***Before I begin, let me start by apologizing to anyone who heard my dreaded tone-deaf singing throughout the entire concert. But I can’t help not singing along & making a fool out of myself… it’s the magic of Mraz. That is all. ***
Wednesday night, Jason Mraz’s Gratitude Café Tour made a stop at GM Place in Vancouver. I’ve been counting down the days until he would return. His last concert here was on November 8th, 2008 (yes, of course I remembered the date! Who do you think I am?).
Of course, being the hardcore fan that I am, I got my tickets months in advance — even leaving my morning lecture early to find a computer in time for his fan club pre-sale. (The reason for my almost-obsessive hardcore fan nature is a long, but heartfelt story. Let’s just say it’s not all about his sex-appeal, his songs get me through a lot. No time to explain now. But if you ever meet me someday, ask me.)
I was shocked to learn that Mraz was going to perform at GM Place – home of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and venue for large concerts and performances. Last year, Mraz performed at the Centre for Performing Arts – a much more appropriately smaller venue. That’s not to say Mraz isn’t a huge enough rock star to be playing in a large arena (because he is), but intimate performances is what most people love about him. I don’t know, maybe I’m biased in that my last four of five concerts prior to the Mraz show was at a small venue/club. Personally, I believe having the intimate vibe gives you the option of connecting with your fans on a more personal level. Even if there were 500 bodies in the room, it still feels like you’re interacting with them one-on-one. It usually works.
(Later, I learned that Mraz was one of the performers/speakers at Free the Children’s We Day (check out that link if you haven’t already done so) the day before the concert. So I guess there wasn’t really much Mraz could do since it would be difficult to re-assemble his stage.)
Willingly, I convinced my friends TayloredMyPants and ApuTheFish to join me. It didn’t take much convincing though. I dragged TayloredMyPants to his last show here in November even though she has never heard of him until the day of. Ever since then she’s become a bonafide Mraz fan. ApuTheFish has been listening to his music for years, but never realized it was Mraz who she was listening to until she had an epiphany one day.
After nearly eleven months of waiting for him to return and a summer filled with other concerts and gigs to occupy my mind, I was more than ready for the day to arrive.
For weeks, I strategized with my friends our plan of execution for Wednesday night – arrival time and outfit of choice (though, they didn’t really care about the latter). I had to be prepared!
While perusing through various Jason Mraz message boards, I learned that several Mraz fans were going to arrive at GM Place hours in advance of the 7:00pm show-time. Some even said they were going to arrive at 4pm. How will Mraz’s sweat accidentally land on my face if I wasn’t going to be the first one there? I, too, had to come early.
I settled on what I was wearing too: A pink Paul Frank t-shirt with an Einstein monkey on the chest – aka my Geek in the Pink shirt. I had to do it, just in case he sees my shirt while performing the song and invites me on stage. Hey man, I’ve seen shirts do wonders before!
September 30th finally rolled around the corner. I began the day with a huge smile on my face. So what if I had to wake-up at 5:30am for school and endure hours upon hours of lectures? “Today is Jason Mraz Day,” I proclaimed to the heavens.
Since my learning of the early-bird concertgoers, I somehow persuaded ApuTheFish to skip our last lecture. After classes, we went our separate ways to home first, then reunite again at GM Place at 3:30pm. Yes, I said 3:30.
After having a quickie lunch at home, I made it to GM Place at around 3:20 at Gate 7 (the entrance where general admission/floor guests were supposed to line-up). When I first got to Gate 7, there was absolutely not a single soul present. Surprise, surprise. I walked a few feet towards the entrance and I observed that a girl was already here before me. To pass her time, she was reading a magazine on the ledge of a set of stairs. I was getting bored; luckily, minutes later, ApuTheFish arrived and came to my rescue.
The girl then realized we were Mraz-early-birds, too. She joined us, then a couple of other girls 15 minutes later came by too. The five of us were all alone – still, more than two-hours away until doors would open.
The four of us sat in a line along all six doors at Gate 7 and made a truce not to let any other suckers get past us. If we wanted to be in front of the standing pit in full view of Mraz, we would have to block the doors from others.
In the couple of hours still left of waiting, the five of us discussed everything Mraz-ness. We even joked that it would be cool if Jason came out of his trailer or rehearsal to perform for the five of us. After all, if we were dedicated to standing outside in the freezing cold, I think we deserve a song or two… or even a brief ‘hello’ would have been nice. He’s been known to do that once in a while.
