Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto, ON
September 9, 2012
Review by: Melissa Adamson
Photos by: Julie Lavelle
How the artist touched a few thousand of his closest Toronto fans.
It has been over a decade since the release of Jason Mraz’s debut CD and, with a rise in popularity over the last four years, Mraz - first known for his “wordplay” and rapid-fire lyrics - continues to deliver upbeat music and to bring together a community of loving fans. From the choreographed dance moves with his three-piece horn section to his dynamic connection with fiery percussionist Mona Tavakoli, he and his band kept the audience on their feet, dancing and singing throughout the show.
Mraz started the night by casually strolling on stage with bare feet, like he was walking into his backyard. He performed “You and I Both” with no band, strumming his guitar gently and letting his vocals carry the song. It was incredible how quickly the amphitheatre fell silent and how effortlessly his voice floated through the crowd.
As the last note of “You and I Both” finished, the artist and his band started “The Remedy" without skipping a beat. Mraz is a master of smooth transitions, connecting songs together with fragments of covers or pieces of his other song. He transitioned between “Make It Mine”, “Live High”, and “Only Human”, weaving the songs together perfectly before slowing down to sing “Lucky”, with Canadian jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky. It was nice to see Mraz switch from his original two singles to turn his attention to songs from We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, the album that helped increase his popularity.
When there were breaks between songs, Mraz would start the next quietly and without his band, allowing only his vocals to carry the first few lines. It is hard to not appreciate these moments, as they give you the opportunity to really hear his vocal control. Throughout the entire set, Jason’s vocals didn’t falter and he was never outshone by his a nine-piece band.
When you see Mraz perform live, it doesn’t matter how many times you have listened to his CD - it is like listening to each song for the first time. His ability to emote is incredible and you really hear and understand the lyrics through his live performance. He doesn’t just sing the lyrics, he feels them, and you feel them right along with him. He has said in interviews that he wants his songs to empower a listener or light a spark within them, and that is exactly what he does. When Mraz performs, you realize the meaning behind his lyrics and can’t help but feel a connection with him.
Jason’s vocal talents and ability to emote the meaning of a song shone through halfway through the set with “Plane”, a song from his 2005 album Mr. A-Z. While he sang with conviction, his movements, the visuals on the screens behind him, and the long powerful notes he held helped escalate the song to a pulsing end, making it the strongest song of the night.
Always one to show love and gratitude, Mraz ended the night by thanking the audience for giving him a moment to feel like part of a community and shared the following encouragement: “Leave the world better than you found it. That includes the people. If someone is down, lift their spirits.”
You and I Both
The Remedy (I Won't Worry)
Make It Mine
Lucky (with Nikki Yanofsky)
Living in the Moment
Up (With "All You Need Is Love")
When We Die
93 Million Miles
A Beautiful Mess
The Woman I Love
Frank D. Fixer
You Fucking Did It
I'm Coming Over
Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours (With snippet of "Shout" by The Isley Brothers)
All Dialed In
Distance (with Christina Perri)
I Won't Give Up
Christina Perri, who has a humble confidence similar to Mraz, was the perfect opener for the night. Those who are familiar with her popular singles “Jar of Hearts” and “A Thousand Years” may be surprised to hear that the girl can rock! Those two singles are only a soft sample of the true Christina Perri, who has her own unique voice and a lively stage presence.
It was clear to see that Perri, who had a rather quick rise to fame, was very grateful for the opportunity to open for one of her idols. She shared with the audience that it was a dream-come-true to open for Mraz, who she had hoped to play with since she was seventeen.
While talking to a few people after her set, I got the impression that I wasn’t the only one surprised and impressed by Perri; I think she may have collected more than a few Torontonians’ hearts for her jar.