The four members of Raining Jane – vocalist, cellist and guitarist Mai Bloomfield; vocalist, keyboardist and guitarist Chaska Potter; vocalist, percussionist and drummer Mona Tavakoli; and vocalist, bassist, guitarist and sitar player Becky Gebhardt – walked onto the stage at the First Interstate Center for the Arts on Saturday night.
They were soon followed by singer-songwriter Jason Mraz. All five were dressed in black and white, with Mraz in all-black, except for a bright white necktie that really popped, and his signature fedora.
“What’s up, Spokane?” asked Mraz before launching into a funny introductory greeting and thank you – entirely in song – that he reprised in the show’s closing, as well.
It was the perfect introduction and teaser to “Ladies & Gentleman, an Evening With Jason Mraz & Raining Jane,” a night that was all about the vocal talents of Raining Jane and especially Mraz; the instrument skills of all five, especially the delightfully hair-thrashing Tavakoli; and the lighthearted charisma and wit of Mraz, who chatted with The Spokesman-Review ahead of Saturday night’s 2 1/2-hour concert, including a 20-minute intermission.
Mraz noted that Raining Jane and he have worked together since 2007, and they were working on music for a new album together. The evening was a beautiful and seamless collaboration between the two camps, and their new music included “Living Your Dream,” “The More We Share” and “Look for the Good,” as well as Mraz hits “Lucky,” “I Won’t Give Up” and “I’m Yours.”
Before “The More We Share,” Mraz turned “Share” into “Cher” and reminded everyone that we have to turn back time, at once noting Cher’s hit “If I Could Turn Back Time” and daylight saving time. It was the first moment of sassiness from Mraz, with many more to come.
Before “Unlonely,” he called out two singletons in the audience, Jaclyn and Lily, and made them instant friends with audience members – “you’re no longer by yourselves tonight” – by humorously incorporating them into the song. Encouraged to clap during the song, Tavakoli quipped, “Spokane is a bunch of little clappers!”
The quintet’s harmony was glorious and heavenly during “The More We Share,” “Double Talk” (which managed to be skillful and delightful at the same time), “93 Million Miles” and “Living the Moment.” The transcendent “93 Million Miles” was most likely this journalist’s favorite and chills-including moment of the concert.
Mraz joked about his piano skills as “target practice” and explained how his infatuation with a blue Yamaha scooter at age 12 is the cause of his lack of mastery of the keys, and how ironic it is that the tour piano is – wait for it – a Yamaha.
Other evening highlights included a fun arrangement of “Remedy (I Won’t Worry)”; an imploring to “vote louder” after “Only Human”; Mraz teasing “I’m going to turn that off and turn you on” before the creative “DJ FM AM JJASON”; Mraz’s announcement of a 15-minute intermission (it was actually 20 minutes) for an “inter mission” of reflection; and a great instrumental duet between Tavakoli and Gephardt during “You & I Both.”
Mraz and Raining Jane’s positivity, optimism, insight, lightheartedness and talents are welcome back in Spokane at any time.
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