At around 5:15, more people were starting to arrive and take over our makeshift human blockade. Finally, TayloredMyPants arrived too. Excellent… another body for our blockade. She then got up to strech her legs and so did I at around a quarter-to-six. Upon seeing us, everyone got up too. They probably thought it was time to enter GM Place. Um no, kids, we’re just stretching our legs. Who knew we had so much influence on random strangers?
It was already 6pm and we have not been allowed in yet. What’s wrong with the security? How will I ever stand front and center in front of Mraz now?
The security finally realized it was past 6pm and signalled to let us in. After getting my wristband, I ran down the stairs into the open arena. No time to stop by the merch table — I need to be front. As I gazed down the arena floor, there must have been hundred people standing by the stage already. I knew it! I knew that that security dude flubbed his job. We were late.
I ran as fast as I could and made my way to the back of the pack. I somehow squeezed past the last few standing rows and made it to the third row to the right of the mic (or on the left side from Mraz’s perspective). I couldn’t really see the stage very well since everyone in front of me was taller than I was (actually, generally, everyone is pretty much taller than I am). My only line of sight was a one inch crack between the heads of two people. Two people with very big heads that kept swaying back-and-forth. sigh.
The thing that bothers me about these large arenas is that anyone can get tickets at anytime. Usually, from my experience at the smaller venues, the real and true fans get the tickets first leaving barely any tickets left for the fan that just knows the artist for one of their hit songs. In Mraz’s case, that song that everyone knows is I’m Yours made popular in summer 2008. I, on the other hand, learned about I’m Yours about three years prior, even before it was even titled I’m Yours. And I’m pretty sure three-quarters of the audience at GM Place was there solely for I’m Yours. I’m thrilled that Mraz has gained hundreds of thousands of new fans, but if you’re going to someone’s show, at least know something about the artist or a few more of their other songs. The reason why I am rambling on about this topic is because someone didn’t even know who Bushwalla was, thought Mraz was from Hawai’i (and at that point, I gave them the WTF-face) – ok, just because he did a video in a tropical setting does not mean he’s from Hawai’i. ugh. And there were several people, especially in the front rows blocking my way that didn’t know a single word to any song other than to I’m Yours. In all of these scenarios, I throw my head down in shame – you know who you are. Anyway, I digress…
Around 7pm, the MC of the night Bushwalla (Jason Mraz’s bff) took the stage. Trying to get the crowd hyped up, Bushwalla interacted with us, told some stories, jumped into the crowd to chat with a girl in the audience, and performed some songs, including I’m a Ghetto Blaster. We also sang him Happy Birthday as it was his birthday – he turned 23… again (for the 11th time?).
Finally, Bushwalla introduced us to K’naan. Not your typical hip-hop or reggae artist, K’naan captures your attention with his beautiful songs and prose.
He got the audience involved with his story-telling and we even joined him in a capella. His awe-inspiring Somalia performance even got a lot of us in tears – ApuTheFish included.
After a few more hits including Bang Bang (made popular with Maroon 5) and Waving Flag, Jason Mraz finally graced the stage.
At this point, I could barely breathe. Not because I was being suffocated by very tall people or because the girl next to me was smoking weed (which, incidentally, because of her, I now learned I am allergic to the bud). No, but because this time, I was only 20-feet away from the man. If I really wanted to, I could have jumped over the barricade, hopped onto the stage, and hung onto his leg for dear life. I thought to myself: “Must have self-control…… breathe, dude, breathe.”
Mraz was barefoot, wore tattered blue jeans, a white long-sleeved henley-like top, and a maroon/brownish headband with tufts of his dreads peeking out. My friend said he was wearing the exact same thing as the day before. I don’t care. He could be sporting a garbage bag and still make it look sexy.
Toca Rivera with a golden gnome in hand was on our side of the stage. He sported a pair of shades as per usual.
Mraz’s intro song was a Traveler/Make It Mine medley. He performed it superbly end to end. I was worried that Mraz wasn’t going to be as entertaining as usual because he was under-the-weather for awhile. You can hear his hoarse voice the day before during the We Day performance. He proved us wrong though. For those not knowing of his condition before, they probably couldn’t tell anything was wrong. What a trooper.
He performed a total of 17 songs: 11 on the main stage, 3 on the small sound stage, and 3 back on the main stage for the encore. His song set-list is below.
