Swear I'm not Paul: Review: Jason Mraz, The Academy, Dublin, 9 April 2009

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Review: Jason Mraz, The Academy, Dublin, 9 April 2009

Let me get this out in the open, right from the start: I never expected Jason Mraz to be so funky live. Nor did I realise his band were this excellent. When he released We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things as well as three acoustic EPs of the same songs last year, I preferred the rawness of the EPs. They were Jason at his best, or so I thought.

Jason Mraz with a backing band, this backing band, is him at his best. He thrives in this situation. The brass trio are phenomenal and really bring the songs out to their fullest. The show opened with the bluesy 'Make It Mine', which immediately set the tone for the entire evening. 'Only Human' started without the brass section, but when they arrived back halfway through it totally changed the song. It became funky and bouncy. Their absence really shows what they bring to the music.

A cover of Steely Dan's 'Peg' was an unexpected highlight, 'Unfold' featured an excellent solo from Carlos, and the extended jamming really got the crowd dancing. Yes, an Irish crowd dancing at a gig. Usually they're content to chat over the band playing, but not tonight. This was probably the most appreciative crowd I've ever seen and really got into every song. 'Lucky' featured support act Marit Larsen (formerly of Norweigan popsters M2M) on vocals, and she did a great job accompanying Jason.

'Live High' was another highlight, with the brass band disappearing and then reappearing up beside me on the balcony, much to the shock of the people downstairs! The crowd also went mental for radio-hit 'I'm Yours', and their singing nearly drowned out Jason and the band. The song had a nice little Bob Marley '3 Little Birds' interpolation too which I really enjoyed. Jason also took the opportunity to use a polaroid camera to take photos of the band, the crowd and himself. These photos were then thrown out to some lucky crowd members, including one of Jason drinking a Guinness, which was brought to him midway during the song by Marit Larsen.

The instrumental 'Copchase' was delightful, and the encore of 'Never Too Late', singalong classic 'Life is Wonderful' and 'Butterfly' ended the night perfectly. However, 'I'm Yours' wasn't the biggest highlight of the show. Instead that was 'The Dynamo of Volition' with its "high fives/low dough/high ten" chorus that involved a lot of audience participation, and was so much fun. Usually audience participation is a horrendous, laboured activity, but not with Jason's instruction and his funky jams. Perfect.

I think I've just recovered from it now. Thank God the pubs were closed on Friday, or we'd all still be buzzing now. I think I still am a little actually.

'I'm Yours':

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