MRAZmerized – the Jason Mraz experience!

Jason Mraz with his band Live in Manila, May 2013

Jason Mraz with his band Live in Manila, May 2013

Jason Mraz made a promise to be back in Manila last October 30, 2011 after his successful “You Are Loved: Jason Mraz Acoustic Evening” concert with his longtime friend-percussionist Noel “Toca” Rivera. To-date, his Manila concert had the biggest audience for an “acoustic” gig; the response was indeed overwhelming. And since then, Mraz asked his management (Bill Silva Management – BSM) not to book him in room built for sports, for sole reason that it was an “acoustic” tour and meant to have “intimate” connection with the audience.

Nearly 2 years after that promise, 11,000 strong fans flocked at the Big Dome last Tuesday, May 14, to witness the fulfillment of that promise from singer/songwriter and Grammy winner – Jason Mraz with local artist Zendee opening the night. Armed with his new band, (Toca is just having some time off) Jason set the arena on fire. Dubbed as “Tour Is a Four Letter Word” the concert covers well-loved songs from his 4 studio released albums. Whoever coined of the headline for this marketing campaign did a very good job as it encompasses the overall branding strategy for “Love is a Four Letter Word” – his most recent and fourth studio album which was released last January 2012 and debuted at #1 on US Billboard Digital Chart.

Tour Is A Four Letter Word - Jason Mraz and His Band Promotional Poster. Image (c) JasonMraz.com

Tour Is A Four Letter Word – Jason Mraz and His Band Promotional Poster. Image (c) JasonMraz.com

I guess the release of his official lyric videos earlier this year helped this concert tour too as the audience get to sing-a-long with his songs. I have said this several times but Jason is at his best when live. The songs were thoughtfully arranged (performed) and he is able to inject wonderful organic blend of contemporary, jazz, blues, reggae, hip-hop and pop genres, with his hauntingly beautiful songs having their own unique story to tell. While he already performed half of the songs from the set list the last time he was here, it’s okay to me because these songs are the ones that put him on where is he right now. The up-beat “Make it Mine” (performed along with “Live High” both from his “We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.” album, released on 2008) earned himself a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal at the 52nd’s Grammy Awards back in 2010 while “Lucky” feat. Colbie Callait also from the same album (performed in Manila live with Zendee) gave him and Colbie the Best Pop Vocal Collaboration win at the Grammys the same year.

Mraz has his own and unique lyrical style of singing the songs with humorous lyrics in between, mixing the words and all, changing the lyrics, improvising, doing his thing. New Mraz audience can attest to that via the songs “3 Things” and “You F*ckin Did It” (from “Love is a Four Letter Word” album, released 2012) but one thing about him that maybe some people overlooked is the fact that he can write anti-love songs beautifully, how he’s able to communicate his emotions and the tenderness through the lyrics. That’s why I’m literally at the edge of my seat the moment I heard the intro keys for “Plane” (from “Mr. A-Z” album, released on 2003) feeling every bit of it. There is just too much emotion with that song and his band, too, did an excellent job with that number. At the encore, I was surprised that he did “Song for a Friend” (also from “Mr. A-Z” album) – the song as he explained many times before is actually “a song from a man to another man” (in a good, brotherly way though). With this song we go a little bit “deeper”, the overall message was very moving and it give me chills everytime I hear this song. There’s another version of this song with prelude from Senator Edward Kennedy’s moving eulogy to his brother Robert after his tragic assassination during the 1968 Presidential campaign in the US. Man, you have to check out that another version, really sad but very inspirational. Most of the audiences came to the arena obviously to have a good time and see Mraz perform. In my case, it’s far beyond that as I am very much attached with his songs physically and emotionally.

Jason Mraz with his band performs in Manila, May 2013

Jason Mraz performs in Manila, May 2013

Based on the set list, Mraz was able to navigate on different genres but I preferred Mraz ended the night with the song “I Won’t Give Up” (from “Love is a Four Letter Word” album, released on 2012) instead of “I’m Yours” / “3 Little Birds” (from “We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.” album, released 2008). Don’t get the wrong idea, I love the song very much and I literally have 50+ different versions of that song from different tours but I think “I Won’t Give Up” has earned that finale spot. It did really well on chart, and was a commercial success too, and that official lyric video was actually better than the official music video in my humble opinion. But hey, that’s just me. There are other good songs too, some were unreleased tracks that didn’t make it on his set list and hopefully, he’ll play them on his next visit.

