Written by Dave Clements
I was hoping we were closing in on another mild Christmas here in the Lone Star State. However, the weather on this night seemed more like a New England Winter setting with a blustery wind that was way too cold for me. Fortunately this didn’t interfere at all with the happenings at the modern & beautiful (and cozy) Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land, Texas. Southern California resident Jason Mraz was performing for his tribe of loyal fans who were out in force. I must confess up front that I am one of them and proud of it.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect with a tour titled “Live in Stereo’ and I promise you now having seen the show there is no way I will be able to write this review in a way that will do the show justice or explain the title. I’m just not that good of a writer and frankly I am, now the day after, a little overwhelmed with all that I experienced last night from Jason and his buddies.
For sure this was NOT your stereotypical music venue concert that starts with the opener and then moves on to the headliner with his or her well instrumented backup band playing their hits as a well as a few of their new tunes. Even though those elements did exist this night.
Actually Jason didn’t bring his ‘normal’ band to Sugar Land. Who he did bring were a few friends of his that were all willing to have some fun, be very silly, laugh at each other and themselves and come and go from the stage routinely during the 2.5 hour show. The show was cleverly done, maybe a little Post Modern Jukebox-ish!
The evening started with Mraz and his long time buddy and fellow San Diego resident Gregory Page coming out for one number together then Jason picking up his mic stand and walking off the stage leaving Gregory to share some of his own tunes with the very receptive audience. Gregory was touring for the first time nationally and he seemed to be soaking it up even though he appeared a little nervous at first with all eyes on him and him alone! He recovered quickly and presented himself well. He is an upbeat clever songwriter and singer and I would encourage you to check him out at www.gregorypage.com.
Jason was back up and soon had another buddy and long term collaborator Toca Rivera at his side along with Gregory. Toca is a vocutionist (a percussionist who also sings). Toca is also the sole heir to the throne of an uncharted island in the South Pacific. More to his story but let’s move on with the review.
The three of them were in sync from the beginning and ready to deliver a performance like none other I have seen in some time. It was more like a variety show than a ‘concert’. There was lots of snappy chatter, joke telling, Caribbean flair, clever modified lyrcs to songs, several edgy moments and a special guest ‘utility infielder’ named Michael who ‘wasn’t on the marquee’. This guy Michael was all over the place cutting up, dancing, singing, telling jokes and messing with the others like there was no tomorrow. I have no clue how they concluded that Michael was a ‘good idea’ for the show but you know what, he really was freakin’ funny and it FIT!
But Michael wasn’t the only ‘special guest’ not on the marquee to make an appearance. A lady named Chaska Potter from the band Raining Jane was also on hand after the intermission and what a hoot she is, besides being hugely talented.
I loved the entire evening and the clear highlight was the time Chaska and Jason were on stage together as a duo. They started with ‘Lucky’ (I’m in Love), one of my favorite JM songs and then did ‘Let’s Come Together This Christmas’…and no I’m not saying anything else about this song’s content however if you can find an opportunity to view it, you should. It will lift your Christmas spirits!
A close hilarious second was Karate/Pilates…featuring Michael on the floor! Not sure what else to add …you just had to be there…period!
There were many of JM’s hits sung, like I Won’t Give Up, 93 Million Miles, and I’m Yours that resonated with the audience plus two others that come to mind that were new to me, Chocolate & Leather both about his wife of three years.
Before closing, I have a couple of other highlights. First, the quality of the sound (and lighting) was superb. And secondly, the staff’s hospitality to this HMR’er was equal in quality to the sound & lights.
Thank you Smart Financial and until next time please keep live music alive, go see a show or two!