Jack Johnson at State Theatre, 10/8/13
Photo by Youa Vang
Jack Johnson with Bahamas
State Theatre, Minneapolis
Monday, October 7, 2013
The only things missing from Jack Johnson's show at the State Theatre on Monday were blankets and dirt. The Hawaiian singer is well-known for his festival performances, but no one at his sold out out show let seats stop them from having fun. Johnson has more than enough hits to fill his two-hour set without faltering -- and that didn't even come close to covering all of his catalog.
Most bands keep the similar setlists for a tour, but Jack changed things up because he can. For his acoustic opening, Johnson put a simple, stripped-down take on some of his hits including "Good People," written about reality television when it was in its height of popularity. The treat of the evening came early in the form of Mason Jennings. The Minneapolis performer was invited to sit in on "Fall Line" and contributed two of his songs, "I Love You and Buddha Too" and "Living in the Moment." He and Jack traded vocals on all three songs, blending in the chorus as if they were one talented person.
Photo by Youa Vang
In a sea of his hits, Jack was able to throw in some new songs from his latest album From Here to Now to You without it being a wrench in the evening. The reason being that the new pieces like "Washing Dishes," while fresh and fun, still run in the same veins as much of his other music -- starting off slow, building into a tempo change. Johnson knows which side his bread is buttered on -- not always a band thing. Johnson even kept it all in stride when his guitar strap came loose, almost losing his guitar towards the end of the song.
Photos by Youa Vang
The acoustic stuff out of the way, Jack's band snuck onstage to join him for the rest of his set, filling out the sound and complementing Johnson's laid-back surfer sound. The crowd went crazy and hesitantly stood up after sitting politely at the opening riffs for "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing" and danced along to the rest of the evening.
What's amazing about Jack's music is that each song is catchy. While it may be formulaic -- slow-tempoed open, quick-tempoed verse, chorus, bridge -- each one sounds original, and most importantly, fun. The same could be said for Jack. He looks like an average guy, but onstage, the singer is the ultimate performer, commanding everyone in the crowd's attention.
Many of Johnson's songs talk about relationships -- good or bad -- and spin them into stories that make you lean in and want to hear more such as "Wasting Time" and "If I Had Eyes." While most include a festive feel -- heck, he even brought out the ukelele for "Don't Believe a Thing I Say" -- some even have a country music vibe to them like "Shot Reverse Shot." Some fans went crazy on the balcony during "Banana Pancakes" where the houselights came on for a sing-along. This segued into Jack telling a story of how he urged a man during Bonnaroo into climbing a tree to go higher. "Not a good idea," he confessed. A good idea was to include a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" at the end of his regular set.
While Mason Jennings was the treat of the evening, Johnson's encore was the icing on the cake. The opening track off his new album "I Got You" is the perfect piece for weddings -- simple, lovely, and delightfully sunny. At the turning point in their career, Black Eyed Peas sampled Jack's "Gone" for their song "Gone (Going)," but in Johnson's hands, it still retains its core message -- that material things are basically worthless in the end. The night couldn't end without the hit "Better Together," but "Home" off From Here to Now to You was the perfect ending to the evening. The song has Johnson longing for all the things and moments that happen at home while he's on the road -- a perfect way to allow everyone a glimpse into his world.
Critic's bias: I have forgotten how many songs of Jack's that I like. While he may be in the same realm as Dave Matthews Band, Johnson has a broader appeal with his pop music.
The crowd: Many Cities 97 listeners.
Overheard in the crowd: I don't think anyone could miss the lady behind me and her constant request for "Staple It Together."
Random notebook dump: Jack is not just an amazing performer, but also a humanitarian. Besides being environmentally friendly, in the past, the singer has donated 100% of his tour profits to charity, and he most likely will for this tour too.
Do You Remember
I Love You and Buddha Too (Mason Jennings)
Living in the Moment (Mason Jennings)
As I Was Saying
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
Shot Reverse Shot
If I Had Eyes
From the Clouds
One On Zeros
Don't Believe a Thing I Say
Staple It Together
Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin)
At or With Me
I Got You
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