Jack Johnson. Surfer, singer-songwriter and all-round cool guy. You know the deal; you've seen the adverts; you probably own his latest album. Or your sister does at any rate. Is there really anything else to say about this most laidback of guys from Hawaii?
If I sound ambivalent about the man, that's not really the case. I do rather like him. It's illegal not to at the moment, right? And there is something endearing about the simplicity of his music, something infectious and good-natured it's impossible to resist. Jack Johnson encapsulates that sensation of sitting outdoors amongst friends with the setting summer sun at your back and a cool drink in your hand, whilst one of your number bangs away agreeably at his guitar. Even if you've never experienced a moment like that in your life, a Jack Johnson song can make you feel like you have.
It's this angst-free and rather hippy-ish demeanour that makes him so agreeable; he's the antithesis of your average introspective acoustic types. And, if you follow the thinking that it's much harder to successfully convey happiness, in writing, in song, than misery, a man not without talent. So he just about gets away with hitting every cliché down the live DVD road on this new release. Handheld camerawork that flicks randomly between black and white and colour for 'artistic' effect. Check. All-boys-together behind the scenes footage that looks like it was probably far more fun to film than to watch. Check...
This two-disc set comprises concert footage from the Hearst Greek Theatre in California shot earlier this year with a second DVD featuring Johnson's 2004 tour of Japan. The first disc is the longer of the two but features a little too much waffle from Johnson's bandmates mixed in with the live material. They seem like a cool bunch of guys having a cool time of things, but, really, enough already - get back to the music.
The second disc is far more interesting. More concise, it's well shot, even if the director does once again dip into his bag of well-worn signifiers to depict Japan. Fast motion shots, time-lapse imagery, Johnson wandering about this big buzzy city looking more than a little Lost In Translation? All present and correct. Plus there's a fair few opportunities to see a shirtless Johnson hit the waves, which I'm sure will please a certain portion of his fan-base.
The Tokyo disc also features a brief Making Of... documentary concerning Johnson's third album In Between Dreams. Shown jamming in his Hawaii studio, it's another chance to revel in just what a decent, well-adjusted bloke he is. If you were hoping to glimpse an Elton-esque hissy fit, you'll be disappointed. But then, if you were hoping to see that, chances are you wouldn't be opting to watch this in the first place.
Johnson may make Nice music for Nice people but you'd have to be a pretty hardened cynic to take against him too much for that fact. He's a genuine character who makes soul-warming if dependable music. And he occupies a niche that no one else was hurrying to fill. If you're not yet suffering from Jack Johnson saturation then this DVD may well be worth adding to your collection.