Jason Mraz - Manchester Academy 2 - 5.3.06
Just a few days ago Mraz was supporting James Blunt at 3 sold out dates at the Manchester Apollo, but thank god that for the time being the Blunt affect hasn't taken place just yet. Surveying the sold out Academy 2 it's clear that this is strictly the Mraz devotees who over the past few years have found out about his genius through word of mouth alone...it also helps that his live shows have elevated him above mere singers-songwriter and taken the genre into something approaching a performance rather than a conventional for the terminally miserable and downtrodden that songwriters often fall into.
Designer Magazine have seen Mraz in many guises from his first show at Academy 3 with a full band through to his last headline Manchester appearance at Life Cafe with just Toco for company. Tonight the format is the latter with the double act, the word play and the interplay between Mraz and Toco fulfilling all the rules of the straightman / funnyman relationship of the Two Ronnies, Little and Large and Cannon and Ball. In many ways Mraz success is down to meeting Toco in a cafe bar early on in his career for as much as the songs are spirited affairs it's the personalities that shine through that elevate this above being just another gig - it's a true interaction between the crowd which lead Designer Magazine to call Mraz the Robbie Williams of singer songwriting after his first UK tour.
With new album "Mr A-Z released in the UK last month much of tonight’s
set draws from it with "Wordplay", "Geek In The Pink" and "Mr Curiosity"
being the standout moments, The latter stretches Mraz's vocal talents to
the max as he manages to take on the falsetto choir section from the recorded
version in a live solo take and pulls it off with grace and style. For
those who fell in love with Mraz on his debut "Waiting For My Rocket To
Come" he throws in "Curbside Prophet", "Remedy" and "You & I Both"
with interpolations of Oasis and Bob Marley (who gets both English and
renditions of "One Love").
Mraz, along with UK songwriters such as Nizlopi and Gary Dunne, is starting to make the genre interesting again and take it back from the James Blunt and KT Tunstalls of the world and with just the vocals, guitar and Toco's inventive percussion he held the crowd's attention for a strong one and a half hour set. It bodes extremely well for the full band shows later this year where the songs will be embellished to the recorded versions we all know and love. There's no doubt that as a performer or songwriter Mraz shines above all the competition
Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride www.karenmcbride.com
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