Concert review: Jason Mraz lights up Bangor Waterfront

By Kaley Roberts

There are two things required at a Jason Mraz concert: A crowd full of straw fedoras and a marijuana-scented cloud hanging low over the audience. His concert Saturday night on the Bangor (Maine) Waterfront was no exception.

“Either it’s misty out there or you guys have a lot of ganja that’s getting up in the breeze,” Mraz said to the crowd as the herbal haze floated up toward the stage. Concertgoers near the stage responded with cheers of approval.

True to form, the artist himself made no attempt to hide his love for the drug. During one of his songs he sang, “You can grow anything you want, you can have anything you want, you can smoke anything you want.”

Judging by the perseverance of the fog above the crowd, some fans took the last line as permission, lighting up throughout the show.

After an opening set by Robert Francis, a stereotypically unwashed and unkempt indie rocker, the stage was reset for Mraz.

During his set, Mraz could be seen munching food from a plastic container and drinking from an ecofriendly metal water bottle.

“I eat cantaloupe during the show — it’s what I do,” Mraz said during a quick snack break. “It’s healthy.”

Chowing down on fruit wasn’t the only quirky behavior Mraz displayed on stage. Between songs, he spoke to the audience in Italian and French and introduced a few songs with a Beatles-esque British accent. At the end of the performance of “Coyotes,” he impressed the crowd with an opera-style display of his falsetto.

It was clear that Mraz was there to engage and entertain the audience while enjoying the evening himself. During sexier songs, Mraz even showed off a secret talent for salsa dancing.

Fans excited by Mraz’s hip shaking abilities were in for a treat when he brought a fan named Holly out on stage to sing and dance with him.

“Is it OK if I say sweet nothings to you in Spanish?” Mraz asked Holly before starting the song. He sang while alternating between holding the lucky girl close to him and spinning her around in circles. At one point Mraz even offered her his knee to sit on and was rewarded with a kiss on the cheek.

“Nobody put that on YouTube please, I will never hear the end of it.” Mraz said to the crowd once Holly left the stage, explaining that his girlfriend would be upset.

Mraz started the show strong with his eight-member band. The group went straight into one of his most recent radio hits, “Lucky.” Originally a duet with Colbie Caillat, the song served as a perfect opening to the show, showcasing both Mraz’s pristine vocals and the talent of his accompanists. The opener also highlighted how well Mraz and the band worked together and the fact that they were intent on having fun in front of the river.

His ensemble didn’t have an official name, but the singer referred to them as “ROTFLOL” for the night. Complete with drums, chimes, a small brass section, an accordion, keys, guitars and bass, the band served to enhance his music beyond the usually acoustic guitar sound.

Mraz understood the importance of playing crowd favorites throughout the show and planned his set list accordingly, book-ending the performance with “Lucky” and “I’m Yours” respectively and wowing the crowd with his first smash, “The Remedy,” midway through.

Concertgoers familiar only with the radio version “The Remedy” would have been surprised by Saturday night’s performance of the hit. Mraz and his band opted for a smoother, rhythmic reggae sound, slowing the track down so the crowd could sway along with it. It was a lazier California-meets-Jamaica adaptation that suited the feel of the evening.

Perhaps the only time the famously chill Mraz seemed uncomfortable on stage was when he introduced his opening act.

“My jeans are pretty tight,” Mraz said. The crowd responded with cheers and whistles, but he wasn’t looking for compliments.

Country musician Alan Jackson occupied the same stage just the day before, and split his skintight pants during his concert.

“I don’t want to be cursed by that,” Mraz added with a laugh.

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