Sorry, I can’t hear you with all the Mraz going on.

Also guest blogging at Backseat Radio: Remembering Damien Rice.

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Event: Jazon Mraz @ concert
Date: March 4, 2009 (Wednesday)
Venue: Stadium Negara, Malaysia

Jason Mraz. Mr A-Z. The curbside prophet. The geek in the pink. The wizard of ooh’s and ah’s and fa-la-la’s. Whatever you may.

I have already expected his concert to not be a disappointment from the reviews I got from friends who have gone to his concert overseas. None of them were let down. One of them was even converted. So, there was no second-thinking when it was announced that he would be performing in Malaysia (finally, someone who cares enough to swing by Malaysia instead of Singapore). Plans were made on who should go with who and which seats should be taken for the best view.

That evening I barely made it in time, no thanks to a certain someone living in Bandar Utama, and a boss who decided it was time to lecture the staff on ‘challenges’ and ‘career’ 15 minutes before I have to leave the office. The KL traffic was kind that day though, and we managed to arrive on the 8PM dote. I even had time to have one cigarette for dinner – a real fully tobacco filled Dunhill Menthol Light cigarette, honest!

The crowd was wild as we made our way to the seats. Practically everyone in the stadium – 9,000 strong – was screaming and cheering at the top of the lungs. As we took our RM168 seats (way up there, one of them ‘elevated’ ones, heh), Jason Mraz greeted the insane audience and launched into a natural opening of Make it Mine. With him was his own brass band, dressed in the Malaysian football team jerseys, which I thought was a cute gesture.

I told myself that I would go see Jason Mraz live, the same reason I would like to see John Mayer and Damien Rice live for their live improvisation of opposite polar ends. However, Jason Mraz is not like the latter two. He did not have much improvisation. In fact, his voice was so flawless he sounded exactly like how he would in his studio albums. Not that it is a bad thing; I love performers who can sing live, and by singing the way it is in the albums he has enabled fans to sing along entirely to radio hit songs like The Remedy, I’m Yours and You and I Both. Fans would have a problem following if he had flowered up his performances. By playing accordingly, he could just set his guitar down, sit at the edge of the stage and watch us performing for him.

Saying he is a charmer is already an understatement, but when he seamlessly launched into Oasis’ Wonderwall medleying with The Remedy, I loved him even more. If you have known me before this, you would know that is my all-time favourite song, and to have him sneak an attack like that, I could not help smiling like a silly fangirl.

Mraz asked the crowd if anyone was here with their best friend that they have been crushing on for a long time. And I remember him asking the same question (though not in the exact same words) in Tonight, Not Again: Live at The Eagles Ballroom before performing his old track No Doubling Back. That night, he played something new, which everyone would have more likely heard of instead – If It Kills Me.

Here on end began his trend of ballads: Life is Wonderful, Live High, and my favourite song off We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, A Beautiful Mess. But, judging from the location I was watching his concert, I could not quite feel the impact of the song I would usually feel listening via headphones. It was as if I was too far back, and no matter how still I sat and how attentively I listened, I could not grasp it well enough. The song did not move me to tears, but it will always be something nice to hear your most loved song live. I guess it just suggests that this is just what happiness is.

Mraz also performed songs that would get even the ones who were conscious of their image to start dancing: The cheeky Geek in the Pink off Mr A-Z, and from his newest album, the wordplaying extraordinaire The Dynamo of Volition – in which he attempted the crowd to do some dorky dance moves of sending 9,000 high-fives his way – and the brass-filled Butterfly.

Now, it would be a self-convicted Mee-Rah-Zee sin if he did not perform Lucky. So, after a quick joint at the back (hey, it could be possible), he emerged with a I heart KL T-shirt and was ready to perform the duet with the Taiwanese-Malaysian singer, Penny Tai.

“Maybe she isn’t real, maybe I made her up and she’s all in my head,” Mraz joked when Penny failed to come up  on stage in time for the first verse. And, Mraz, I wished she has been all in your head as well. Mraz went ahead with the song and had an awesome duet with the crowd, before Penny showed up and ruined the rest of the song, and trust me, I bet everyone in the crowd thought the same thing too because I could feel a heavy ‘wtf’ in the air. There was no chemistry and she seemed to be overdoing her vocals, which was not good in the first place. Throughout the set, I was hoping Colbie Caillat would burst through the back of the stadium and reclaim her duet with Mraz. Sadly that did not happen. Heck, I would have the 9,000 dueting with Mraz, if I could.

Did he put on a great show? Yes, pretty much. There are some musicians who seem to be conceived on stage, and Mraz is one of them. Everyone in the stadium that night was smittened by him. (Well, perhaps not that one guy sitting one row in front of me – he seemed to be sulking throughout the concert, as if Mraz single-handedly stole his concert set that night).

