Musicians today who compose music expressing thoughts and messages other than those relating to sex, drugs and drinking, promiscuous activity, or even just the classic love song are few and far between. Those seeking feel-good music or something to wind down to at the end of the day can always turn to Jack Johnson, currently on a world tour promoting his new album To the Sea.
The 35-year-old Hawaii native performed to a full house on Aug. 24 at Orlando’s Amway Arena and is known for his save-the-environment advocation. Thus, attendees were encouraged to stroll “The Village Green,” where they had the opportunity to listen to different environmental groups, make donations and sign pledges. In doing so, a person would receive a stamp on a card that was then entered into a drawing for seats on stage for the show. One hundred percent of the donations made during the tour were to be donated to charity.
Opening for Johnson was band ALO plus solo acoustic artist and long-time friend G. Love. The two performances were similar musically with strong input of harmonic instruments. However, they appealed to opposite audiences with the parent-age group preferring ALO and the crowd’s youth raving for G. Love. Anticipation built as the arena filled up, until Johnson made his 9 p.m. entrance to the stage. Beginning with the first single from To the Sea, “You and Your Heart,” Johnson had the audience immediately connect with him through foot and finger tapping to outright singing and dancing to the upbeat tune about remaining true to your heart and self.
Johnson maintained an upbeat and meaningful connection with the audience throughout the performance, such as pointing to a young boy on his dad’s shoulders and dedicating the next song to them (Johnson’s father recently passed away, and Johnson’s album To the Sea was dedicated to him). During the performance of “Good People,” audience members embraced while the lights in their section were turned on for the song’s chorus lyrics, “where did the good people go?”
Fortunately, Johnson recognized that the majority of fans in attendance preferred to hear older hits such as “Banana Pancakes” and “Inaudible Melodies” as opposed to songs from his latest album. However, Johnson is to be commended for his inclusion of former friends and coworkers such as Hawaii’s Paula Fuga in “Turn Your Love” on the new album.
The performance left viewers with enough energy to bring Johnson back on for an encore. During these last few songs, Johnson revealed to the audience that these were songs written for his wife and then ended the set list with an emotive and heartwarming pair of songs.
As a whole, Jack Johnson delivered more than a melodically carefree entertainment at the concert. He instilled the idea of going green to all attendees and promoted planetary unity.