Jason “Mr. A-Z” Mraz was in town last night singing, dancing and stealing his way into Madison’s heart. Part reggae, part pop, part rock star, Mraz pulled off a concert in the Alliant Energy Center Sunday that had fans bopping their heads to the beat and attempting to sing along with his be-bops and doo-dahs.
At first sight, the Center hardly seemed the perfect venue for a rock concert. The huge ring was curtained off halfway at center court, creating an awkward arrangement between the stage and the huge black curtain siphoning off half the arena. Hundreds of fans sat in seats facing the floor, where hundred of other fans stood crowded and on tip-toes to catch a glimpse of the bands. However, any problems in location quickly disappeared by the talent and amazing live performances of the acts.
The concert opened with Anya Marina, who performed her acoustic, almost Feist-like songs to please the excited crowd. She also inserted a witty anecdote of her attempts to explain the complexity of drunk dialing to her philosopher-Russian mother. Insert a half-hour wait, classic ’80s hits included.
After a short introduction from a popcorn-munching Mraz, the Plain White T’s entered. This rock group definitely got the crowd rocking as the anticipation built towards Mraz’s act. The group performed all of their most well-known hits, including “Hey There Delilah,” “Our Time Now,” and “Hate (I Really Don’t Like You).” They even encouraged some group participation, motivating the crowd to number off to their latest (and unnaturally sweetest) hit “1, 2, 3, 4.”
Jason Mraz, however, completely transformed the Alliant Energy Center into a rocking good time. Along with a microphone and his guitar, Mraz brought a backup line of drums, trumpet and trombone worthy of “American Bandstand.” Then, in classic acoustic guitar-centered and vocal range style, Mraz proved to make his one and a half hour performance worthwhile, decked out in hat, nerdy glasses, scruff and all.
Mraz began with a reggae song to show off his vocal range and scatting ability. He continued to show his vocal talent throughout the show, creating a great live performance show that all members of his diverse audience could enjoy. Even playing his most popular hits such as “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)” and “I’m Yours,” Mraz managed to insert some impromptu jamming, making the concert his own and charming the crowd.
Also, his collaborative song “Lucky” featuring Colbie Caillait brought Anya Marina back on stage again, as well as jokes. “I have a gift for you,” he joked as he presented her with another microphone. “It’s what you’ve always wanted. Long, slender, lots people have created some trouble with that.” The simply sweet song lost none of its charm with a different collaborative artist though, to Marina’s credit.
Like the Plain White T’s before him, Mraz encouraged crowd participation. Singing along with the crowd, the performance invited pure fun and enjoyment from everyone. The various band members got the crowd clapping to the beat, thus renovating “The Remedy.” He even taught the crowd a lesson in scatting by inviting audience members to imitate his doo-bops in low and high tones.
After allowing the band a chance to rock the crowd with their remarkable instrumentals, Mraz returned to sing solo with his acoustic guitar, wowing the crowd with his vocals. He then finished the show with a rocking version of “Butterfly,” which sent the audience dancing and humming for the rest of the night.
Overall, for a seemingly chill, acoustic, solo artist, Mraz inspired an amazing live performance that surpassed the enjoyable opening acts and truly rocked the diverse crowd. Anyone interested in seeing his concerts (or Scatting 101?) would definitely be delighted.