Jack Johnson rules demanding audience

KASHKA TURNSTALL
Last updated 09:40 04/12/2013
Jack Johnson.
SUPPLIED

CHILLED: Hawaiian musician Jack Johnson.

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It must be a little more than two hours when he finally puts the guitar down.

And It is hard to believe he's left a song unplayed, a string unplucked.

But he has. There's people sighing and pouting as they walk out; "He didn't play Upside Down."
I don't blame him though.

Jack Johnson's catalogue is extensive - he's drawing on six albums worth of tunes in shows for this latest tour promoting his new album From Here to Now to You.

The long reigning king of easy listening played the small stage at ASB Theatre in Auckland last night.

8.50pm - right on time - Jack on to the stage. Chilled out. T-shirt, jeans and jandals. With no fanfare, he picks up a guitar and starts to play.

Do You Remember? from third album In Between Dreams opens the show, setting the tone with his smooth vocals before his finger slide over the strings and the melody subtly changes into track Gone.

He calls for request, meets a rabid audience - loud, partially drunk and demanding. Rowdy and yelling like they're at a high school assembly.

But he smiles, amused by the enthusiasm, indulges and plays.

It feels like the whole show is sets within sets. First him alone with an acoustic, then the three piece band comes on as he plays As I Was Saying.

The four go on to play most of his commercial hits in quick succession - Taylor, Flake, and Sitting, Waiting, Wishing.
He picks up his electric guitar and pushes up the energy with old faithfuls Bubble Toes, Brushfire Fairytale and Breakdown.

He plays track Tape Deck off the new album, followed by a mash up of Belle, Banana Pancakes and Steve Miller Band's The Joker.

It's about then all the highlights come in one big burst. The keys man, who has provided depth to the show and proven himself the most versatile musician on stage with a myriad of instruments, breaks out into a solo on an accordion.

Then the bassist, a chilled out figure on the fringe of the stage for most of the show, picks up the mic and raps out a track.

It feels like watching a jam session rather than a concert. A good spirited Johnson occasionally forgets words and chords, and makes chitter chatter mid song. It's a comfortable kind of atmosphere.

A modified Jack Johnson version of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer brings the festive spirit into the encore, Angel has the women in the audience swooning and final track Better Together gets a soft-supported sing along from the swaying audience.

So, yeah, I think the disappointed fans who basked in two hours of chilled out, peaceful vocals should pack it in.

30-plus songs on, I think they got their money's worth.

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