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February 22, 2024

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Musician Jason Mraz mesmerizes a massive Michigan audience

When Jason Mraz greets his fans with his repertoire of breezy and beautiful pop songs, he tells his audience, “Don’t ever let your mind stop you from having a good time.”

For the audience at Mraz’s Sept. 16 show at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich., this was hardly an issue. Throughout Mraz’s 90-minute set, the audience gladly got into the groove along with Mraz and his band, which included an impressive horn section, the Grooveline Horns.

Looking sharp in his button-down shirt, skin-tight jeans and ubiquitous brimmed hat, Mraz charmed the audience with a mix of songs mainly from his 2008 release, “We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things,” as well as new songs he plans to include on his upcoming 2011 album.

Mraz had strong banter with the crowd, frequently addressing them between songs. In the opening moments of the show, he took to the stage with a short song which worked “Ypsilanti” into the rhyme scheme.

During the sensual “Not So Usual,” he enlisted the help of a young woman in the audience to dance with him and was clearly taken aback by her engaging moves, commenting after the dance that it felt “naughty.” During his encore he also brought up one male and one female audience member to hype the crowd.

Even though Mraz has a strong voice that allows him to perform his songs as good as, if not better than, they sound on his albums, he uses his shows to bring audiences unique takes on his hits. For “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry),” he changed the song from the familiar pop-rock radio hit to a slower, reggae-tinged sing-along. During “Lucky,” originally sung with Colbie Caillat, he asked the female audience members and men with effeminate voices to sing Caillat’s part and added a Spanish chorus (which he jokingly referred to as Japanese).

During songs such as “Butterfly,” “The Dynamo of Volition” and the new song “San Disco Reggaefornia,” Mraz had the audience on their feet and dancing as he played his guitar and danced with the crowd.

When Mraz slowed the pace for songs such as “A Beautiful Mess” and new songs “They Shaped My Life” and “How Does It Feel?” he still managed to perform with such charisma and emotion that he had the audience in the palm of his hand. Dedicating “How Does It Feel?” to any future children he may have and “They Shaped My Life” to the various characters he encountered in his life that influenced him (including someone who beat him up in seventh grade), he made it clear that he didn’t just write laid-back radio hits.

Yet, those radio hits made him a star, and when Mraz began to sing one of the biggest songs of the last decade, “I’m Yours,” the audience went into a screaming frenzy. It would not be a stretch to say that every audience member knew and sang along with every lyric. It created a major bonding moment for the crowd, which lasted until the very end of the show, when Mraz performed a cover of the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love.”

Mraz may be a relaxed man, but that doesn’t mean he slacks off in his performances. He dedicates all he has into entertaining his audience, and, judging by positive murmurs of exiting crowd members after the show, they were certainly impressed.

Another impressive part of Mraz’s show was the stage itself. Since Mraz prides himself on environmentalism, the background was composed of plastic water bottles that were transformed into a beautiful light display through a process he referred to as “up-cycling.” Throughout the show, vivid color schemes as well as lyrics and song titles would light up behind Mraz and his band.

When Mraz performed at Anderson Arena in 2005, he was not as well-known as he is now, and his stage was not as elaborate. However, in those five years he has not lost his flair for performing and no matter the size of the crowd or the familiarity of his songs, he makes his shows a fun time for audience members.

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