To wrap it up, it was truly an amazing and unforgettable concert experience. The beautiful sketches/backdrop on the LED made the concert even more enjoyable. I can’t say that this is better than his previous gig 2 years ago because these two are two different concert experiences with the former dubbed as an “acoustic night” while the recent one with a full band.

If you missed the show or simply want to revisit that MRAZmerizing concert experience, then head over past break for the set list and accompanying videos.

Jason Mraz and his Band Live in Manila
SMART Araneta Coliseum, May 14, 2013

Set List (click on the title to watch the video on YouTube)
01. The World as I See It
02. Everything is Sound
03. The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)
04. They Shaped My Life (Who I Am Today)
05. Butterfly
06. 3 Things
07. Frank D. Fixer
08. You and I Both
09. Living in the Moment
10. Lucky (feat. Zendee)
11. Make it Mine / Live High
12. Only Human
13. Plane
14. You F*ckin Did It
15. I’m Coming Over
16. The Woman I Love
17. A Beautiful Mess
18. 93 Million Miles
19. I Won’t Give Up

Encore
20. Song for a Friend
21. I’m Yours / 3 Little Birds (Bob Marley cover)

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“Me, You & the Music” Album Review – The Stellar Vocals of Jessica Sanchez

Jessica Sanchez - "Me, You & the Music" Album Cover. Image (c) Interscope Records

Jessica Sanchez – “Me, You & the Music” Album Cover. Image (c) Interscope Records

American Idol Season 11’s runner-up Jessica Sanchez released her much-anticipated debut album aptly titled: “Me, You & the Music” last April 30, her first under 19 Entertainment / Insterscope Records. The long-overdue 11-track album showcases Sanchez’s undeniable vocal prowess with a mixed of upbeat songs and powerful ballads. Though there’s no Emimen collaboration as Sanchez hoped, the album nonetheless features two tracks of duet from equally talented artist like Grammy winner Ne-Yo for the song “Tonight” which he co-wrote and is the current single; and Prince Royce – recipient of multiple Billboard Latin Music Awards, with the song “No One Compares” (original and Spanglish versions).

I instantly fell in love with “Crazy Glue” – a powerful ballad with a beautifully-written melody that is very distinct to her. She actually co-wrote this song and two others: “No One Compares (feat. Prince Royce)” – a pop/dance track; and “You’ve Got the Love” – an upbeat track with an amazing vocal range! Phew! It’s inevitable to compare her with Rihanna, Beyonce and Jazmine Sullivan but she’s definitely out there to create her own identity.

On the creative side, Sanchez managed to pull-off an amazing A-List of songwriters and producers with Toby Gad who worked with Beyonce, Fergie, Miley Cyrus, and The Veronicas among others; Mark J. Feist who have worked with huge artists like Celine Dion, Kelly Rowland and Natalie Cole; and Harvey Mason Jr. with Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Whitney Houston and Luther Vandross under his belt. Breakthrough and R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan co-wrote “Drive By”; award-winning writer LaShawn Daniels co-wrote “You’ve Got the Love”; Sia Furler which recently appeared on David Guetta’s Titanium co-wrote “Gentlemen”; J.R. Rotem made a new life to Tom Petty’s 1985 hit – “Don’t Come Around Here No More” now titled: “Don’t Come Around” with a more reggae feel.

"Tonight" - the current single from Jessica Sanchez featuring Ne-Yo. Image (c) Interscope Records

“Tonight” – the current single from Jessica Sanchez featuring Ne-Yo. Image (c) Interscope Records

Scheduled to appear on the last 2 episodes of Glee for this season and with the release if her debut album, Jessica is obviously one of today’s emerging young artists and hopefully she can cut her own niche in the music arena.

Top 5 songs: Crazy Glue, Plastic Roses, No One Compares, Tonight and Right to Fall

Rating: 8/10

You can sample (legally) “Me, You & the Music” here and buy it on: iTunes | Amazon | Amazon MP3 | Windows Store | Walmart

UPDATE: “Me, You & the Music” debuts at #26 on Billboard 200 with 14,000 units sold!

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