Jack Johnson at Cricket Wireless Pavilion Last Night

Jack Johnson
October 10, 2010
Cricket Wireless Pavilion

Last night's Jack Johnson show was like an episode of late night television where the host casually invites all his famous friends to chill on stage with him. The stage gradually got more crowded with the Brushfire Records family as he played on.

Jack kicked off his set of good vibes with his latest single, "You And Your Heart," which really got the crowd as excited as the mostly serene crowd could get. He got right into "If I Had Eyes," another upbeat electric hit. The first acoustic stint began with "Taylor," throughout which he gently whispered all of the storytelling lyrics and made all the ladies scream. Jack took "Upside Down" away from its young, playful tone and slowed it down to turn it into a sexy slow jam, even though he said that the song was for anyone there with their kids.

Luke Holwerda

Brushfire Records label mate Zee Avi joined in for a ukulele rendition of "Breakdown," followed by a collaboration of overlapping vocals on hersong "Just You and Me." Couples got close during "Wasting Time." Jack peppered in bits and pieces of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" on his own hit"Bubble Toes."

"It's so nice to see you guys all up and dancing," Jack said to the crowd during "Bubble Toes." "You're not thinkers. You guys just dance."

Paula Fuga took the stage and blew the crowd away with "Give It Back." Jack and Paula followed up with another collaboration for "Country Road," which gave the show a momentary reggae feel. She belted out her song "Give Voice" as well. G. Love got up on  stage to play "Rodeo Clowns" for the next segment of the Jack Johnson Variety Hour. G. Love brought out the funk and wailed away on his blues harp on the bass heavy "Staple It Together." Bassist Merlo Podlewski finally broke out of his shell and busted out a completely unexpected  but awesome Beastie Boys-style rap about "Foxy Lady" and Jimi Hendrix. The crowd pulled off a rather creative encore chant by continuing to since the "oh oh oh oh" part of the chorus of "Are They Laughing At Or With Me." Props, Phoenix! He also brought out a good portion of the Brushfire family for a wicked grand finale.

The whole show was chockful of intimate moments between Jack and his guitar. The feeling of free love in the venue only got stronger as distance from the stage got shorter. The most movement I saw at the whole show was a guy dancing and wildly air guitaring next to me. Likewise, the pit was the most tame I've ever seen at any show. Unlike his earlier tours, Jack switched up his approach to stage production by featuring edgier effects on the screen behind him. The black and white - er, sepia-toned lovin' - graphics and videos included more than just waves and trees this time around. The show briefly paused for a wedding proposal, which brought about Jack Johnson jokingly dishing out marriage advice to the newly engaged couple. Jack had plenty of interaction with the crowd in between dreams songs, telling old stories about yard work and weed whacking, among other things.

Luke Holwerda

Not that Jack's original material didn't meet expectations, but the best parts of the show were the covers. Zach Gill of the California jam band A.L.O. played the melodica during a cover of the Steve Miller Band's "Joker." Jack assured the crowd that the melodica wasn't a hookah. Zach hammered away at his piano right after Jack slipped in some seduction with a brief cover of UB40's "Red Red Wine" during his own song "Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology." He also sprinkled in a taste of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" and the Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down" during the encore.

It was impressive that so many people came out to witness a guitarist with a strong stage presence rather than a guitarist that works the stage; Jack barely moved from one spot the entire night. He had an "I don't care" attitude about having messed up or playing the
wrong verses a few times, which made him seem like a relatable, average guy. One thing's for sure: Jack played beautifully.

Critic's Notebook:

Last night:
Jack Johnson at Cricket Wireless Pavilion.

Personal bias: I've been listening to Jack since I was 13, which was back when he released his second album, On and On.

The crowd: All ages since Jack's music repertoire includes the soundtrack to the children's movie Curious George.

"So he's opening for himself?" - a confused concertgoer in regards to
Jack's side stage performance in the common area prior to the show

Set list:
You And Your Heart
If I Had Eyes
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
To The Sea
Go On
Upside Down
Holes To Heaven
Inaudible Melodies
Joker (Steve Miller Band cover)
Good People
Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology > Red Red Wine (UB40 cover)
Just You And Me (Zee Avi)
Bubble Toes (with "Foxy Lady" intro)
Wasting Time
Give It Back (Paula Fuga with Jack
Country Road
(Paula Fuga with Jack)
Give Voice (Paula Fuga)
Banana Pancakes
Rodeo Clowns (G. Love with Jack)
Staple It Together
Are They Laughing At Or With Me

Do You Remember
Plastic Jesus > Home
Angel > Don't Let Me Down (The Beatles cover)
Together > I Want You Back (Jackson 5 cover) (with Zee Avi, Paula
Fuga, Adam Topol, Merlo Podlewski, Zach Gill and G. Love)

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Lenni Rosenblum