Live Review: Jason Mraz
The fervently faithful handful, who'd arrived early at the Palais, Monday night, were rewarded with Jason Mraz, sauntering on stage to intro the first support act of the night. Aussie (and ex-Oz Idol) songstress, Lisa Mitchell, who despite a consistent lack of vocal clarity and unsure onstage appearance, still had the crowd showing her a good deal of appreciation.
Truthfully, I was more interested in seeing support act number two: Eric Hutchinson. And when once again Mraz appeared to introduce his fellow-American, I was well-pleased to hear Hutchinson’s tunes resonated with so much more intensity live than on record. And with only bass player, drummer and himself alternating between keyboard, acoustic and electric guitar, the three wrung out every skerrick of funk-soul from the outset. The crowd was quick to chime-in following Hutchinson’s joking appeal to join-in on the singable 'Oh!' as he doled-out several more home-runs from his diverse debut album, 'Sounds Like This'.
Hutchinson capped off his feverish set with the ubiquitously spun, 'Rock and Roll', and although the masses had come to see Mr Az, many converted into “Hutcheads” that eve.
Hyped is one word that comes to mind when I think of Jason Mraz, and quite frankly, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about, but that’s obviously because I wasn’t one of the “chippy” hordes who'd assembled to see his behatted-ness.
Nonetheless, he and his seven-piece band launched straight into high-gear with the retro-sounding soul/fusion of 'Make It Mine', before a medley of songs that set a subdued pace for much of the evening.
Midway through the set, Mraz re-introduced Mitchell onto the stage to share the vocals on 'Lucky', where Mitchell again looked uncertain, perhaps touchingly even more than she had in her own set.
At one point, while being forced to stand due to the first 10 or so rows of M-razzers hell-bent on remaining upright and chirruping back the lyrics - particularly during the sentimentally distended ballad 'Beautiful Mess' - felt like being caught-up in some kind of honky love-in.
The drawn-out treatment of each song mired-down much of Mraz’s repertoire and without the diversion of the brass trio’s antics, and percussionist/backing vocalist, Toca Rivera’s, animated interjections, the mainly mid-tempo set would have simply limped along.
The much anticipated 'I’m Yours' hoisted teenage (and a few mums and dads) excitement like frilly knickers in a fierce flurry, and by the time the closing encore had arrived, I had to high-tail it to the sounds of Mraz again going into a refrain.
To quote the cliche, a fine night was had by all.