Sunny sentiments from Jason Mraz



National Stadium/Last Saturday

American pop singer-songwriter Jason Mraz’s National Stadium concert was so full of positivity that it felt a bit unreal.

As the concert title, Good Vibes, and multi-hued colour scheme of the performers’ get-up as well as stage backdrop would attest, there was little room for dour sentiments, grey areas or the general complexities of life. It was all sunshine and odes to love in the two-hour show, his only Asian show this year.

The bulk of the songs came from the Grammy winner’s sixth and newest album, Know, released earlier this year. Like most of his discography, they are all happy tunes – show opener Let’s See What The Night Can Do is about romance under the moonlight, Love Is Still The Answer is a mellow ballad with lyrics as literal as its title, while catchy show-closing tune Have It All is line after line of positive blessings.

The gig showed how much he has grown as an entertainer. His first concert here, at the Esplanade’s Mosaic Music Festival in 2006, was a simple, stripped-down and unplugged affair that showcased his folksy, coffee-shop crooner roots.

This time round, he had an even bigger band than in his last outing at the Star Theatre in 2014.

All-women quartet Raining Jane, his backing group of musicians and singers, as well as songwriting partners, were still there, but there were also additional players, such as a keyboardist and electric guitarist, on stage.

Mraz and Raining Jane have a well-oiled chemistry. They did not just gel musically, but also had their slightly goofy, synchronised dance moves down pat, especially on groovy songs like Might As Well Dance and Unlonely, both from Know.

The Raining Jane singers also provided the female vocals for Mraz’s famous duets, Lucky (2008), originally with Colbie Caillat, and More Than Friends (2018), which he sang with a puppet in place of original co-singer Meghan Trainor.

The audience clapped politely to many of the newer songs, but they truly came alive for Mraz’s easy-on-the-ears earlier hits like I’m Yours (2008) and The Remedy (I Won’t Worry) (2002).

Mraz, who like the rest of his band was dressed in a coverall, was in a genial mood and cracked jokes, many of them corny.

Explaining why he and his band were dressed “like mechanics”, he quipped that they were there to “fix your loneliness”.

He is no stranger to the Singapore audience, having played here several times, but this gig was his largest yet. The concert was part of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore tennis tournament and was held in one of Singapore’s largest venues for concerts.

Despite pulling in a 15,000-strong audience, it was hard not to notice the large empty pockets in the 55,000-capacity arena. They were especially evident when the fans switched on their phone torch-lights during one of his biggest hits, I Won’t Give Up (2012). Only a fraction of the stadium featured the starry night-like effects and the rest of the seats were shrouded in darkness.

Still, the sound was pleasant, at least where this reviewer was sitting, at the bottom row of the terraced seating, directly opposite the stage. Mraz’s melodic singing and the various instruments could be heard clearly.

It was almost a relief, given that past major concerts at the venue have suffered from sub-par sound.

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