Campenelli Stadium- September 15, 2005
Johnson Surfs the Outfield
By: Rory Flynn
Taking stage with just an acoustic guitar and an arsenal of easy-going and relaxing songs, Jack Johnson did what he does best last Thursday night, made people happy. For the sold-out crowd of roughly 11,000 at Brockton’s Campanelli Stadium, the it was just what they needed.
Though most of his fans share his same mild outlook on life, many were not happy to find themselves in absurd traffic along Route 24 that was backed up for miles. By the time, they made it to the parking lot they found the admission lines still filled, even with the Hawaiian native having been on stage for up to twenty minutes.
Once fans got into the ballpark, it seemed as though they had descended into a frat house lawn party. The large playing field allowed ample space for attendees to dance away without spilling their beers that were flowing from the taps all night. Such a sight was evident support for the many comparisons that Johnson has been receiving of late to veteran beach rocker Jimmy Buffet (whom made a guest appearance for a couple of songs in Johnson’s recent Chicago tour stop). However, as great as the luau atmosphere was, the confines of Campanelli Stadium were not best suited for Johnson’s mellow grooves. The acoustics were lost in the wide-open area and the lack of any video screen to project his image was also a disappointment.
That being said, the retired surfing champion turned alternative folk-pop rock star’s performance was still very strong. Most of Johnson’s set was dedicated to material off his latest and arguably best release, In Between Dreams. Johnson opened the show playfully with “Never Know” and despite a forecast that said otherwise, the clouds cleared and the rain held off ironically during “Banana Pancakes”. One of the highlights of Jackson’s set was the reggae themed “Staple It Together” that featured the piano play of Zach Gill and the funky beats of drummer Adam Tupol.
Of course, Johnson included fan favorites “Taylor” and “The Horizon Has Been Defeated” off the 2003 release On and On, as well as “Flake” and “Bubble Toes” from his debut album Brushfire Fairytales.
One of the more intriguing aspects of Johnson’s live show is his numerous mid-song covers. Everything from The Temptations’ “My Girl” to Sublime’s “Bad Fish” to The White Stripes recent single, “My Doorbell,” were tagged along during the middle of Johnson’s own tunes. The creative and easy transitions made through these were quite entertaining. In a full-length cover, Johnson along with opening act Matt Costa, played a great rendition of The Beatles’ “Two of Us.”
As Johnson closed out the night with the soulful love ballad, “Better Together”, it was clear that despite delivering a great performance, he ideally fit for a smaller venue along the harbor in Boston. Hopefully next time around, Johnson bypasses the home field of his brother-in-law’s minor league baseball team (Joey Baker is a pitcher for the Brocton Rox and suggested that he play there) and takes stage at a venue more fitting to his mellow acoustics and charming vocals.