Jason Mraz and the San Diego Symphony

Review by Rudy Flores
Photos by Sam Madnick

Deep in the heart of Downtown San Diego, directly on the bay lies the city’s newest outdoor venue, The Rady Shell at Jacob’s Park, a beautiful structure that is very reminiscent of The Hollywood Bowl. The Shell opened in August of this year and is off and running at full speed. Since then it has become the new summer home for the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and it is taking over as a replacement for the temporary venue that used to pop up at the Embarcadero Marina Park South. It adds greatly to the scenery and will be a great little tourist spot for everyone walking around the Gaslamp and Convention Center areas. Tonight it sets the stage for a fun show with them and the two-time Grammy award-winning artist Jason Mraz.

Mr. A-Z teamed up with Conductor, Sean O’Loughlin, and the Orchestra to take his already amazing music into the stratosphere with his original compositions transformed into classical renditions that were perfect for an evening on the water. It was sort of a “VH-1 Storytellers” (remember that show?) kind of evening, where before some of the songs Jason would speak about the inspirations for them. One in particular story was about his breakout hit “The Remedy” from the 2002 release “Waiting For My Rocket To Come”. The opening verse goes …

“Well I saw fireworks from the freeway
And behind closed eyes, I cannot make them go away
’cause you were born on the 4th of July (freedom ring)
Well something on the surface it stings
I said something on the surface
Well it kinda makes me nervous
To say that you deserve this
And what kind of God would serve this
We would cure this dirty old disease
Well, if you gots the poison
I gots the remedy”

He said that the first line came from him driving to a gig in LA and passing the fireworks at Disneyland on the freeway. The rest was about a dear friend of his that was suffering from cancer that was born on the 4th. Then he went on to share that his friend decided that he “wasn’t going to worry his life away and that the remedy was in the experience”. Lyrics that made that song what it was…INCREDIBLE!

Each song had a drastic change musically, as the usually upbeat poppy funk that Jason cultivates became the epitome of love as the notes reached epic heights. The feeling for each lyric magnified 100x on top of the booming sounds of the orchestra and filled the night sky with the sound of joy that only comes from heart songs.

After the short intermission (it’s the Symphony after all so yeah there was one of those) Jason quite literally floated across the stage as he attached some old school skates to his shoes and proceeded to glide from side to side belting out one of his newer songs called “Be Where Your Feet Are” from 2020’s “Look For The Good”. During “Lucky” Jason brought up San Diego songstress Rebecca Jade, a star in her own right as she has been on tour with Shelia E. She even sang backup for Sir Elton John at the 2020 Academy Awards and their rendition of the song (dueted with Colbie Callait on the 2008 “We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things” album) left everyone in awe.

The final song of the evening, “Have It All” was his way of sending well wishes to all of us. As the song reached its crescendo, fireworks exploded in the background in a sparkling display over the bay. When Jason Mraz walked off the stage for the final time, the entire audience stood in appreciation for an evening filled with love, laughter, stories, and tears. From newer songs to radio hits, every one of his offerings was perfectly placed in this one-of-a-kind performance. If you missed it, you missed out!