Jason Mraz Brings Friends, Music, and Laughter to Stifel Theatre
ST. LOUIS, Missouri, December 9, 2018
The stage was set with nothing but two microphones and subtle holiday lights. The audience erupted with enthusiastic applause when Jason Mraz and special guest Gregory Page walked onstage with their guitars. Two voices and two instruments set the laid back mood for the evening.
After performing Page’s “Green Lights and Blue Skies” together, Page performed a handful of his folk songs (“Love’s Stronger Than Hatred”, “That’s You”, “Heartstrings”) to set the mood for the rest of the evening. After hearing his lyrics and guitar skills, it was easy to see that he and Mraz are strongly influenced by each other. They each use descriptive lyrics, plenty of emotion, and try to spread a positive message through their work. Page’s stage presence exudes quiet confidence and the rare enthusiastic optimism one can find in a friendly neighbor who asks how you’re doing and actually cares about the answer. You can hear some of his work here.
The crowd was enlivened when Mraz returned to the stage with percussionist Toca Rivera. With three voices, three microphones, two guitars, and a djembe drum, the air was full of melody. The trio performed a mix of Mraz’s and Page’s hits that span their careers, including “Hollywood’s Heroes”, “Life Is Wonderful”, “Sleeping to Dream”, “93 Million Miles”, “The Remedy”, and “Zero Percent”. This reviewer may or may not have cried real tears during everybody’s-favorite-wedding-song, “I’m Yours”. It was a beautiful moment. Don’t judge me.
Tell Me A Story
Mraz is known for captivating storytelling during his concerts, and did not disappoint. He made the concert hall feel as if everyone were old friends exchanging tales around a bonfire. Each song was accompanied by a story about his inspiration or an amusing anecdote to entice the audience to pay attention to the lyrics. Before performing “Details In The Fabric”, Mraz explained that his friends and colleagues challenge each other to include random words while songwriting . “Details” was one of those songs, the challenge to include “sewing machine” in the lyrics. It tells a sorrowful story of trying to keep one’s head up, so it was exciting to listen to it with different ears.
“Are the details in the fabric (Hold your own, know your name)
Are the things that make you panic (Go your own way)
Is it Mother Nature’s sewing machine?”
After performing “Chocolate”, a song encouraging one to “get that girl some chocolate”, Mraz explained that he wanted to be careful with the lyrics, so he asked his wife for her opinion on each and every line. She expressed concern over a line about a dairy cow, and he agreed. “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t put a cow in a song about my wife. But I did.” You can hear a live performance here.
Love in the Air
Much of Jason Mraz’s catalogue is love songs and he brought them all. “Lucky”, “Love Is Still The Answer”, “I’m Yours” and “Best Friends” all provided feelings of joy and contentment, while “I Won’t Give Up” drove audience members to slow dance in the aisles. One fan remarked, “I don’t really care about love songs, but Jason Mraz makes me believe in love.” The show came to a close with Mraz’s 2018 single “Have It All”. He changed the lyrics to address the audience, “I want you to have an amazing life and I want it to start tonight,” “because I want you to have it all.”
Toca Rivera has a quiet yet powerful stage presence, providing percussion and backup vocals. The spotlight shined on him during his solo performance of “Winter Wonderland” and during the chorus of “Zero Percent” when the song samples “Our House” in English and in Spanish. For a sample of Rivera in action, go here.
Mraz had a surprise up his sleeve. At the close of “Details”, a man in a Santa Claus hat walked onstage with a microphone to stand alongside the other musicians. He launched into a poetry slam-type recital of the lyrics to the “Cheers” and “The Facts of Life” theme songs. The crowd went wild with laughter and applause, at which point the mystery man was introduced as Billy Galewood (also known as Bushwalla… Not to be confused with ‘90s band Dishwalla). Galewood made appearances throughout the show, most notably during Mraz’s song “Karate”, in which he acted out the lyrics with abhorrent yet hilarious martial arts moves. Even Rivera had to take a moment to compose himself after being doubled over in laughter.
This show made for a fun and relaxing close to the weekend. If you want to experience a truly entertaining concert, Jason Mraz brings it. The acoustic tour is almost over but the Good Vibes tour will begin in Europe in February 2019. His current album Know. is available now.