Live Music + Gig Reviews

Jack Johnson @ Hammersmith Apollo, London

4 March 2006

Jack Johnson There are some days when everything in the world seems to be going against you. We’ve all had them, but tonight it’s happening to a heck of a lot of people on the London Underground.

Some bright spark had the idea to shut down major parts of the artery linking central London to the west and Heathrow Airport on weekends. At 5pm on a Saturday evening, what should have been a rudimentary hour’s journey turned into a ridiculous three hour one. Couple this with a stale shift at work and a whirring headache, could my mood have been any worse?

Cue Jack Johnson. His inexorable rise has baffled critics who don’t dig his non revolutionary “cruise ship” music. But where full time critics are overloaded with promos and devote their high brows to scouring for the next genius to pontificate or hyperbolate over, the public absorbs what feels right and taps the pulse.

So it is this musical quasi-democracy that has yielded Jack Johnson, million selling singer-songwriting superstar and, as “the industry” maybe reading this review, Brit Award Winning Best International Newcomer. Oh, and it helps the man can write a tune or two.

Whatever chaos was occurring outside the doors of the Apollo, it was shut out the moment the stage lights dimmed to the sound of Take That era female screams.

Jack Johnson could scratch his ass, pick his nose and eat it and still provoke shrills of delight. Okay, maybe not that, but pretty much anything he did was guaranteed to do so.

With projections of postcard shots (probably taken from Johnson’s backyard in Oahu) the ambience was set for an evening of plentiful feel good moments. Johnson cruised through In Between Dreams, a portion of On And On, and a few tender chunks of Brushfire Fairytales – a new definition for value for money.

It is impossible to place value on Johnson when in his free flowing element, a croon, an ooh, a simple pluck or sleight of hand which the likes of Fortunate Fool and If I Could are crafted into moments of indelible perfection.

There was a warm air to the show, almost like a get together, which is difficult to pull off in a venue of the Apollo’s size. Partly due to Johnson’s style and partly his backing band, who were as casual as can get. ALO’s Zach Gill, on piano and in his socks (complimentary to Johnson’s flip flops) every so often felt the amusing need to exercise a sit-up on his stool. The girls loved it. They loved it even more when he picked up the accordion for Belle.

Re-emerging for the encore, Johnson stayed solo for a good dozen songs, dropping Sublime‘s classic Badfish and even some Pearl Jam before ending with a sprightly Better Together.

And with that it was back onto the cold streets of London, back to thereal world. It was good to escape, for a while, while we could.

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Jack Johnson @ Hammersmith Apollo, London
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