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April 6, 2009

Concert Review: Jason Mraz, Hammersmith Apollo

Right, I'm not going to make any friends with this review on the following basis: Mr Mraz fans tend to be devotees (I should know, I'm one of them) and really, what did I expect, given that he's promoting his latest album which is more melodic than poppy.

The positives: Jason was on fine form, vocally and banter wise. He's grown as a performer and you really couldn't fault him at all for his stage presence and presentation. The band were tight. The addition of the horn section was surprisingly cool, even though (in my book) adding horns to pop music is usually the kiss of death. Not so in this case.

Okay, so shoot me now, I'm going to give the show a somewhat negative review, but get this, it's because the last show he did at the Shepherd's Bush Empire was just so much better!

It basically comes down to material. Whilst there were some upbeat tunes, like "The Dynamo of Volition", there were far too many ballads, one after the other, to keep me, personally, interested.


I feel slightly bad saying that, as, looking across the sea of adoring fans in the audience, it was pretty clear that I was one of the few that didn't have their hands in the air. Now, don't get me wrong, I love his stuff, but when you're at a Jason Mraz show, you expect more show, if you know what I mean?

And, to be honest, that's down to the latest (which isn't particularly new, per se) album. It's a more laid back, love in the sun, kind of affair. More... mushy. That's not a bad thing when you're listening to the CD and in that mood, but when you're standing in a steamy crowd of sweaty (and not very pleasant-smelling) teenagers, well, you need a little more action to keep your excitement level up.

Okay, so the show did start off well, and the encore lifted things at the end, but the bulk of the show was a little too snoozy for me. I did not pogo once!

I feel bad saying that... but, I ain't gonna lie to you about how I felt after the show! I didn't leave the venue with a smile on my face, buoyed by all the high-energy vibes. I just wanted to go home... to bed. The irony is that, with J on such great form vocally, just two or three more upbeat tunes would have turned it around for me. Oh well. Maybe I'm just getting old.


Furtheron said...

I don't know his material that well at all if I'm honest. I saw him at the Hard Rock Calling last year in Hyde Park on the support bill to Mr Clapton. On that listening though I'd agree with your assessment. He came on after Robert Randolph had ripped up the stage and before John Meyer played an excellent set and converted me to a fan of his, dashing out to get the LA Live album straight away.... Mr Mraz? I just didn't get it, loads of young ladies around swooning like crazy but I didn't like it, I'd have preferred twice as long a set from Robert R frankly.

Istvanski said...

I'll have to give this Mraz bloke a listen.

T said...

I have loved Mraz for years and I must say I was hoping for faster tracks too. Perhaps some more songs from his 1st and 2nd albums would have perfected the night. However I do think what he did was pretty amazing and left feeling high :)

Kenski said...

Hey T, thanks for stopping by (and not ranting at me for not giving the show an A+++).

I first 'discovered' Jason through some random mp3s of coffee shop gigs he was doing in San Diego. You could hear them taking orders and frothing milk in the background. Songs like "Galaxy" really grabbed my attention. I loved the guitar/congos mixed with Jason's vocals and cheekiness.

I was disappointed by the first album as I thought it was overproduced and didn't showcase the songs in the best light. I still think that playing live is where he shines as there's an audience connection... though nobody takes their clothes off anymore :-)

@Ister. Please don't. I know you. You'll hate his music and then you'll hate me :-)