If you’ve gots the poison, I’ve gots The Remedy — a beautiful night under the stars with your babe, or your beau, and your heart in your hand ready for healing and joy. Jason Mraz served it up at Chastain Amphitheater in Atlanta, on August 18, 2018, and bringing an old flame as my date was either a mistake I’ll regret, or absolutely lovely and perfect.
Only last week, Atlantic Records released Mraz’ sixth album, Know., and the Good Vibes Tour stop in Atlanta opened with its first track, “Let’s See What the Night Can Do.”
“I wanna get lost with you and hide out under the light of the moon, and see what it’s like to spend the whole night with you, with you, just you, with you, just you, let’s see what the night can do…”
At the time, I was in the photographer’s well by the sound booth, so for the time being, the romance eluded me. But the night was young.
Jason Mraz, a self-described love-song-lover, had matched the mood in the audience though. It was a not-too-warm night, clear and magical after a torrential rain pour not even an hour prior to the show, and nearly all the seats were filled with steadfast fans clearly on some really good date nights. This event had been a “Table Setup concert”, where attendees are allowed to bring small coolers with their own food and drink, and there were still spots of glowing picnic lights glittering across State Bank Amphitheater at Chastain Park.
Only a couple of days ago, Aretha Franklin had passed, and it was a wonderful tribute to hear Mraz’ sweet, crystal-clear tone, and his bandmates’ tight complex harmonies, singing together “I Say A Little Prayer”. And speaking of tight complex harmonies, for the encore too they sang an almost entirely capella cover. The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” set off the group’s collective talent and cohesiveness, their fun-loving spirit, and it sent us off with the theme of the night still vibrating in our bones.
All in technicolor cotton jumpsuits (Mraz was regretting his full-length one a little bit in the humid Georgia summer), the show was alternately silly, sweet, romantic, and so much fun, and often all of the above. Jason interacts with his audience like the venue of 5,000+ was his neighborhood bar, and we loved it. Those years performing weekly at Java Joe’s in San Diego paid off. His stage charisma and antics make seeing him perform live irreplaceable by his recorded works. #ListenLive
The music of Jason Mraz is both feeling and thinking music. Consider one of his medleys tonight — adding Monty Python’s “Galaxy Song” lyrics to his “93 Million Miles”, from Love Is a Four Letter Word (2012), and performing “Living in the Moment” tonight too from the same album. He brings us maybe some perspective, and a lot of encouragement to take life not so seriously.
“When I hear people accusing me of being positive, they accuse me in a way that says, well it can’t be real, you can’t really be that positive all the time. And they’re correct, I’m not positive all the time. But I’ve used art and songwriting as an opportunity to transform my sadnesses, my depression, my melancholy, into something more positive.” — Jason Mraz, on Larry King Now, 2014
His works are sing-along music. Campfire, road trip, swaying in an amphitheater music. Wanting to hold the hand of an ex-lover music. Maybe holding that hand for a song or two music. Maybe more.
My above-mentioned extra-ticket-holder for the night called Mraz, “if Dave Matthews was a parrothead.” Jason might agree. Lina Lecaro of The Los Angeles Times quoted him in 2003 as being influenced by Matthews in fact, and George Michael(!), and Nirvana. She notes “Mraz’s multifaceted sound, which weaves together folk, soul, pop and even a little ska and hip-hop,” and right on the nose goes on to say, “Lyrically, Mraz’s material is equally multifaceted. Whimsical imagery, humorous pop culture references and sensitive-guy romanticisms mingle and jingle in a way that’s utterly charming and surprisingly un-cliched.”
But what stands out, is — well, all of it — Jason’s easy talent as a singer (/rapper!), and songwriter, and composer/arranger, not to mention his choice of talented musician stage partners. In fact the one audio souvenir I’d taken of the night was Becky Gebhart’s startlingly ravishing sitar solo. And oh my, Mai Bloomfield’s tiny piano playing. And Molly Miller’s lead guitar that sent us to heaven again and again.
The Jason Mraz Good Vibes Tour Band
Jason Mraz – vocals & acoustic guitar
Molly Miller — lead guitar
Eric Hinojosa — keyboards
Michael Leroy Bram — backing vocals & drums
Andre De Santanna — bass
Toca Rivera — backing vocals & percussion
Mai Bloomfield — backing vocals, cello & tiny piano, also of Raining Jane
Becky Gebhardt — sitar & bass, also of Raining Jane
Chaska Potter –– backing vocals & multiple instruments, also of Raining Jane
Mona Tavakoli — backing vocals & percussion, also of Raining Jane
Jason Mraz – Always Charming, Ever Evolving
There is an undeniable loveliness to Mraz’ music that is compounded by a sense of awe when being fire-hosed by his rapped lyrics such as in his “Curbside Prophet / The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)” medley (both from his first album).
