Jason Mraz – Civic Theatre November 15, 2011

It was Mraz-mania at Auckland’s Civic Theatre as a full house of mostly-female fans swooned to two and a half hours of acoustic folk-rock.

Your intrepid reporter arrived at the Civic just after 9pm, due to a previous commitment, and found the audience completely charmed by the Virginia-born entertainer. Mraz had already been on stage for about an hour, accompanied by percussionist/harmony singer Toca Rivera. Mraz, dressed in baggy grey slacks and a non-descript green-grey t-shirt, was without his trademark hat, his longish brown hair parted down the middle. He looked every part the 70’s singer-songwriter, and sounded like one as well. I was reminded of journeymen folkies like Kenny Rankin, Shawn Phillips and Dan Fogelberg.

I arrived just in time to hear Love For A Child from Mraz’s 2008 album We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things. From there it was Mr. Curiosity from 2005’s Mr. A-Z, with Mraz whipping out his operatic falsetto near the end of the tune. Then after a lengthy into detailing a request made much earlier, Jason covered New Zealand band Goodshirt’s hit, Sophie, much to the delight of the already-rapturous crowd. From there he segued into Plane and Only Human.

Then it was time for a couple of new songs. Sail Away is a somewhat goofy song about underwater love that wound up with Mraz and the audience singing their best whale songs.  Then came the more serious The Woman I Love.  After A Beautiful Mess came another new tune. I Won’t Give Up was one of the emotional highlights of the evening with Toca chiming in with some lovely harmonies.  The final song of the regular set was Butterfly, driven by Rivera’s Latin-tinged percussion and the crowd clapping along.

Jason Mraz returned to the stage alone with another new song, When We Die, which found him and the audience singing “you are loved” to each other. With Rivera back on stage, came a brief snippet of The Beatles’ Cry For No One before launching into I’m Yours. More clapping and singing ensued as the duo closed up shop for good with Life Is Wonderful.

No doubt about it, Jason Mraz is a natural performer. He’s got a smooth, easy-to-listen-to voice and an easy-going stage manner that endears himself to his audience, particularly the female contingency. They all left the venue smiling after spending 150 minutes in the company of the object of their affection.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to Jason Mraz perform Goodshirt’s Sophie at the Civic Theatre: