So last night, I went to another show.
If I was to give you clues as to the show, I would probably say:
1) The performer absolutely wails on guitar.
2) The performer has probably the most pure voice you’ll ever hear. Able to leap and soar in ways uncommon in contemporary music.
3) The performer has some of the best grasp of wordplay this side of Speechwriters LLC.
Of course, by the third clue – and of course the title of the post – you would know that I’m talking about the one and only Jason Mraz. Last night, Jason performed at the Tivoli, along with opening acts Hayley Sales and Gregory Page. And man, was it a killer night.
Hayley Sales belted out and awesome set at the Tivoli in Brisbane
Hayley Sales opened up the night, at about 8pm. This was a tough slot, as most people there – me included – had not heard Hayley before, and a number of people seemed impatient to jump straight to Jason’s slot. So when Hayley started out with her first tune, the floor wasn’t exactly what you’d call packed. That all changed when her first chords struck out on the guitar.
(Aside: I have to apologise here. I didn’t manage to make notes for last night, as I did with my Jack Johnson recap, so I’m not 100% sure of the opening songs, or the order. I’m pretty sure that she started out with Jailcell Mind, but if anyone else was there feel free to correct me. Throughout this entire entry, I’m sure.)
Hayley has one of the most powerful voices I think I’ve heard in years. There’s a real versatility to it as well; one minute it can be a husky whisper, sexy as all hell… the next a powerful, intimidating force. She also has this really fun vibe up on stage; I think that while most people were a bit skeptical at first of this lone girl up on stage, after a few minutes under her sunny smile and contagious grooves, you couldn’t help but get into the joy of the set.
Hayley didn’t perform the entire set alone though. She called up Toca Rivera – the percussionist/singer from Jason’s band – to perform with her for about 3 or so songs. And she also called up Jason to finish the set, with an absolutely amazing performance of “Keep Driving“.
Hayley, Jason and Toca perform “Keep Driving” at the Tivoli
(Aside #2: Excuse the “phone-camera” quality pictures. They look like that because… well… they were taken with a crappy phone).
The performance of “Keep Driving” had the entire crowd singing along. And anyone who was there will be able to attest to the fact that Hayley’s closing note, held with clarity and power, was undoubtedly one of the highest notes we’ve ever heard at the Tivoli. There was a shocked silence before outrageous clapping and cheering. Nice one Hayley.
Highlights? “Jailcell Mind”, simply because it took everyone by surprise. “Keep Driving”, for that stunning last note and great interplay between Jason and Hayley. And also the cracking tune, “Only What You Want“. All in all, a great set, and someone I’ll be sure to keep an eye on in the future.
Listen. Love. Support.
Gregory Page performed perhaps one of my favourite sets at the Tivoli
Next up was Gregory Page. Now, unlike Hayley, I had actually heard of Gregory Page before. But I was unsure how his minimalist style would go down with this crowd. Gregory’s music is a strange creature; obviously there’s the well-known minimalist feel to it, but it’s a deceptive minimalism… there’s so much more going on under the surface that you sometimes feel you could drown in it.
I think some people were bewildered by Gregory, but these people were certainly in the minority, as there was a great feeling about his set. He opened with perhaps my favourite song of his, “Sleeping Dogs“. There’s a pain in this song that simply does not let you go, while at the same time an aching beauty to it. Sleeping Dogs was possibly my favourite song of the night, point-blank… all songs included.
“It’s so cold here, in my bed without my love
I cover my emotions, I’m half dead
And the hours laid as the memories still haunts me, and it’s tearing me apart
There are fireworks exploding in my heart”
– Gregory Page, “Sleeping Dogs”
Gregory Page and Jason Mraz at the Tivoli in Brisbane
Gregory also called Jason up for a tune. I learned later in the night that Gregory Page had actually given Jason Mraz his first break, when he invited Jason to open for him; and this long-time partnership was clear in their synergy that night. Truly, a great performance. There is a phone-quality vid of the performance; but I warn you: I include this here solely for those die-hard fans who need to see this kind of thing. The sound and picture quality is terrible, so skip this if you aren’t one of those die-hards. The song only actually begins in earnest around 1:00 in.
Highlights? Obviously the aforementioned “Sleeping Dogs”, and the stunning “Knife in My Chest“. While I’m sure that Gregory’s music is not for everyone, he certainly has a stalwart fan in me.
Listen. Love. Support.
Jason Mraz performed to a great crowd at the Tivoli.
By the time Jason and the full band made it onto the stage, the crowd was absolutely rabid. Launching straight into a killer rendition of “Mr Curiosity“, Jason had them eating out of his hand from the get-go. The thing that always astounds me about Jason, apart from the stunning wordplay of course, is the clarity in his voice. There is a purity there that I find hard to give a comparison point; simply because there is no comparison. This is a voice that truly can fly at the drop of a hat. And it never gets any less amazing. And Jason showed it off in fine form with this song, slipping between operatic and playful towards the end. It really was a great way to start off the set.
Jason Mraz and band at The Tivoli in Brisbane
About 3 songs in, Jason and band launched into “Cannabis College“, and of course the crowd exploded. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a live show where this song hasn’t had the entire joint jumping. Funniest point of the night? When the dude next to me leaned in to his mate – with about 30 seconds of the song left – and said to him: “This song is hilarious mate. It’s all about smoking weed!!“. Thank you, Captain Obvious, for the hilarity that ensued.
Of course, that excitement was only carried through when the obligatory, “The Remedy” made it’s appearance.
The rest of the set was, as usual, polished brilliance. From the tender rendition of “Love For A Child“, through to the duets with Hayley, and later Gregory, the night was a true conversation between artists and audience.
My friend managed to snag a few seconds of “Sleep All Day” on his phone… although it’s only 58 seconds of the song, I’ve included it below as the sound and image quality is far better than the clip I posted above; that, and also it’s simply a cracking tune that went down a storm on the night.
Again; highlights of the set? Tough to say, but if pushed I would say the following songs were standouts, for me at least:
“Mr Curiosity”, “Love For A Child”, “Tonight, Not Again“, “Sleep All Day”, “Live High” (which I posted a video of here), and the closer, “I’m Yours“, which also went into medley including Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”, and it’s refrain of, “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘coz every little thing gonna be alright!”.
It certainly seemed that, at the end of the night, everyone agreed that everything was, in fact, more than alright. It was perfection. The only thing that I was hoping for, that never transpired, would have been a performance of “The Dream Life of Rand McNally“. But hey, you can’t have everything.
Thanks Jason and Co, for sharing the night with us. It was awesome being involved.