Singer-songwriter Jason Mraz spent a couple of hours with Cleveland last night as he came through town on the second stop on his Good Vibes summer tour. A huge swirly rainbow tapestry with the words Good Vibes behind him, Mraz walked onto the stage wearing a carefree grin and his guitar, visibly ready to put us all into a San Diego state of mind.
Dressed in a comfy looking baby pink jumpsuit topped with one of his signature straw hats, Mraz was every bit the embodiment of one of his earliest hits, “Geek in the Pink.” But before treating the crowd to the songs that kicked off his career, Mraz serenaded fans with the intimate and stripped down “Let’s See What the Night Can Do,” a new track off his upcoming album. The lyrics begged us all to drive away and get lost with him, with only the light of the moon to guide us. This set the tone for the evening, which immediately felt like the show was taking place on a hidden cove on a secluded island in the middle of somewhere else.
Once safely hidden in the "cove," Mraz comforted us with the song that sent him into superstardom back in 2002, “The Remedy.” Mraz and his band, including the four extremely talented and effortlessly stunning female members of the group Raining Jane, rearranged the track just enough to make it feel new and special, sprinkled with psychedelic fade-outs that sent us deeper down the rabbit hole. In the middle of the song, Raining Jane surrounded him, and they all broke out into a choreographed dance. The rest of the band, including Raining Jane, were also dressed in jumpsuits, each a different primary color, holding various instruments, all the smiles and Candyland colors making them appear like a traveling von Trapp troupe of musical Care Bears.
The night continued with crowd favorites like “Lucky,” including more synchronized dancing. The fans also got up on their feet, and Mraz sheepishly said, “We’re new to the dance moves, but we are committed.” He was fully aware that the rudimentary choreography was nothing too flashy or impressive, but they were having fun with it. Tropical and good-natured, Mraz and his band would have been right at home performing for the castaways on Gilligan’s Island
. Mraz’s voice was a cool ocean breeze, exuding the mushy heart fluttering fresh feelings of falling in love.
His new single “Might as Well Dance” was clever, sweet, romantic and a little bit naughty, making it an instant Mraz classic. He introduced the song with a story, saying he wrote it in Nashville for a pretty girl and sang it to her on her answering machine. “That pretty little lady liked it a whole lot, and she married me a short while after.” This was met with audible “awwwws” from the crowd as fans swayed and hugged each other, basking in the cuteness overload.
Mraz spent much of his two-hour set telling little anecdotes. The funniest moment of the night was when someone in the front row yelled out to Mraz. Mraz told us that she just asked him “Can I show you my feet?” He looked slightly weirded out, but instead of shaming her, he played along and said, "Sure, show me your feet" with a kind of why-the-hell-not-shrug. She got closer, and he read what must have been written on her feet, “You can take off my shoes, but I’m still gonna shine,” an adorable reference to a well-known lyric from “The Remedy.” Mraz laughed and looked genuinely touched by this odd foot tribute to his words.
The Cuyahoga River and the Cleveland skyline served as the perfect backdrop as Mraz and his band performed “I’m Yours” with a big sailboat floating on by behind them. For an acoustic set, Raining Jane formed a huddle around Mraz to sing a few songs, including “Love Someone.” The volume on Mraz's microphone was a little too low and had to be switched out a few times before his hushed voice filled the venue once again. Mraz was skilled at injecting his masterful falsetto into each track at the perfect moment. As a spectator, it was easy to get lost in a dream haze, to feel post-nap confusion, unable to distinguish if the moment was real, and actual reality was a blurry and out of focus distant memory.
Mraz dedicated “93 Million Miles” to his parents, saying it was his favorite song he had ever created and was written specifically for them. Prior to performing the song about family and being true to his roots, Mraz talked about how the importance of keeping a “zoom-out perspective” while living life and that music is a great reminder to do so. Mraz said we should “take a second to think about someone that’s not here tonight and send them your love.” And then, Mraz performed the song as an enormous full moon hung low in the night above a bridge, enjoying the mellow melody right along with us.
Mraz took us even higher by toasting the crowd with the final song of the night, a climactic rendition of “Have It All.” The song wove in and out of a trance like an audio molly trip with an actual woman named Molly on guitar.
Like the contents of an attic trunk, instruments like a ukulele, a sitar and a tiny piano were played as Mraz moved around the stage, engaging with each band member and giving a special shoutout to long-time band member Toca Rivera. The self-professed curbside profit had shared his expansive song catalogue with us for one joyous evening, the band a smorgasbord of shiny happy people. A passing ship gave a long deep honk as the final punctuation to the show.
After the final bows, Mraz signed a few autographs and left the stage. The house lights went up and the sky opened, releasing a downpour of rain it had politely been holding until the very moment that Mraz and his Technicolor Dream Team had left for their next adventure.