Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Big Hits, Big Hats - Jack Johnson at the Royal Theatre

So me and my gorgeous wife ended up squished in between a throng of giggling teenagers, crammed up the front to see Jack Johnson on Monday night. I declined seats in favour of being able to get up close to the band. Personal space solely consisted of the space you physically occupy. Must be like living in India...

G-Love and Special Sauce
, Jack's old buddies opened the show - played a nice selection of new tunes, and some older stuff - Blues Music went down pretty nicely. Garret's freestyle rap where he called us all a "bunch of cranberrys" and fell over the mic stand was pretty amusing.

Xavier Rudd, a weird furry looking teddy bear guy with the most bizzare kit I have ever seen played next. I'd heard his Solace CD and to be honest I was a bit underwhelmed, until tonight I realised that Xavier single handledly plays every instrument himself all at once. Three didges, lap slide steel, (6 and 12 string) kick drum, glockenspiel, two splash cymbals , harmonica and a chicken shaker. The level of technical farnarkelling to get him on to the stage was amazing. And he came out and went off, much to the crowds delight. His voice is something like Bob Marley and Paul Simon. Weird, and cool.

Then Jack came out - he'd brought a keys player named Zack who had a great attitutude, and played a mean piano accordion. Drummer Adam Topol is a very accomplished and skilled jazz musician, but he kind of had an expression of intense concentration that looked a little as if he'd never seen a drum kit before. "Oh -you mean I whack this? with a stick? now?" Merlo the bass player looked like he simply couldn't care less.

Jack played everything off In Between Dreams except for Situations, Crying Shame and If I Could. He played all the favourites of Brushfire Fairytales and On and On - Flake, Posters, Inaudible Melodies, Wasting Time, Taylor, Times Like These. He brought out the most amazing ukulele I've ever heard (a martin - either antique or custom made) and played Breakdown. His encore, where he came out by himself and played campfire style was really special.

Highlights for me included covers of Sublime's BadFish, and Madonna's Holiday (complete with freestyle from G-Love and Xavier Rudd on Chicken Shaker). Oh and Mudfootball. Man- it was all great.

Go and see Jack. It will make you smile for a week.


  1. Did he play "Better when we're together"? I had to leave a few mins early, he was part way into his encore with "The News". Pity, that was one of the songs I'd been waiting for. (Or did I, like spaz, miss it earlier somehow?)

  2. He did indeed play Better Together at the end - (probably just as your car left, in fact:-) You also missed a neat medley that included Plastic Jesus> Fall Line> Spring Wind. Just before that Jack said "Y'know, I probably should go, but you guys are all so quiet and peaceful out here I just wanna keep playing..."

  3. Check out Xavier's Album "To Let". I think it's far better than his more recent "Solace" (I bought both last week) Remind me to bring it in to work.