March 17, 2015 – Santa Barbara, California, United States: Jason Mraz brings "An acoustic evening with Jason Mraz" tour to Santa Barbara performing at the Arlington Theatre. (Thomas Long)…
Thomas Long

Hundreds packed into the Arlington Theatre on Tuesday night to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Jason Mraz, who might be the closest thing the music industry has to a leprechaun. Mraz spent the evening talking about his connection with nature and how his guitar sits at the end of a rainbow.

The show opened with L.A.-based quartet Raining Jane, an all-female folk-rock band reminiscent of a Sara Bareilles from the 1970s. The group meshed beautifully; of the four members, three of them sang, and all of them played their instruments with such zeal it felt like the first set of the tour. (In fact, it was closer to their 50th.) They told the audience how they had first met Mraz and how stoked they were to be playing and recording with the musician they considered to be “one of the best songwriters of our time.” That energy and excitement roared through their half-hour set and only intensified when Mraz joined them onstage.

When Mraz stepped up to play along, the audience was blinded not by the beauty of the situation but by the stage lights. Even in the bright light, though, you could see the outline of his trademark hat. Mraz and Raining Jane kicked off their duet with “Love Someone,” a heartfelt track that was made even more so thanks to the harmonies and instrumentation of the three women. The four gathered together beside a single microphone and harmonized through the night in true barbershop-quartet fashion.

Mraz, playful and dynamic onstage, was an expert at keeping both the crowd and his Raining Jane bandmates on their toes. When he mixed up a verse, he joked that he was distracted by the sight of Raining Jane member Mona. He also did the robot, taught the audience how to dance by using pizza analogies, and played the guitar behind his back. The band switched up their instruments a few times, employing acoustic and electric guitars, ukuleles, jazz brushes, synths, a piano, a cello, an upright bass, and even a sitar in their acoustic set. When Mraz performed his hit song “Lucky,” the audience went wild, singing along to every word. Fans screamed “I love you” throughout the performance, to which Mraz smiled and joked, “Thanks, Mom!”

While the show never fully transitioned out of the goofy zone, Mraz did take a few minutes to talk about the environment and reminisce about his grandfather’s farm, climate change, and a friend’s diagnosis with a rare bone cancer. And, as expected of someone who writes love songs for a living, Mraz ended each one of his songs and stories on an uplifting note: Planting is good for the spirit; he finished up about climate change by singing of how his children will “go to school with all the fishes / they won’t have to wash no dishes”; and how his friend with cancer survived and impressed Mraz with his positive thinking, which inspired him to write “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry).”

Mraz finished up his set by performing his two most renowned songs, “I’m Yours” and “I Won’t Give Up,” during which everyone sang and danced, and many fans rushed to the stage for a chance to be closer to the musician — or maybe just his pot of gold.


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