Last Night in Cleveland: Jack Johnson


For a concert that’s as calm as the still waters of an empty pond, you sure don’t expect a crowd to be trembling with excitement. And with Jack Johnson’s reputation as one of the most relaxing acoustic musicians of the decade, you’d certainly anticipate a laid-back live show. But somehow, the most chill dude ever managed to incite screams and ear-to-ear grins from a Blossom Music Center audience that ranged from tweens to grandparents. It must be Johnson’s magic touch – an ability to turn a cold, rainy Cleveland night into a sunny Hawaiian paradise – that gives his fans an instant happy-go-lucky vibe. As if his songs about living life to the fullest weren’t enough to warm the hearts of every fan, he brought along six TV screens that beamed photos of waves, birds, and palm trees behind him ... Johnson played two hours of tranquil tunes with beach-y, almost calypso-style guitar riffs and sunny details from his backing band. The set included a mix of songs from all of his albums, but it was crowd favorites like “Bubble Toes” and “Flake” that had everyone swaying and singing along. Johnson played almost all of the songs from his latest CD, Sleep Through the Static. Best: “Go On,” a sweet tune that blended delicate piano with a slightly menacing guitar solo. And even though I expected the focus to be solely on Johnson, his bandmates were a smash. Every time they joined their leader in a bluesy instrumental break, the crowd went wild. The keyboardist even got a chance to sing (and play accordion!) during his own song, which he dedicated to his grandmother, who was in town from Columbus to watch the show. The night would have been idyllically relaxing . . . if I wasn’t stuck with hundreds of others in traffic for almost two hours after the concert. Worse sacrifices have been made for good music. Anyway, what’s the hurry? As Johnson would say, “Slow down, everyone, you’re moving too fast.” –Danielle Sills


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