I played that album, Waiting For My Rocket to Come, to pieces back in the day, and I love those songs so much — their joy, their complexity, their alternating and sometimes simultaneous levity and darkness. This album has the distinction of being the only album I’d played in my car while driving with my mom where she asked who it was so she could buy it (so KUDOS Jason Mraz. Bridge those generations!). I’m sure it was the innate and overall consistent positivity she was attracted to.
So I missed “I’ll Do Anything”, “You and I Both”, and “Absolute Zero”. Okay yeah, the last of those is about some hard deep heartbreak, so I get why it wasn’t included on the Good Vibes Tour (Jason himself years later made light of its melodrama in the video for “Absolute Zero”, but the song is an all-time favorite nonetheless; been there).
And having recently lost my truck-dog-par-excellence, I missed too the moment in that album’s “Curbside Prophet” lyrics, where singing along I always rename his canine companion to my own passed girl’s name, Emma…
I got Elsa the dog who exceeds my limitation
I say, “I like your style, crazy pound pup!
You need a ride?
Well come on, girl, hop in the truck!”
… but that’s okay …
Here Jason medley’d, and encouraged crowd participation, and played with the lyrics and forms of “Curbside Prophet” and “The Remedy” — the two songs that back in the day had introduced and showcased for the world the prowess of his word-smithing and rapping skills — in a way that made seeing him perform them live exciting, unexpected, and as Ms. Lecaro found him, whimsically charming.
As only fans that have been seeing him live over the past decade and a half will know, Mr. Mraz expertly brings to each tour and perhaps to each performance, fresh lyrics, fresh licks, fresh weaving, and fresh twists. I’ve been missing out. #DiscoverRediscover
I had seen him live once before, in Los Angeles, 2003, on a first (and last) date. The man was “Mraz’ manager”, and we had met online. We met for drinks and I guess he thought it went well, so he invited me to Jason’s concert that night at The Wiltern. I hadn’t yet heard of Jason Mraz, per se, but hey, free concert. I made it clear I couldn’t stay till the end because I had a plane to catch that night for a business trip — but then I missed the plane — and not because of the company.
[Tip to online daters — don’t show up in a track suit and dominate the conversation with bragging and misogyny. And if you do, stop being surprised when your date takes advantage of your bragged about perks and then jettisons.]
That date may have left a bitter taste in my mouth, but instantly, I was a forever fan of Jason Mraz. And that’s what seeing supremely talented musicians perform live can do to you.
Jason Mraz Weaves a Rainbow of Romance
This time, I sat closely next to a good person I have loved, and listened to lyrics from Know., like “Unlonely”…
When the table’s set for two
And there’s nobody with you
Seeing movies by yourself
Let me be your someone else
If you’re spending time alone
If it’s just you and your phone
Taking pictures of yourself
Baby, maybe I can help
It could be love
We could be homies
I could make you unlonely
…and “Making It Up“…
Yeah, we’re making it up, we’re making it all up
It’s the only way to get through
‘Cause life’s so hard but life’s alright
Because I’m here with you tonight
Making it up, making it all up
The question I’ll ask at the end of my days
Is what did I give and what will I take
There’s only one answer that matters
Even if your heart and your dreams have been shattered
Whatever you want, whatever you are after
Love is still the answer
…and “Might as Well Dance”…
We’ve got nothing to lose
Might as well hold hands
Yeah, we’re already fools
So we might as well dance
We got nothing prove
Might as well take off our pants, and jacket
We cuddled up a little closer, and were treated to three more of Jason’s four biggest U.S. hits (#3 of the four being “The Remedy”) — more sweet wedding song sing-alongs, “I’m Yours” and “Lucky” (#1 and #4, from We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things., 2008),…
I’m lucky I’m in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again
I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not, and who I am
But Mraz finished the show with his (currently) eighth biggest U.S. hit “Have It All”, from his 2018 album release, Know., and ultimately its epic platonic-love prayer shaped well what my de facto date and I want from and for each other. We sent each other home with an affectionate hug, good vibes, and a promise to get together again soon.
Lovely. And perfect.