True to his music, Jack Johnson’s performance at Coral Sky Amphitheatre was exactly how I pictured it: playful and laid-back. Although the outdoor venue was packed with Johnson fans and enthusiasts, the atmosphere was akin to a small, intimate house party gathering. Everyone showed up in ponchos and rain boots due to some pretty soggy weather, but by the time Jack and his band came on stage, it was like his Hawaiian blood transformed the space into a bonfire on the beach.
Twinkling mason jars filled with colorful pieces of plastic collected from the ocean (a haunting yet beautiful illustration of modern pollution) swayed breezily in strands overhead. People swayed from side to side, nodding in tune to the beats and singing along softly.
Jack opened the show with “Sitting, Wishing, Waiting,” skipping the usual bold spotlight for softer stage lights. He quickly segued into “I Won’t Back Down,” in tribute to the late Tom Petty, followed by hits “Taylor,” “Staple It Together,” and “You and Your Heart.” The show was a combination of classic throwbacks intermixed with new hits from his July 2017 album, “All the Light About It Too.” Jack treats concertgoers like close friends, laughing and sharing stories about his college days and his kids. One especially sweet story went like this: His son was misbehaving so Jack said he’d grow a monkey tail with an eyeball at the end if he didn’t stop. His kid was delighted by the prospect, and pretended he had a monkey tail, looking at his dad and saying “You look good!” The story segued into, what else, “If I Had Eyes.” Jack even jokingly pretending to push fellow band member and instrumentalist Zach Gill off the stage.
Gill, for his part, is a great sport, and there’s a genuine friendship between the two musicians that runs way deeper than music. And Gill is an amazingly gifted pianist. He played some killer solos on “Flake,” “Big Sur,” and “Wasting Time,” to name a few. But he’s also excellent on the accordion and the melodica, a blow-organ harmonica with a keyboard attachment, which he played vibrantly. He was best when he was standing on his piano, blurting out notes on the melodica. It looked wildly fun.
Jack saved “Banana Pancakes,” till the show’s nearing end, and the crowd responded in thankful applause. For the encore, Jack came back solo, opening with “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” a nod to our homegrown singer Jimmy Buffet, then rounding it out with four more songs—some quite uh, emotion-evoking—including a silly one about getting stoned with Willie Nelson. All in all, it was the perfect ending to a long day at the office, and the perfect starter to the almost weekend. Aloha.
Sitting, Wishing, Waiting
I Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty cover)
Taylor Staple It Together
You and Your Heart
The Horizon Has Been Defeated
You Can’t Control It
My Mind Is for Sale
You Don’t Know How It Feels (Tom Petty cover)
If I Had Eyes
I Got You
Shot Reverse Shot
Bubble Toes/The Joker
A Pirate Looks at Forty
Do You Remember
Willie Got Me Stoned