A woman was standing in line at Secret Pizza talking on a cell phone before heading off to a Saturday night concert at the Chelsea in the Cosmopolitan.
“I’m seeing Jason Mraz,” she was overheard saying. “He’s some white guy you’ve never heard of.”
If true, it’s unfortunate for the person on the other end of the line.
Mraz, a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, backed ably by the talented rock-folk quartet Raining Jane, may not have the fame of recent visitors to the Chelsea, such as Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett or Billy Idol, but Mraz and company delivered an entertaining evening of music.
Mraz, who has cracked Billboard’s Top 10 with his albums “Mr. A-Z,” “We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.” and “Love Is a Four-Letter Word,” is amid a tour promoting his latest release, “Yes!,” which he co-wrote with the members of Raining Jane.
Sandwiched in between performances Friday in Salt Lake City and Sunday in Costa Mesa, Calif., the Las Vegas stop treated audience members to more than two dozen songs, some well-meaning social activism from the artist whose causes include environmentalism, sustainability and human rights, along with occasional banter.
A running gag Saturday night was Las Vegas itself. Shortly after taking the stage, Mraz stood to the side of a giant panorama of the Milky Way and joked that the star cluster in the middle actually was “the Strip from space.”
Throughout the concert, Mraz gave his own take on why he loved Las Vegas:
“I love Las Vegas: It was where the coupon was invented.”
“I love Las Vegas: It was where the buffet was invented.”
“I love Las Vegas: It was where air conditioning was invented.”
“I love Las Vegas: It was where (the F-word) was invented.”
Comedy and activism aside, though, this night was about the music.
There were his Grammy-winning hits “Lucky” (featuring Colbie Caillat), which the audience made its first sing-along, and “Make It Mine” featuring the talents of Raining Jane percussionist Mona Tavakoli, along with, perhaps, Mraz’s best-known song, “I’m Yours.”
Selections from “Yes!,” released in June, included “When You Love Someone” (the first single released off the album and Mraz’s opening song), “Hello You Beautiful Thing,” “3 Things,” “Back to the Earth,” “Long Drive” and “Shine.”
To those unfamiliar with Mraz’s background, Raining Jane — Tavakoli, Mai Bloomfield, Chaska Potter and Becky Gebhardt — was a refreshing presence. The four women started playing together in their college days at UCLA before embarking on a career together in 2004. They started collaborating with Mraz after opening for him at a festival in 2006.
The foursome showcased their musical talents on a variety of instruments — among them the cello, standup bass, mandolin, keyboard, ukulele and sitar — and their harmonies added depth to Mraz’s lead vocals.
When Mraz and Raining Jane ended the concert nearly three hours after it started with their encore, “I Won’t Give Up,” the crowd gave them a well-deserved ovation.
And, maybe the woman on the phone would make a return call to share more about the music from “the white guy you’ve never heard of.”
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
John Taylor is the copy chief of the Las Vegas Sun.