Lady Gaga may have been turned away by protesters, but no one protested Jason Mraz’s “Tour Is a Four-Letter Word” tour in Indonesia. In fact, it would be hard to find anything about it to protest. Mraz’s music focuses primarily on one theme, and he’s not shy about driving it home.
“Love is always the message I want to convey,” Mraz said. “[My album] is a constant retelling, a reawakening, a reminder of it.”
This international singer-songwriter made it big in 2008 with the release of the song “I’m Yours,” and he’s still sharing his message of love and positivity in his new album, “Love Is a Four-Letter Word.”
About 5,000 people squeezed onto the lawn at Gelora Bung Karno in Jakarta to hear him play on Friday. Despite the excitement of the audience, Mraz was as chill as ever when he waltzed on stage with his brown-brimmed hat and beads dangling from his wrist, with psychedelic rainbow flowers on the screen behind him.
Mraz improvises as easily on his ukulele as he scats with his voice, and he and his performers often wandered off on quirky solos, with everything from bald brass players bobbing in unison to the softer flute, violin and shaker combo.
That’s typical Mraz for you. He sang nine of the 13 songs on his new album, alternated with old classic favorites like “Lucky,” “Curbside Prophet” and, of course, “I’m Yours,” with the live addition of an audience call-and-response over the familiar repeating chords.
Mraz has three distinct flavors of message intertwined with his funky luau beats: Love humanity, love yourself and love your partner.
“We’re all sweating tonight,” he yelled after his song “Only Human,” pointing out that although we’re all different people, we’re united in harmony. Several times he slipped into a gospel style, throwing back his head in the middle of “Living in the Moment” and shouting a prayer to the audience: “Let me have peace! Let me forgive myself!”
When he began the song “93 Million Miles,” the audience broke out in a cheer. Mraz introduced this song as “his favorite,” and it’s easy to see why, as the lyrics invariably promise that “wherever you are, you’ll always come back home.” For Mraz, coming home seems to be synonymous with loving yourself.
In fact, though Mraz promises that the more he learns about love, the less he knows, if you didn’t drag your boyfriend with you to the concert, you’d be sorry several times over. From Mraz’s romantic duet “Lucky,” coupled with pictures of kissing lovers, to his pep talk to all the “dudes” urging them to love their women at all times, Mraz was persistent that love should endure despite all odds.
By his last ballad, “I Won’t Give Up,” Mraz had the audience singing together not to give up on love because “God knows we’re worth it.”
The crowd knew Mraz’s songs by heart, and they surprised him in the middle by singing a song in Indonesian to wish him a happy birthday.
Though his response was a predictable “Yes!” when asked if he was happy, he seems to yearn for life outside stardom. He says his plan in 25 years is to have a family, live in a tepee, grow food, educate himself and write music.
“I can’t really write music unless I’m having emotional experiences,” the star said. It seems thousands of adoring fans clapping to his music just doesn’t cut it.
Mraz also turned thoughtful when it came to his fears and doubts. He said he’s afraid of not being good enough, and it’s hard to miss out on things “at home” during his tour. Though he has quipped that “home’s a state of mind” in several songs, it sounded like he was still working to live up to his own philosophies.
Of Indonesia, Mraz said: “There are too many islands I’ll never get to see.” He regretted spending most of his visit in big cities and wished for more time to explore. He also hoped to try more Indonesian cuisine, asking: “Do you juice the durian?”