After eight years of waiting, Hawaiian singer songwriter Jack Johnson has finally returned to a sun soaked Eden Sessions stage for an unforgettable evening in front of a sold out intimate audience of just over 6000.
Nick Mulvey Warms Up
Admittedly we only caught the tail-end of Nick’s act, but can see why he was picked to support Jack; with a shared musical DNA in style and sound in which both intertwined later to perform an enjoyable and impromptu rendition of ‘I Shall be Released’, written by Bob Dylan.
Jack takes to the stage
Jack Johnson was supported by Marlow on bass guitar, Adam on drums and Zach Gill on his charming ‘town hall’ styled piano, accordion and melodica. The latter instrument could arguably be the star of this Eden Session on occasion, due to the sheer spirit of attention Zach paid to it whilst dancing on top of his piano! The whole atmosphere on stage was easy going, almost as if they were on the beach jamming away gazing at the sun setting. Despite Jack taking requests from the audience and receiving a few songs that he and his band weren’t entirely sure about the sequence to, the entire session was fluid and masterly.
Jack kept the momentum of the Eden Session going by playing hit after hit. Diving early on into the likes of ‘Sitting, Waiting, Wishing’ and ‘Upside Down’ with all their memorable guitar riffs and stylish lyrics. These made us truly appreciate and admire how earthy Jack Johnson’s vocals are. We’ve listened to his music for over a decade, and hearing him in person definitely exceeded our already high expectations for the evening. It was relaxing, often carefree in the best of ways, and most importantly soulful, with the occasional lesser known songs from his newest album (which is brilliant) inserting themselves into the sequence quite organically. We particularly enjoyed ‘My Mind Is for Sale’ from Jack’s latest album All The Light Above It Too - describing the severe foibles of the current President of the USA in Jack’s typically deceptive simple way. But, yes, the charm and relaxing ambience of his earlier work were the headliners of this show. Our favourite Jack Johnson songs ‘Banana Pancakes’, ‘Taylor’, ‘Bubble Toes’, ‘I Got You’, ‘Inaudible Melodies’, ‘Mud Football’, ‘Girl I Wanna Lay You Down’, ‘Do You Remember', all got the attention they deserved, and the likes of ‘Girl I Wanna Lay You Down’, and a few others, were enhanced by arrangements that differ to the original album tracks. The show ended with an encore of Jack’s biggest hit ‘Better Together’ - one of our favourites from his repertoire that you just cannot get tired of; especially live!
Jack’s not just a great singer, songwriter and guitarist, but also a warm and genuine entertainer who doesn’t hold any arrogance after 25 million album sales. His casual approach to the evening was refreshing and his nautical and surfy vibes are well suited to the Cornish landscape from where he performed. He spoke to the audience as true friends; joking about answering machine message songs he has recorded with his now wife Kim and recalling the stories of how he came to write certain tracks. He sang 'Happy Birthday' to a Verity Lamb in the audience and made a particularly tall life-guard known to us all too, when he noted him in the crowd after meeting him a few days beforehand on the beach with his family. Unlike many other artists, Jack and the band travel light when it comes to staging; every venue he plays he brings along his plastic lanterns, recycled from beach waste in Hawaii, which illuminate the ceiling of the stage in different colours. Of course, there’s a smoke machine and some other lighting effects to boot, but nothing overpowers the purity of the music, and we felt this gave a deeper relationship with the audience.
The Eden Sessions venue and Jack Johnson are personable, easy going and enchanting partners. This was a perfect intimate carefree summer evening get together, sharing Jack’s stylish lyrics and a sublime complimentary feel-good band featuring the inventive Zach Gill.