Last night I saw Jason Mraz play at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Opening acts were K'Naan and G-Love & Special Sauce.
The sound balance was horribly off (at least where I was sitting) for the opening acts. All drums, not a lot of vocals, nothing else. K'Naan wasn't really my thing. I probably would have enjoyed G-Love if the sound were right. He was at least fun to watch (if only for his knees, which didn't rest the whole time he was on stage). His style mixed well with Jason's type of music, so it made sense that he was the opener.
But I wasn't there for G-Love or Special Sauce. I was there for Jason. Thankfully, they managed to fix the sound issues by the time he got going.
Watching him on stage, it's obvious that he loves what he does. He was having more fun than anyone in the audience. He opened with the song "Make it Mine," which is also the first track on his most recent album, "We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things." I don't remember the whole set list, but I remember he played "Lucky," "The Dynamo of Volition" (which had a fun dance that I wasn't able to do because of the vertigo I was feeling from being in the front row of the balcony), some other songs off the new album that I don't remember very well, and "Who Needs Shelter" and "The Remedy (I Won't Worry)" from his first album. He also did an awesome reworking of "Curbside Prophet," which was always one of my favorite songs of his. I suppose the lyrics of the song as it was originally written don't really apply anymore, as he's come a long way since then. I need to find a recording of the new version - I liked it a lot!
He closed out the set with his mega-hit, "I'm Yours." For the fans, he played it mostly straight so that we could sing along (changing the lyric "it's our god-forsaken right to be loved" to "it's our god-intended right to be loved," as I think is appropriate - I'm glad he fixed that line because it used to really bother me). After the song as we know it, having fun with the crowd and doing his own thing, Jason and the band turned the song into Reggae classic "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley - that's the one that goes "Don't worry about a thing/'cause every little thing is gonna be all right." Everyone sang along, everyone was having fun, and no one was worrying about a thing. It was a great way to end the set.
Now, the Xcel center is a hockey arena. It's huge. The main floor was general admission - no seats or anything, just a giant mass of people moving to the music. For the encore, Jason and his band suddenly appeared at the back of the main floor, on a small stage by the sound booth. Watching the hoard of fans run from one end of the floor to the other was hilarious. Jason played a couple slow songs, and then the drummer pulled his girlfriend on stage and got down on one knee. She said yes. Then Jason played the old hit "You and I Both" dedicated to the happy couple.
For the second encore Jason made his way back to the main stage (another wave as the people on the floor rushed back to the front) and played a couple more songs, closing with "Butterfly." If you don't know the song, the reason I find this significant is that it's rather... suggestive. To say the least. If you actually listen to the words, he uses "butterfly" as a metaphor for a certain part of the female anatomy. But it's a fun song, and as it turns out, it was a great way to end the show.
The best part was at the very end - after the band left the stage, after they all put their instruments down, Jason was still there, waving and bowing and tipping his hat to his fans. You could tell he loves his job.
Oh, and there was also at one point a picture on the screen behind the band of a humpback whale playing a guitar. Priceless.