But I bet even Mraz knew he left us hanging when he provided only a one and a half hour’s concert, and clumsily wrapped things up with Butterfly. It was a very upbeat song, and to just finish things off with it, after only one and a half hour, it was like working a man into a very close pre-climax and then say no.

And it was probably not fun either to sit at the back. Yes, the view was not bad up there, but see, I have a problem sitting at concerts. Half of the time I was not sure what I was doing wrong. You wanted to stand up, but you do not know if the guys behind you will tsk at you. You wanted to dance to the song, but moving only your upper body part seems a little retarded. I would love to join the floor crowd, but with my height, it would probably be a worse idea, and I might go home smelling like everyone but myself (circa 2004 Linkin Park in Singapore).

Mraz came and he delivered 100%. He danced, he sang and he stole things – mostly hearts. It was quite an appropriate kind of entertainment you would look for during a midweek madness. It would have been lovelier if he had performed in a more intimate set with a smaller crowd, maybe No Black Tie or Laundry Bar like Colbie Caillat, but I guess it would be a problem when you are so famous with such a strong fanbase. Either way, Malaysia still loves you. Wherever you choose next time, the 9,000 strong will come a-screaming.

* Bah, pictures from a 2.0MP camera phone. I am not getting better with this, am I? Heh.

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12 Responses to “Sorry, I can’t hear you with all the Mraz going on.”

  1. najwa Says:

    i just wish da show was longer..
    first time in malaysia he shudve sang 20 songs at least..come on..13 songs??? dats 2 short..
    ive been watching his videos on youtube 4 the past how many years, n i waited 4 him 2 come 2 malaysia n he only sang 13 songs..
    i wish he sang, plane,wordplay,so unusual,coyotes,mr.curiosity,at last/sleep all day,did you get my message,song for a friend..but wateva it is he still rock the nite n the crowd was fantabulous!

  2. spacefan Says:

    I enjoyed reading your review, thanks for posting it!

    I wrote one about his show in Singapore on March 5. Hope you can drop by. 🙂

  3. Reta Says:

    awesome review! It’s always nice to read a good review free of grammatical errors. Gua.com.my’s one nearly had me choke on my maggi mee.

  4. tiki Says:

    I love your review. And I share your sentiment on his performance. Mraz is the coolest geek in the pink. And Penny Tai was a total fail. I would’ve prefered Mraz&us duet instead. When he went off halfway to change the shirt, I was thinking.. wtf?? Are we on to the encore already? It felt short, but it was only later when I realised he had actually played 13 good solid songs, and yet there’s just so many more other songs that I wished he had performed as well. Overall, it was a fantastic show, one of the best I’ve been to and I came out loving him even more.

  5. mista_amin Says:

    gosh..
    i couldnt make it there.
    but i guess u n vernadium’s review would be enough.
    hehe

  6. Celeste Says:

    najwa: well, if that’s the case, i’d like front row seats to see sigur ros and john mayer. heh. beggars can’t be choosers. it is already good enough mraz wanted to stop by malaysia for a full blown concert.

    spacefan: thanks for stopping by. i’ve stopped by yours and dropped a comment there.

    reta: thanks reta. it’s always good to know i’m free of grammatical errors. used to have a big problem with it. :]

    tiki: thanks for stopping by, tiki. yea, i wondered if the organisers were at the backstage telling mraz to cut it short. that would explain why the concert seemed to be hanging in midair when it ended. heh.

    mista_amin: ah, i guess it is always better to be sitting in your cooler bedroom and reading reviews of those who had suffered the dull heat at the stadium. heh.
    awesome concert, though. too bad you missed it. 😛
    next stop: coldplay.

  7. mista_amin Says:

    hehe.
    being cynical ya?
    im stuck here in Perlis right now and so powerless to go to kl.
    are u seriously going to coldplay?
    u r so damn lucky dear.

    p/s: can i order coldplay tour tshirt from u? plz say yes..pretty plz

  8. Celeste Says:

    heh, i will try. not sure if they are setting up booths like the one my friends went to in brisbane, australia. i will try, but don’t hold your breath.

  9. mista_amin Says:

    make it happen babe!!!
    pretty plz..
    btw i wear M-size shirt.hehe 🙂

  10. Tom McRae Says:

    Jason Mraz is a creative genius. His music cannot be defined by a single category. His duet with Colby Calliet is lovely and I hope they do an entire record together someday. Thank you Mr. Mraz, you are an inspired poet and a charming live act.

  11. mista amin Says:

    -out of topic-

    wishing u all da best for coldplay’s concert.
    yet, jealousy is spreading through my spine.
    hehe

  12. Onward the Prospekt’s March. « Small Time Traveller Says:

    […] may have gone on for a mere two hours, but it felt like forever. Remember in my Jason Mraz concert review I said he was one who was conceived on stage, well, Coldplay is the one giving birth to Mraz. They […]

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