Hobbling onto stage whilst overlooking the brilliant Sydney Harbour, a crutch-bearing Jack Johnson nonchalantly greeted the audience with some clearly evident news.
“So, I’ve screwed up my knee pretty good” he says. However, he reassured the audience that all would prevail, adding “but I don’t play guitar with my knee.” His calm and worry-free demeanour was nothing less than fans on the forecourt were expecting from the Hawaiian based artist.
Sprawled across the simple, nautical-themed stage under dawning buoy lights, was a minimal band equipped with piano, bass, and drums.
Feeling as if you were a guest in Johnson’s living room, he announced he’d be taking requests and addressed the shouting audience members with reassurance that hits like Better Together would be played before the end of the night.
As an uplifting and ironic starter, Johnson played sitting, waiting, wishing and the two-hour set began as the chilled crown swayed along underneath the dimmed lights of the most iconic architecture in Sydney.
Through the concert’s progression, the array of instruments grew and the talented keyboardist, Zach Gill enthralled the crowd with a melodica solo and eventually revealed some more than decent pipes to accompany Jack’s vocals.
Despite his smooth vocal delivery, Johnson stumbled on lyrics of No Other Way with several attempts to remember the words. Despite several clumsy slips, Johnson’s laugh-it-off attitude and light-hearted pleas for his band to help him out, made the situation an endearing speed bump in the night’s intended setlist.
With the show rolling on like the projected waves on the stage’s backdrop, Johnson regaled us with stories of stolen computers in Byron Bay and his overall love of Australia, where he’s written a large number of songs.
Sharing insights into his playful writing style, Johnson shared how a serendipitous act for his wife’s attention led to the hit Banana Pancakes…Followed by a humorous ode to Willie Nelson with song, Willie Got Me Stoned and Stole All My Money.
At the show’s close, Jack returned to stage for a solo encore where he performed the much requested and anticipated hit, Better Together.
Overall, the show was a breath of fresh air and included all expected hits, while also including a few new numbers like Big Sur, Sunsets for Somebody Else, and the politically-charged My Mind is for Sale. Audience members walked away from the show feeling more at peace with the world and as if Jack was nothing more than an old mate who jumped on stage for the night.
Words by Rae Sturm.
All photos below by Dara Munnis, check out the full gallery below –