by Jeff Niesel
Mid-way through last night’s two-hour concert at Blossom, singer-songwriter Jason Mraz introduced “Halfway Home” with a story. He talked about how the track was the second serious song he wrote during a short period of time when he shared a New York City apartment with a roommate who was originally from Cleveland. He said that when he told his ex-roommate that he would be headlining Blossom, his pal warned him that it was a big, big venue. Undaunted by Blossom’s spaciousness, Mraz treated the venue as if it were his own living room. Backed by a big six-piece band that swelled to nine-pieces when the three-man horn section entered the mix, Mraz, who came to prominence after moving to San Diego over a decade ago, adroitly switched between acoustic and electric and showed just how much he’s evolved from being a sun- and sand-obsessed singer-songwriter.
He began the show by playing acoustic, and his backing band slowly emerged from back stage to join him as he segued into the funky “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry).” Throughout the night, Mraz, a guy whose music alternates between James Taylor-inspired pop and Jack Johnson-like rock, veered between ballads and mid-tempo rockers. When at his best, he took a song like “Living in the Moment” that featured a cliché for a refrain and built into an anthem of sorts. The same went for “Plane,” an atmospheric tune that found Mraz awkwardly waving his arms like some kind of injured bird as he channeled the song’s energy.
In his attempt to turn Blossom into a more intimate venue, Mraz even busted out a sincere cover of the Mr. Rogers’ theme song “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” While there were a few missteps along the way — “Frank D. Fixer” sounded like a bad country tune — Mraz had the crowd on its feet and singing for the finale, “I’m Yours.” Too bad that energy didn’t quite carry over to the encore, which began with the tepid “Song for a Friend” and didn’t bring the show to a powerful conclusion.