Jack Johnson Jams “To the Sea”

Where do I start?  So, Jack Johnson came to the Amway Arena (not the new one, which is Amway Center) in Orlando to support his fifth studio release “To The Sea” and you didn’t have a ticket?  Well, I say, when a rainy, August, Central Florida day can be instantly transformed into a Hawaiian resort, you buy a ticket for that!

If I knew you well, I would even tell you that missing tonight’s show was “culturally irresponsible” and that you should rush off to either Tampa or West Palm Beach in the next couple nights and catch up with Jack.  If I had the means or the time, I would do both.

Upon entering the arena, we were greeted by All At Once staff members with our Village Green Passport encouraging us to take environmental action, meet local non-profit partners, and learn how Jack and his crew are minimizing the environmental impact of the tour  I met the people from the Simple Living Institute from right here in Central Florida.

Before we could see Jack there were some opening acts. ALO and G. Love were exceptional. ALO includes one of Jack’s musicians in Zach Gill. They played about eight songs including my favorite “Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down.”  Zach nearly jumped into the crowd during a cover of “Eye of the Tiger” inserted into the middle of another their songs.  While G. Love sits in a chair with a single spotlight, guitar and harmonica and lives up to his billing: “The Foot Stompin’ Street Side Blues of G. Love”. G. Love provided another 35 minutes of very entertaining and diverse music for a one man band. He has the humor, soul and guitar licks of John Mayer and adds in moments drawn from varying genres of music. I will be buying the music of both opening acts very soon and would recommend that you do the same.

Well, this was my first time seeing Jack. I have long wanted to see him live. We had built it up for years that we were not seeing another concert until we saw Jack.  We own almost all of his music and a surf film or two.  Jack did not disappoint!

Two hours straight through and almost thirty songs.  He played new stuff.  He played old stuff  He covered other artists and shared the spotlight with so many musicians.  The stage fluxuated from Jack alone to nearly a dozen performers playing together.  Truthfully, we were blown away at the ease with which Jack related to the crowd with many conversational give and takes from reading signs and taking requests to talking to a young kid in the front row and supplying him with protective headphones.  He even dedicated songs to certain people that he would spot in the crowd like when he started “Upside Down” he said for that kid sitting on his dad’s shoulders and gestured to them.

I had often wondered how such a mellow act would come off live in concert.  Let me tell you that it was powerful and moving!  I was emotional and blown away by how simple it was for the show to overwhelm the audience.  The stage is nearly barren.  There are no fancy sets, just musicians, instruments and a big screen backdrop.  As Jack says near the end of the show between “Do You Remember” and “Angel” both clearly written to his wife “these are songs to you, but to me they are gifts.”  After seeing Jack Johnson live tonight, his music transformed for me from songs to gifts.  Thanks, Jack!

Unofficial Set List
  • You and Your Heart
  • If I Had Eyes
  • Taylor
  • Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
  • To The Sea
  • Upside Down
  • Go On
  • Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology
  • Bubble Toes
  • From The Clouds
  • Wasting Time
  • Breakdown
  • Banana Pancakes
  • Mudfootball
  • Turn Your Love
  • Country Road (with Paula Fuga)
  • [unknown] (with Paula Fuga)
  • Flake
  • The Joker
  • Good People
  • Inaudible Melodies
  • Staple It Together (bassist Merlo Polewski sets down the bass and channels all three Beastie Boys in a verse)
  • At or With Me
  • Encore:
  • Do You Remember
  • Angel
  • A Pirate Looks at Forty
  • Better Together (with Paula Fuga, G. Love and ALO)
I do not know what the attendance was tonight, but the arena had to be near capacity.  If you were not one of them, promise yourself that you will catch Jack at the very next chance you get.  Keep an eye out for G. Love and Zach Gill as I expect them to be household names very soon.
And as an FYI for those of you into the green scene, “To The Sea” was recorded at Johnson’s two solar-powered studios: The Mango Tree in Hawaii and the Solar Powered Plastic Plant in Los Angeles.
This review was written by Guest Blogger Extraordinaire Mike Kennedy, Central Florida resident, dad, blogger, and avid swim and beach fan. His blog can be seen at The Mike Kennedy and he can be followed on twitter at @themikekennedy.
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Filed under Amway Arena, Celebrity, concert, Fun, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire, Music

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