with G. Love and ALO
Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach
Thursday, August 26, 2010
in rainy West Palm Beach to see tanned
Johnson's local stop on his To The Sea tour was more trying than staying home and watching the cast of Jersey Shore's spray-tanned hi-jinks. But it was Johnson's last stop on this leg of his tour, and if the
surfer-turned-troubadour wouldn't be deterred from his first show in
SoFla in five years, neither would his fans. Instead they duck-dived
into inclement weather armed with good cheer and what -- I'm only
speculating -- smelled like a fair share of weed to help ease into that
Johnson had a badass one-two combo of Philly-born-and-bred soft
Love's acoustic set, and the Cali-based foursome ALO to
songwriting translated magnificently to the stage, and a few bars into
his opening with new single "You and Your Heart" you're instantly
transported from that drippy West Palm venue to Ohau's North Shore,
where he was raised on a steady diet of sun and surf that shines through
in each and every tune.
That's right, even if Johnson's
expanded his songwriting view past vacation-ready tunes, as he himself
has said about his recent work (2008's Sleep Through the Static and this
year's To the Sea), that Hawaiian vibe is as present as ever. "You and
Your Heart" opens with Johnson's trademark percussive strumming and a
quirky, toe-tapping riff. And the title track is as dreamy as anything
on In Between Dreams. But Johnson isn't the type of performer to shove
all his new material down fans throats, forgoing the classics. Knowing
full well that they're waiting with bated breath for tracks like "Better
Together," "Crying Shame" and "Banana Pancakes" off 2005's In Between
Dreams, and "Taylor" and "Times Like These" off 2003's On and On, he was
more than happy to oblige. And responding in kind, the crowd was only
too ready to sing them right back at him.
But it's not just the
setlist that made for a good show. Johnson is both a showman, contrary
to what the non-fan may interpret from his laid-back demeanor, and
accessible. After starting the third verse of "Taylor" twice and joking
that the crowd wouldn't have even noticed, he headed into "Sitting,
Waiting, Wishing," furninshing the track with a verse from the Cars
"Just What I Needed." On "Bubble Toes" he took a moment to recount when a
college friend gave him tips on how to pick up girls "at the DLG" some
17 years ago, and he met his wife using them. On "Mudfootball" he
brought out a guitarist he'd met the previous night. Turned out it was
guitar legend Dickie Betts' son Duane, who could shred pretty well
himself. Dan Lebowitz from ALO and Hawaiian singer Paula
Fuga joined him on stage for a few tracks, with the singer belting
out the jams and Lebowitz swapping between guitar and lap steel.
crowd sang along when Johnson covered "The Joker" by Steve Miller Band,
and he joked that he "smelled a couple of midnight tokers." Then G. Love
returned to the stage for "Rodeo Clowns" and to lend his harmonica chops
to "Staple It Together" and "At or With Me." And of course, the encore
was nothing to scoff at, four songs deep closing with "Better Together,"
where Johnson brought everyone -- everyone -- including ALO, G. Love, Paula
Fuga, and even his roadies, techs and fan club onstage, encouraging
them to pick up anything they could. And they did. Roadies played
tambourine, fans played bells and drummed on empty Zephyr Hills jugs.
at the end of it all, the sky had cleared and fans went home buzzing
about the show, four hours long and packed with great music, with a
tremendous two hours from Jack Johnson where he held no punches. It's hard to look
back at the evening, through the haze and perhaps a bit of beer mist,
with anything but affection.
Better Than: Listening to the sound of Snooki's
voice on your couch. By miles and miles. But not quite as good as being
Personal Bias: Since the first time I heard Jack
Johnson on a boat in the keys, I knew he was a guy I'd like to have a
beer with. Haven't realized that yet, but have certainly shared my fair
share with his tunes.
The Crowd: Mixed bag: brahs and
howlies, surfer Betty's both cute and with beer paunch, hippies, hickies
(a new breed of hippie), young, like kids, and old, like midliffers and
beyond, and even a guy in front of me who looked, and sounded, like he
belonged out with Snooki. But good times had by all.
You and Your Heart
If I had eyes
Wishing (with a verse of Just What I Needed by the Cars)
To The Sea
Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology
Mudfootball (w/ Duane Bets on guitar)
Your Love (w/ Dan Lebowitz from ALO on guitar and Paula Fuga)
Road (Paula Fuga cover w/ Paula Fuga and Dan Lebowitz on lap steel)
The Joker (Steve Miller Band cover)
Rodeo Clown (w/ G. Love)
Staple It Together (w/ G. Love on
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harmonica and bassist Merlo Podlewski rapping)
At Or With Me (w/ G.
Love on harmonica)
Pirate Looks at 40 (Jimmy
Better Together (w/ EVERYBODY on stage)