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MUSIC REVIEW

Mraz is all smiles all the time

By Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / August 5, 2009

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It started with the positive proclamation “I’m grateful to be here!’’ and continued with requests for a group hug. Then there was a screen silhouette of people giving high-fives and an order for audience members to sing to their neighbors.

If there were any doubts about Jason Mraz’s unwavering good mood, last night’s show at the Bank of America Pavilion should have killed them. The pop singer, whose single “I’m Yours’’ has been sugaring up the airwaves for months now, was thankful, cheery, and lovey-dovey for two hours straight. It was difficult not to love him back, especially with that voice. Even if you eye-roll his cookie-cutter radio tunes, a live performance proves that the West Coast rocker is a songbird. The sleepier tracks from his latest album “We Dance, We Sing, We Steal Things’’ are juicier live, when he can show off that range and his almost uncanny pitch-perfect clarity.

A reggae version of his single “Remedy’’ was pacifying. The horn-punctuated “Dynamo of Volition’’ was a party. “I’m Yours’’ became a call-and-answer event with an almost necessary cover of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds’’ tacked to the end.

About an hour in, Mraz surprised the crowd by moving to a second stage set up toward the back of the pavilion. From there, he performed a stripped-down version of the earnest heartbreaker “You and I Both,’’ and performed the duet “Lucky,’’ subbing Colbie Caillat, who’s featured on the album, with Elise Fisher, a manager at the San Francisco feel-good spot Café Gratitude, after which Mraz has named his tour.

The night closed with a cover of Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long (All Night)’’ and a pepped up rendition of Mraz’s best attempt at a sex-starter, “Butterfly.’’ He left the stage smiling. His face is probably stuck that way.

Mraz can thank G. Love & Special Sauce for bringing the packed house to a happy place early on. The opening act, which was making hippie-guy guitar rock long before Mraz was on the scene, charmed the crowd with stories of its Boston roots, including Allston cockroaches that spawned the 1999 song “Roaches.’’

“Rainbow’’ was the highlight of the band’s twangy and danceable set, only trumped in spirit by a rendition of the 1994 dorm-room tune “Cold Beverage.’’ The silly jam band song prompted even the youngest Mraz fans to dance in their seats.

A tune about chilled drinks shouldn’t hold up so well after 15 years, but on a hot night, it does.

Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com.

JASON MRAZ with G. Love and Special Sauce

at Bank of America Pavilion

last night, repeats tonight

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