Some smooth rhythms, funky beats, levitating tables, sing-alongs and a whole lot of laughter made this stop in the Music, Magic & Make Peace Tour with Jason Mraz more of a musical circus than your typical concert.
Starting with a booming voice over the loud speaker announcing that tonight’s show would not go on (“just kidding” of course) the night’s host Justin Kredible hit the stage. Pulling out a pink silk scarf he explained that along with making the crowd laugh he’d be doing a little magic and promptly turned the scarf into a magic wand and then back into a scarf again before introducing the first musical act the Makepeace Brothers.
The brothers’ vibrant, upbeat, almost tropical sound got the crowd swinging and swaying early in the show. They started the set with fun songs like “City Baby”, “Monkey & Lion” and the upbeat “Caroline” that was comparable to the sound of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” before slowing it down for the sweet harmonies of “Hero” that they dedicated to Canadians “who don’t always make the decisions Americans make.” The brothers ended their set on a high note with “Things Gonna Wait For Me” that featured appearances by fellow opener Bushwalla and Mraz himself attempting to blend into the background with his tambourine and dark shades.
Before exiting the stage the brothers assisted Justin Kredible with his first trick of the night, singing background while Kredible caused a table to float on stage. But the levitating table was just the first trick the comedic magic man did pulling audience members on stage, popping balloon animals and then making them reappear and taking an audience member’s ring, putting it in a hankie and then making it appear in her pocket while keeping the crowd laughing the whole time.
As the magician wrapped up the next opener, Bushwalla, took to the stage. The rapper’s style oozed 70’s funk complete with a polyester leisure suit and an afro. His backing band also dressed in 70’s attire for the occasion complete with their own funky styles and fake mustaches. One of Bushwalla’s band members, who donned a pair of dark glasses and a fake ‘stache, was none other than the night’s headliner; who though he was trying to stay in the background did make for a bit of a distraction during the already outrageous set. Belting out playful tunes like “Green Eggs & Ham” and “Gangsta” that included the line “It’s hard to be a gangsta with a basket on your bike” it took all the freaky, funky freestyler’s energy to keep the crowd’s eyes on him.
After a short break Justin Kredible returned with a couple more tricks up his sleeve. For the magician’s finale he brought a pup tent up on stage and placing a light bulb inside proceeded to make shadow puppets against it and act surprised when they seemed to have a mind of their own. But it was the crowd who was surprised as the tent busted open and Jason Mraz stepped out.
Popping on stage in an oversized woolly toque and lopsided grin Mraz started his set by thanking the crowd for showing up and waiting in line before the show in an improvised tune before launching into “Halfway Home” an song from early in his career that doesn’t show up on any of his three LP’s. After a sweet mellow intro Mraz got the crowd pumped with his next tune “The Remedy” an extended version of the singer-songwriter’s first single that included a sample of Oasis’ “Wonderwall”.
The majority of the rest of his set was made up of tunes from his upcoming release We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things set to drop on May 13. Adding to his already impressive repertoire of smooth melodies combined with witty wordplay were tunes like the sweetly melancholy “Beautiful Mess” and the calmly inspiring “Live High”. For the adorably upbeat “Lucky” a duet Mraz described as a “schmaltzy love song” he brought Torontonian singer-songwriter Leslie Pike on stage to sing the part of the song that Colbie Caillat sings on his record.
Listening attentively to the new material and singing along to the handful of past songs he managed to squeeze in “Life is Wonderful” and “Sleep All Day” and it was apparent the mixed crowd seemed willing to let Mraz guide them through his new tunes. He wrapped up with his current single “I’m Yours” and the soulful, sexy “Butterfly”.
The encore started off on a high energy note with the tune “No Stoppin’ Us” from Mraz’s debut album Waiting For My Rocket to Come. Then the openers came back on stage for “Fall Through Glass”. As the tune wrapped up the musicians froze abruptly in place into a tableau while Justin Kredible the lone non-statue on stage took Polaroid’s of the band members while introducing them to the crowd.
As the massive, high-energy number wound down all the musicians left the stage leaving Mraz alone with his guitar once again, “I thought it would be nice to end the show together as a sing-along” he said as he launched into his biggest hit “You & I Both” with all of Kool Haus on backing vocals.
As cool as the magic tricks were and as funny and charismatic as the musicians on stage were the stars that night were still the songs, from upbeat and fun to funky, witty, poignant and sweet. And in spite of all the other folks who graced the stage Mraz’s mix of verbal acrobatics, sweet melodies, funny voices and his adorable smile made you understand why he was the star of the show.
Writer: Michelle Garcia