Concert Review: Jack Johnson at Cruzan Amphitheater, with ALO and G. Love | New Times Broward-Palm Beach


Concert Review: Jack Johnson at Cruzan Amphitheater, with ALO and G. Love

Jack Johnson
with G. Love and ALO
Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach
Thursday, August 26, 2010


Heading out

in rainy West Palm Beach to see tanned

singer-songwriter Jack

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

laid-back vibe.

Johnson had a badass one-two combo of Philly-born-and-bred soft

rock-rapper G.

Love's acoustic set, and the Cali-based foursome ALO to

prime the crowd for the feel good. After that, his honest, earnest and unassuming

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

in Oahu.

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
Sitting, Waiting,

Wishing (with a verse of Just What I Needed by the Cars)
To The Sea

Upside Down
Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology
Bubble Toes

Banana Pancakes
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)

You Remember
The Joker (Steve Miller Band cover)

Rodeo Clown (w/ G. Love)
Staple It Together (w/ G. Love on

harmonica and bassist Merlo Podlewski rapping)
At Or With Me (w/ G.

Love on harmonica)

Pirate Looks at 40 (Jimmy

Buffett cover)
Better Together (w/ EVERYBODY on stage)