fb-pixel Skip to main content
Music Review

Jason Mraz brings the positivity

Rose Lincoln/Boston GlobeJason Mraz performing at the Wang Theatre on Friday.

A few songs into his set at the Wang Theatre on Friday night, the Virigina-born troubadour Jason Mraz took a break from playing so he could discuss his recent attitude toward his craft. “I’ve found myself in this realm of positive music lately,” he said after performing his besotted 2008 track “Lucky.” Although he was refreshingly clear-eyed about how he got there — “I don’t wake up under the rainbow; I have to make the rainbow” — he spent Friday night putting his happiness on display, with a setlist full of hummable hooks, solid musicianship, and a high-octane dose of optimism that could make even those who consider themselves rainbow-averse crack a smile.

Mraz came to prominence in the early 2000s with his striving mission statement “The Remedy,” and over the years he’s amassed a solid, passionate fan base. (Proclamations of love, some more howled than others, came from all corners of the audience throughout Friday’s show.) He recently spent time in the record books thanks to the success of his 2008 single “I’m Yours,” a simple, strummed ode to commitment that spent 76 weeks in Billboard’s Hot 100 and remains a staple of adult-contemporary radio. His latest album, “YES!”, is a collaboration with the California four-piece Raining Jane, and it hones his happiness to a finer point; the sensitivity is still there, but it possesses a bit more oomph. Raining Jane started off the night with a brief, aside-filled set of uptempo, ornamented pop, and over the course of the evening they proved to be formidable partners for Mraz, providing gorgeously realized vocal counterpoints, switching off on instruments that included cello, sitar, and a toy xylophone, and offering the occasional bit of comic relief.


His focus on the positive might seem relentless at times, but Mraz did let the darkness in for balance, and briefly. “Everything Goes Quiet,” from “YES!”, is a love song about holding on to one another in the face of sometimes-frightening progress; he also showed footage of his trip to a climate-change summit in Antarctica after talking about his efforts to reduce his tour’s carbon footprint. At the close of his lengthy set, Mraz followed “I’m Yours” with a cover of Boyz II Men’s wistful breakup anthem “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” It was a quiet note to end on, although it played into the point Mraz made earlier in the evening: In order for a rainbow to shine, the occasional shower has to come through.

Maura K. Johnston can be reached at maura@maura .com.