with go-faster stripes. It was hard to tell who was having more fun – band or audience – as the pork pie-behatted Mraz ricocheted around the stage, cutaway acoustic strapped to his slender body, occasionally high-fiving fans in the front row.

The eight-piece band featured five women, though aside from Dr M (chair of the Guitar Department at Los Angeles College of Music) who was named-checked several times – and presented with a cake – it was all but impossible to hear their names over the cheering and applause. But they all seemed to be having as much fun as Mraz, who emerged from the San Diego coffeehouse scene in 2002 with the reggae-tinged “The Remedy”. His songs – “Let’s See What the Night Can Do”, “Living in the Moment”, “Love is the Answer”, “I Won’t Give Up” and “Three Things” – walk the boundaries of pop/folk, with moments of rap and an occasional whiff of Brazil.

The show was upbeat, ocassionaly whimsical, a reflection (it would appear) of Mraz the man, though he’s admitted to having written a clutch of post-Trump “teenage rebellion songs” which Atlantic Records mostly rejected. Despondent for a while, he got his mojo back playing Dr Pomatte in Broadway's hit musical Waitress and then decided he could “be of more service as the voice of optimism”. When he’s not on the road, he and his wife farm five and a half acres, providing organic avocados for Chipotle and the first coffee harvest should be ready soon.

He’s said he enjoys making music, “but when it’s done, I’ll be on that tractor”. The fans will hope it’s not done for some time.

Liz Thomson's website

the pork pie-behatted Mraz ricocheted around the stage, cutaway acoustic strapped to his slender body, occasionally high-fiving fans in the front row

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Comments

Great show, and great review. So good to see a well constructed, choreographed, coordinated show with huge energy. Yes his enthusiasm for life was infectious, and his voice was superb in the hall. I saw him at the Hammersmith Apollo in Feb 2015, and he played the RAH the year before, so it wasn't 2012 as last time he was here. Also, surprised no mention of the guest appearance by Sara Bareilles, which was a highlight.

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