When pop singer Jason Mraz sang the words “I’m Yours” to a packed house at a rare San Diego club show last week, he was of course speaking as a man to his significant other. Or was he? Perhaps he was taking the perspective of the autographed guitar that said “I’m yours” to the guy in the crowd who bid $11,000 to take it home. Or was it the surfboard that went for $10,000? How about the $8,000 set of three limited-edition Green Day skate decks?
Mraz headlined the second-annual benefit concert for the Rob Machado Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by the pro surfer to raise money and awareness for environmental programs here in Southern California and beyond. The evening also included a set by Goo Goo Dolls frontman John Rzeznik and featured a live auction of signed items that ended up in the hands of a few very generous donor, including Mraz himself.
But whether or not they actually bid on anything, everyone in the Belly Up Tavern audience came out a winner, thanks to a performance by Mraz that was at once intimate and lively, polished and loose. Accompanied throughout the show by multi-instrumentalist Chaska Potter, Mraz kept up a fun banter with his hometown fans in between a well-paced set of new material interspersed with the singer’s many hits and a surprising selection of partial covers. (The Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood theme song and Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” in the same set?)
Less than a week removed from an awkward nationally-televised performance with Hunter Hayes at the CMA Awards, which saw him completely blank on the lyrics when it was his turn to sing. Mraz didn’t have any better luck with a smaller audience. He and Potter at one point had to restart a song when he repeatedly sang second-verse lyrics during the first. Mraz’s charm as a performer, however, made the moment more endearing than unprofessional, as he continually laughed off the mistake.
Though he did not play hits like “The Remedy” and “Lucky” (the latter of which would have been perfect to sing with Potter), Mraz entertained the sold-out crowd with a mix of strong new songs and the familiar, plaintive odes to love and relationships that have helped make him a household name.
Like Mraz, Rzeznik was particularly popular with the women in the audience, one of whom was so enthusiastic about the Goo Goo Dolls singer that she was ejected during the very first song for pushing up too aggressively on other fans. Rzeznik still went on to turn out an otherwise smooth performance, highlighted by acoustic renderings of massive ’90s hits like “Name,” “Slide” and “Iris” for the excited audience.