The Best Moments From Jason Mraz's 40th Birthday Hollywood Bowl Celebration
"Thanks again for making singing my first love," Mraz said to the audience.
Jason Mraz knows how to throw a birthday party. His 40th birthday celebration concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Friday (June 23) featured all the necessary fare for birthday success: a magician, balloon animals, and a birthday cake. Oh, and 15,000 fans.
The show was the fifth stop on the artist's Jason Mraz and his Superband mini-tour, which launched June 16 at Centennial Hall in Tucson, Arizona. The “I’m Yours” singer, dressed in typical laid-back attire of ripped jeans, a white button-down, and a newsboy cap, took the stage at 7 p.m. with his Superband members, a mix of longtime touring band members joined by the Los Angeles-based folk rock band Raining Jane.
They performed in front of a backdrop of sunset-hued nature imagery as the real sun set, a mix of well-worn patterned rugs dotting the stage floor. Were it not for the sea of people crowded on the lawn and swaying around the stage, Mraz really could have just been jamming with friends, new and old, in an intimate celebration of his life, people, and, of course, music.
That’s not to say there weren’t any surprises. The energy was sustained throughout the more than two-hour performance by guest appearances, audience interaction, and even a few nostalgic recollections on love and music from the man himself.
Check out some highlights from his 40th birthday celebration below.
Mraz: A “High Honor” to play the Hollywood Bowl
It wouldn’t be a musician's 40th birthday without some good old-fashioned dad jokes about drugs -- and that’s exactly what Mraz delivered early on in his set. As he finished the final strums of “Common Pleasure,” the singer gestured up to the expansive Hollywood Bowl lawn. “When I was a young man, that’s where I would sit -- way up in the grass, high up on the grass,” he said, smiling cheekily as the audience cheered. “It was a dream of mine to play up on this stage.” He then spoke of his appreciation for audience members who had managed to smuggle in marijuana through the Bowl’s extensive security, culminating with “and so it’s an honor -- a high honor -- to smell that purple haze from here.”
After moving into “Beautiful Mess,” Mraz once again paused to tell the story of his chance encounter with a “barista who radiated light” in a Southern California coffee shop (his future wife, Christina Carano). He spoke of his initial trepidations about “crushing” on Carano, for after all, “she’s up at 4 a.m. to bake all the baked goods -- I’m up till 4 a.m. getting baked on all these baked goods.”
Magic for Grown-Ups
But the good-natured fun didn’t end there. Following a performance of the comical “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Chocolate,” Mraz welcomed Cupcake Wars host and magician Justin Willman to the stage. Willman began by asking an audience member to pick a number from a row of cards. After seeming disappointed and asking the audience member if he was sure he didn’t want to change his mind, Willman pulled out the card and revealed the word “Hug” markered on the back. As he hugged Mraz, he revealed the backing of the other cards, all markered with “Anal.”
Willman, who described himself as looking like an “out-of-work Jonas Brother,” continued by inviting an audience member on stage to play “Game of Phones,” a trick involving a hammer and smashing envelopes full of iPhones. Mraz, as the birthday boy of honor, was of course given the role of wielding the hammer.
Mraz Gets (Subtly) Political
The concert wasn’t all fun and games, however, as Mraz took time to address the current political climate -- albeit lightheartedly and with his characteristic optimism. Just after positioning himself behind the stage’s piano and joking that he was going to begin his “DJ set, because that’s what all the kids are into these days,” Mraz noted that the “world is a little weird right now,” to which the audience loudly agreed. The singer, who played throughout the night on a plain acoustic guitar decorated with stickers bearing slogans like “the answer is love” and “be love,” encouraged audience members not to be disheartened as he began pressing the piano keys. “Any order has to go through disorder to reorder,” he mused, “be love in the face of hate.”
In a symbolic move, the screen was then shaded in black as the Tesoro High School Madrigals, conducted by Grammy-nominated music instructor (and fellow birthday boy) Keith Hancock, took to the stage. An 18-year-old girl beatboxed as Mraz reassured the audience that “we will not come undone,” segueing into his new song “Undone.”
The Hollywood Bowl fans weren’t the only guests invited to the party. Besides Willman, Mraz was joined on stage by fellow singer and collaborator Colbie Caillat, who together performed a duet of Caillat’s song “Try” and their 2009 joint single “Lucky.” Following Caillat’s exit and a performance of Mraz’s best-known single “I’m Yours,” members of the Superband wheeled out a giant birthday cake for the singer. The audience sang “Happy Birthday” as home videos of Mraz as a baby -- including one of a toddler Mraz reading a newspaper on the toilet -- flashed across the screen, interspersed with homemade tapes from celebrities and musicians like Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Zac Brown, Kevin Spacey and politician Al Gore, all of whom wished Mraz a happy birthday and shared anecdotes of their shared experiences. During a brief intermission -- or as Mraz called it, an “inner-mission” -- a balloon artist wandered the stage, littering the set with confetti and making balloon hats and animals for concert goers in the front row.
The spirit of pleasant remembrances and festivity was continued well into the night, and Mraz thanked the audience for "making singing my first love." He ended by encouraging the audience to take love -- and music -- with them throughout their lives, culminating the birthday bash with his new song “Love Is Still The Answer.”
"Let’s See What The Night Can Do"
"Make It Mine"
"So You Think You Can Dance"
"Take The Music"
"3 Little Birds"
"Details In The Fabric"
"You Do You"
"Might As Well Dance"
"You Matter To Me"
"93 Million Miles"
"I Won’t Give Up"
"Love Is Still The Answer"