- Traveler/Make It Mine medley
- Anything You Want
- You & I Both
- The Remedy (I Won’t Worry) – Reggeady version
- Details in the Fabric
- Only Human
- Dynamo of Volition
- Beautiful Mess
- I’m Yours/Three Little Birds medley
- Fall Through the Glass (w/ Bushwalla)
- Never Too Late (The Only Life You Can Save)
- Lucky (w/ manager Alysse Fischer)
- Dear Anna (w/ Toca Rivera)
- All Night Long (cover)
Mraz got everyone dancing and singing. The entire arena was full (not including the upper bowl/300-level, as those seats were not for sale), all 10,000+ of us were having a blast. A whole lot of us screamed for his attention and in my case, screaming out my love for him. (Every time he would raise his arms up, his shirt would lift up and you could see his happy-trail. *ahem* But that’s enough fangirl-isms from me for now.)
During Coyotes, Mraz beautifully sang an opera interlude. Here, he showcased his powerful range of voice.
I noticed another moment that got me choked up. I am not sure if anyone else noticed it either, but during The Remedy, Mraz showed a vulnerable side to him. Pay attention the last few seconds of the video to The Remedy below. It’s a very poignant moment in which I will never forget.
Of course, during I’m Yours, everyone was singing along and dancing like mad. After all, it IS his record-breaking little hippie song.
After performing Fall Through the Glass with Bushwalla, Mraz took a bow and left the stage. Looking at my watch I thought it was too early for the show to end.
Minutes later I hear roaring screams. Then Mraz’s voice came over the speakers, “What’s everyone screaming about? It’s like the Vancouver Canucks just scored a goal or something?”
I squealed, “Oh my god, he said ‘Vancouver Canucks’!” That just made me love him even more now.
Everyone then realized where his voice was coming from. Mraz was at the mini-soundstage at the opposite end of the arena. Nearly everyone on the floor ran towards the soundstage. ApuTheFish and I stood our ground by the main stage. Thankfully, those around us left for the soundstage leaving me to be finally up close by the barricade.
I wasn’t the only one to be concerned how he was able to make such a large arena feel intimate. Mraz thought of it too. He probably played three of the most personal songs on the soundstage, including a soulful duet with Toca, Dear Anna.
Upon Mraz’s return to the main stage for his encore performance, his three-piece brass band (The Grooveline Horns) performed Copchase. These guys are extraordinary.
His last performance of the night was the ever-so-sexy-I-wanna-tear-off-your-pants song, Butterfly. There was a single moment during the song when he looked at me and winked. And in that small finite moment (which seemed like an eternity to me), it was already decided that he was going to be my future babies’ daddy. For real.
Mraz took a final bow on stage with the rest of his band mates. It was official, the night has finally come to an end.
As the crowds dispersed, some of us yelled at the crew dismantling the set-up. I fought with a grown man and another girl for Jason’s song set-list. The man, I think, was a friend of one of the stage crews as they knew each other by name. So, of course, he got the set-list. Bum.
It was a bittersweet ending for me. Sweet in that I finally got to see him again after 11 months of waiting; bitter because I didn’t want it to end.
All-in-all, I thought the concert was pretty epic. My heart was pounding throughout the whole night. However, compared to the concert back in November, I thought that was a better one than Wednesday’s. I’m not sure why, but I remember there being more interaction with the audience in November. Perhaps it was because it was at a smaller venue, and Mraz had the luxury of wasting time and not sticking to a tight schedule. But that’s just me.
I am now counting the days until Jason returns to Vancouver. This time, I must be front and center. Countdown starts now… Oh, Jason – where are you???
///WATCH THE VIDEOS BELOW!
(filming credit to ApuTheFish, TayloredMyPants, & canucklehead07)
**Apologies for the giant heads in the way. These girls in front of us were being really annoying.**
Fatima – K’naan (live @ GM Place)
(filmed by TayloredMyPants)
Waving Flag – K’naan (live @ GM Place)
(sorry for the poor sound quality in this video)
Traveler/Make It Mine medley – Jason Mraz (live @ GM Place)
Coyotes – Jason Mraz (live @ GM Place)
You & I Both – Jason Mraz (live @ GM Place)
The Remedy (I Won’t Worry) – Jason Mraz (live @ GM Place)
Details in the Fabric – Jason Mraz (live @ GM Place)
Only Human – Jason Mraz (live @ GM Place)
Dynamo of Volition – Jason Mraz (live @ GM Place)
Beautiful Mess – Jason Mraz (live @ GM Place)
I’m Yours – Jason Mraz (live @ GM Place)
(version filmed by ApuTheFish)
I’m Yours/Three Little Birds medley – Jason Mraz (live @ GM Place)
(version filmed by canucklehead07)