June 19, 2012 00:00
By Manta Klangboonkrong
The long-overdue singer-songwriter packs Impact for a shimmering show
Jason Mraz finally satisfied his Bangkok fans’ stalled cravings with a two-hour Thai debut concert on Saturday, packing Impact Arena with youngsters seemingly outfitted for a weekend in Hua Hin – denim cut-offs, striped T-shirts, sandals and plenty of straw hats.
The word “satisfied” sells the show short, though. The turnout was overwhelming and the mostly Thai fans were delirious with the string of hits, fine showmanship and a solid band, capped by Mraz’s great voice, heard half a year behind schedule thanks to the floods of 2011.
Mraz was wearing a straw hat too when he appeared onstage at 8.30, shoeless, to deafening cheers. With just an acoustic guitar he opened the proceedings with “93 Million Miles” and “The World as I See It” from his second album, “Love is a Four-letter Word”, as footage of penguins, waterfalls and Planet Earth filled the jumbo screens,
“Sawadee krub!” he called out. “Thanks so much for inviting me tonight.” The band kicked into the fast-paced “The Dynamo of Volition”.
“Come on everybody, put your hands up!” Mraz shouted. “This isn’t television – I can see you!” The track, heavy with hip-hop flair, got the crowd on its feet, but the dance-floor mood evaporated with a sequence of more moderately paced ballads – “Bella Luna”, “Everything is Sound”, “The Freedom Song” and “Only Human”.
Mraz teamed up with the groups’ new singer-violinist, Merritt Lear, for the sugary love songs “Be Honest” and “Lucky”, then switched to the funkier “Make It Mine” and “Frank D Fixer”, which he dedicated to his grandfather.
Alone onstage, Mraz sat at the piano and belted out “Mr Curiosity”, displaying skilled singing with one verse in tenor.
“Marry me!” a suitably impressed fan screamed out. “You’re my saint!” shouted another.
The show continued with the folk ballads “The Woman I Love”, “Beautiful Mess”, “Unfold”, “I Won’t Give Up” and “Butterfly”. The encore entailed his global hit “You and I Both” as well as “I’m Coming Over”, “Living in the Moment” and the song most fans were waiting for, “I’m Yours”.
For the most part the concert showed Mraz’s broad musical influences, from folk and country to funk, hip-hop and even a little gospel and scat. It gave the impression he’s constantly searching for a style of his own, but the variety makes for a highly entertaining live performance.
Considering that most of his songs are mid-tempo, having so many flavours of sound makes his repertoire more interesting, riveting the attention throughout the show.
Besides his talent on a range of instruments, Mraz is a fine singer, with remarkable resonance and clarity in his voice – even after two hours of non-stop singing.