Review: Mraz returns to Waikiki with ‘Love’ to share
REVIEW BY JACQUELYN M. CARBERRY / firstname.lastname@example.org
Love is a favorite topic of Jason Mraz’s to sing about, with his latest full-length album, “Love is a Four Letter Word,” devoted to the subject. It’s not just romantic love Mraz croons about, but love of humanity and spiritual love as well, and all done in an accessible way by the likeable singer-songwriter.
Mraz and his ex-fiancee, Tristan Prettyman, broke up shortly before the making of “Love is a Four Letter Word,” which is his fourth studio album. The break-up gave the singer-songwriter fresh, new material to delve into — but this is a man far from bitter about love going sour. Instead, this is a man who earnestly sings “I won’t Give Up” in the melodic lead single off the album.
Love is a subject he can’t veer away from in concerts, and a Mraz concert merely puts the spotlight on his infatuation with the subject. At his show at Waikiki Shell on Sunday, July 1, the singer encouraged the audience to go home and “love something up” after the show.
“I won’t be offended if you do a really nasty dance,” added a mischievous Mraz during the introduction to “Butterfly,” off of 2008’s “We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.”
The crowd was happy to oblige Mraz with dancing to a different song. Couples danced sweetly in the aisles to Mraz’s sentimental breakthrough ballad, “I’m Yours,” with the audience singing the chorus at Mraz’s encouragement. Mraz told his audience early on to leave their inhibitions at the door, asking of them to engage in an “expression session.”
“This is the place to embarrass yourself,” he said.” Be weird, and crazy, and make awkward sounds.”
The crowd embraced his anything-goes attitude, keeping up the energy level from the beginning through the end of the show. Dressed simply in a faded red polo shirt and alternately sipping from a mug and bottle of red wine, Mraz showed a flair for stage patter, easily chatting up the crowd and entertaining them with stories before diving into songs, or ad-libbing material and scatting through others.
The Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter is in the midst of his “Love is a Four Letter Word” tour, kicking off the American leg with his Waikiki Shell performance. Special guest Christina Perri will serve as Mraz’s opening act for the remainder of the North American shows, but the Honolulu concert featured a special opening act. A singer named John O. of Aurora, Colo., was filmed singing two songs for the new TV show “Opening Act,” set to premiere on E! on July 9. In the show, previously undiscovered singers have five days to prepare and open up a show for a major talent. In this case, Mraz was the featured artist.
The mellow and uplifting vibe that is a signature of Mraz’s was apparent in the opening act as well. Mraz was more than happy to share the spotlight with John O, bringing the new talent up on stage for “The Freedom Song,” with both singers engaging in a bit of call-and-response with the audience. He joined Mraz for “I’m Yours,” as well.
But it wasn’t just the most well-known songs in Mraz’s catalogue that were well-received at the Shell. Also getting many whoops and hollers were “Frank D. Fixer,” “The World as I See It” and “Living in the Moment.” All can be found on “Love is a Four Letter Word,” which Mraz will continue on tour in support of until Dec. 1, when he’ll perform at the O2 Arena in London.