It’s been about a year and a half since I last saw Mraz and I’m very grateful to be in California where he’s currently doing a mini tour with Raining Jane as his band. I caught the first night of their “rare” acoustic tour, in Santa Cruz and the crowd felt really energized to have Mraz back on the road and to have the Jane ladies back on their home turf.
Singer Chaska Potter is from Santa Cruz and mentioned that she grew up singing in the Civic Auditorium at the holidays, so this is all very full circle for her. If you saw Mraz’ last tour and loved percussionist Mona Tavakoli then good news! She’s one fourth of Raining Jane and is just as crazy and energetic as always. (Read more about how she and Jason met on his blog.) She’s also a San Jose native and gave a big shout out to the San Ho valley girls.
Low key as usual, Jason came out before the show started to chat up the audience and introduce Raining Jane. I love that he doesn’t need to make a big entrance with a spotlight or anything, he just sort of wanders out to say hey and ask people how traffic was. (It was bad. Damn those curvy mountain roads.)
Raining Jane played four songs. I don’t know what they were, but they were nice. And then they introduced Jason, who had no idea he was supposed to go on:
When he finally made it on stage he sat down on the edge of it, just him and his guitar. It’s my favorite way to hear him perform and he picked some fantastic songs for us:
(If it’s a song I haven’t heard before I’m labeling it “NEW” and making up a name for it, although he may have performed it before and I’m just out of the loop.)
- NEW – Throwback Thursday
- You and I Both
- Tonight, Not Again (For me, this was the highlight of the whole night. I haven’t heard this one in ages, it’s one of my top five favorite Mraz songs, and I’ve never heard him play it acoustic like this before. It has a whole different feel without the full swell of a band – not quite as orgasmic, but still incredible.)
After this one Mraz said, “Some of that song, I have no idea what it’s about,” which made everyone chuckle, but he continued with, “But I lose myself in it.” And then he talked about how the best songs are ones that you can lose yourself in.
- Love for a Child
And then he stood up and welcomed Raining Jane back to the stage, talking about the importance of women. And that brought us to:
- The Woman I Love
Then there was a little story about how they all met at a college event for a biannual sescatarian? Sequesterian? Vagitarian? He made up a few new words that should make it into the OED, and then they played:
- Lucky (Instead of the usual duet though, this time it was a four-way, with three of the Janes singing the female part together. He also worked a little Bell Biv Devoe (“Smack it up, flip it, rub it down!”) and Spandau Ballet (“Ah ah ah ahh ahh, I know this much is true”) in at the end.)
I love story time with Mraz, and here he treated us to one about how he plays a song writing game with some people each week. Everyone is given a word or phrase and they have to write a song including it by Sunday night. The phrase he was given: “I wish the wind would blow me”. And that gave us:
The next Mraz songwriting story: “I wrote the lyrics to this song while I was peeing. It’s true.”
- NEW – It’s Gonna Be a Good Day/Hello
Unfortunately, knowing the circumstances during which he was inspired, some of the lyrics kind of sounded like he wrote a song to his penis. (“Hello!”) And realizing this he giggled throughout the song and said, “Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned it.”
And then the avocado throwing began. Apparently a big wind knocked hundreds of avocados out of his trees, and after having a crew of friends help pick them up and take them to food banks and anywhere they could get rid of them, he still had enough to bring to Santa Cruz to share. They were very ripe and it looked like a lot of guacamole was made during the evening, sometimes on people’s clothes.
- Frank D. Fixer
- NEW – Back to the Earth (Teaching us the chorus for this one, Mraz said “We’re all gonna do do together.” And do do do we did.)
Knowing that Santa Cruz would have an environmentally responsible crowd, Mraz asked who in the audience was into composting. Then he asked a woman in the front row who had her hand up, “Would you mind taking our compost home?” And he gave her a paper bag of food scraps they had saved.” I wonder if she saved any of it.
- A Beautiful Mess
Mraz introduced the next one by saying, “I wrote this song hoping the Bee Gees would sing it with me.” If he can’t get them he should just have Hanson do it. They’re pretty much the Bee Gees of a new generation. See?
Zac Hanson even has Bee Gees hair.
He also mentioned that the song was written in Brazil, and mused on the way that people from Brazil always seem to have a Brazilian flag with them to wave around.
- Be Honest With Me
And then we had a sitar solo by Becky Who Otherwise Looked Totally Unimpressed By the Whole Event! Yay Becky!
- 93 Million Miles (with sitar!)
- Only Human
More avocado throwing
- NEW – When My Life Falls Apart/3 Little Things
More avocados. “They’re good for the gentlemen. Increase the testosterone.”
- Details in the Fabric (Love, love, love this one live. It just calms my soul to hear him singing, “Everything will be fine.” The way he sings it, so confident and reassuring, makes me think it really will be.)
- NEW – You Can Rely On Me
- I Won’t Give Up
- NEW – Take the Long Way
- I’m Yours (Like it’s never been played before, which is good, because I’m really over the radio version. Not that the live version was ever as straightforward as the radio version, but this was a completely new take on it, which I loved.)
And that was it. It was a fantastic night, a really different feel with the female band, and Mraz looked and sounded as good as ever. I hope they get back on the road this summer for a full tour so I have an excuse to travel around and see some Mraz friends and shows in other cities.
Sleeping to dream,