Jason Mraz and Robert Francis played to an enthusiastic crowd Thursday night at the Eastern Michigan Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, MI. Backed by a talented band, Francis started the show off right with a set that was both charismatic and emotional, which included several of his better known songs, including “Junebug” and “Darkness”, revealing on more than one occasion his similarities to many of the most prominent alternative singer-songwriters of today, such as Ryan Adams and Glen Hansard of ‘The Swell Season’. Francis also played several new songs, during one of which he played a guitar solo that brought the crowd to its feet. With memorable melodies and relatable lyrics, Francis captivated the crowd for the entirety of his set.
Mraz came on shortly after, starting off with a new song, which he dedicated particularly to those in the past, but to those in the present as well. With lyrics that included “And I’m so grateful as can be / ‘Cause I get to play in Ypsilanti”-sending the crowd into a roar-Mraz started the show off in grand fashion as he soulfully played a Fender Telecaster. A few songs later, he invited a female member of the crowd to join him on stage to dance together as he sang a tango-infused Spanish song, entirely entertaining the crowd. He then followed it up with “Sleeping to Dream”, a track he dedicated to the child he has yet to have, during which the crowd was utterly silent. Backed by an brilliant band that included a captivating horns section, Mraz demonstrated his incredible vocals on more than one occasion as he played reworked versions of many of this songs. Giving credit to one of his sound engineers, Mraz revealed that the entire back portion stage was composed of previously-used two-liter bottles in an effort to be more environmentally conscious. Mraz also played a soulful version of “Coyotes”, blending a variety of different styles, including rock, reggae, and jazz in a fluid combination; however the most incredible moment of the night came during that song when Mraz sang notes that most had perviously believed only a female opera singer could hit. Mraz also played a reggae version of his first hit, “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)”, keeping the song sounding refreshingly different without losing the melodic qualities that made it a hit in the first place. Finally, Mraz played a three song encore, the second of which included his most popular hit, “I’m Yours”, as well as a song that he essentially rapped while two members of the audience danced on each edge of the stage, ending the show on an incredibly memorable note that left the crowd on its feet long after he left the stage.
Overall, Mraz demonstrated not only his immeasurable talent as a musician, but also his ability to interact with the crowd in a remarkably relatable manner, a talent that is rarely found in many of today’s most popular musicians. With Francis starting the show off right, Mraz was more than able to keep the crowd both entertained and engaged during the entirety of his hour and half set.
So good. And so many guests-Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Drake, D12, Young Jeezy, and Trick Trick. Just unreal. I’ll post a review sometime tomorrow, as well as hopefully some pics!