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Jack Johnson Rocks Mellow Set at L.A.'s Orpheum Theatre: Concert Review

Jack Johnson Orpheum - P 2013
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The Bottom Line

Jack Johnson delivers a crowd-pleasing set at an intimate show.

Venue

Orpheum Theatre 
(Saturday, Oct. 19)

 

The surfer-singer-songwriter performed to a sold-out crowd in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday night.

Jack Johnson brought his mellow vibes to an appreciative sold-out crowd Saturday night at downtown Los Angeles' Orpheum Theatre as part of his From Here to Now to You tour.

The intimate show -- the venue holds just over 2,000 people -- found the Hawaii-based surfer-singer-songwriter mixing his charting singles with several songs from his new album (also titled From Here to Now to You), which became his fourth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 upon its release last month. Johnson had an easygoing banter with the crowd; at one point, he even said he'd take requests -- and many in the audience were happy to oblige, shouting out their favorite song titles.

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Clad in flip-flops, jeans and a T-shirt, Johnson kicked off the show with quieter, solo performances of "Do You Remember" and "Good People" but by the end of the night was rocking out with his band to "Mudfootball" and "Staple It Together." On the latter, bass player Merlo Podlewski even performed a crowd-pleasing rap, just one of many musical styles to make cameos during the two-hour set. While much of the audience remained in their seats for the first several songs, Johnson got them on their feet for the remainder of the show by joking that "everybody in the balcony area was already dancing."

Among his more well-known songs, the singer drew cheers when he played his debut single, 2002's "Flake"; "Bubble Toes" (a mash-up with Steve Miller Band's "The Joker"); and "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing" (another mash-up, with The Cars' "Just What I Needed"). Before performing "Good People" -- which Johnson called his "most cynical song" -- he shared that he wrote the tune after being "bummed out" about a reality TV show production moving into his North Shore neighborhood. Asked by the star to write a song for the show -- he didn't reveal his true feelings to her -- he penned "Good People." "It didn't make it into the show, but I don't think she'd have been happy about it," he said, referring to lyrics like "You win, it's your show, now/ So what's it gonna be/ 'Cause people will tune in/ How many train wrecks do we need to see?"

Among the new songs he performed were a solo version of "I Got You," the lead single off his new album, along with "Radiate," "Washing Dishes" and "Shot Reverse Shot." In a nod to his Hawaiian heritage, Johnson showed off his ukulele skills on "Breakdown," but props also must be given to bandmember Zach Gill, who entertained with no fewer than five instruments throughout the night, including a piano, keyboard, xylophone, accordion and harmonica.

During one amusing (and endearing) moment, Johnson played a song he said once served as the outgoing message on his family's answering machine. The lyrics: "I got a girl/ Her name is Kimmy/ She likes to do the shimmy shimmy shimmy/ She's got a man, his name is Jack/ They were gone, but they'll be back/ You know what to do, please know the rules/ Just leave your name and number too/ We'll call you back or maybe or not/ 'Cause Jack is lazy, but Kimmy's got/ Good, good manners." He then earned more laughs by playing a message he once left for his wife that he dubbed a "Get out of the doghouse" tune.

During the encore, Johnson surprised fans with an appearance by Hawaiian reggae/soul singer Paula Fuga, a former tourmate with whom he's collaborated many times, to perform on several songs, including "Turn Your Love" and "Better Together." The two also showed off their exceptional whistling skills on "Country Road."

He closed out his show with "Home," from the new album, which he told the crowd was written after he excitedly returned home after one tour only to find his garden overrun with weeds and his attic infiltrated by birds -- and then he couldn't wait to go back on tour. "It doesn't matter where your home is; home is where your family is," he told the crowd. "This is home, and thank you for making us feel home."

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If there is a more laid-back recording artist than Johnson, it has to be his Toronto-based opening act Bahamas (who also joined Johnson on a few songs). Frontman Afie Jurvanen, who previously was part of Feist's touring band, charmed the audience with his sense of humor: At one point, he joked that he wanted to introduce the band -- and then proceeded to introduce them to one another; before performing the melancholy "Never Again," he quipped that it was a song he "tried to sell to R. Kelly, but he didn't want it."

The group's half-hour set also included such songs as "Hockey Teeth," from their first album, 2009's Pink Strat (the song, written as a loving tribute to a woman in his life who had less-than-perfect teeth, drew appreciative laughs from the crowd), and "I Got You Babe" off their second (and most recent) album, 2012's Barchords.

Set List
Do You Remember
Good People
As I Was Saying
Washing Dishes
Taylor
Flake
Tomorrow Morning
Bubble Toes/The Joker
At or With Me/Crosstown Traffic
Wasting Time
If I Had Eyes

Inaudible Melodies
Radiate
Don't Believe a Thing I Say (with Bahamas)
Breakdown (with Bahamas)

Tape Deck
Banana Pancakes
Shot Reverse Shot
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing/Just What I Needed
Staple It Together
Mudfootball

Encore
I Got You
Country Road (with Paula Fuga)
Turn Your Love (with Paula Fuga)
Better Together (with Paula Fuga)
Home (with Paula Fuga and Bahamas)