If there was ever a night for Hawaiian-born singer-songwriter Jack Johnson to feel at home in Ireland, it was this. On a warm, sunny Monday evening, with temperatures reaching up to 27 degrees, Johnson was met by a loving crowd dying to be seduced by his laid-back persona and music that would take you all the way to Honolulu with a single strum. Oh yes, this was the perfect night for Jack Johnson.
Following support from the Wexford duo, The Ocelots, Johnson arrived onstage with his band to one of the warmest welcomes so far experienced at this year’s Marquee performances, before launching straight into one of his early hits, If I Had Eyes. Johnson and his band oozed confidence and were as tight and consistent despite early sound issues.
Sitting, Waiting Wishing was one of the early crowd pleasers, with phones across the packed tent raising as soon as the opening chord echoed across the venue. On top of this, a short cover of the Cranberries’ Linger inserted in between choruses which was met by loud cheers of appreciation as the band onstage laughed amongst themselves at the tributes success. A momentary break arrives as Johnson and his bassist chatter amongst themselves to determine the first chord of the next song Upside Down.
It’s around this time, however, that the heat and humidity within the tent began to become apparent to all in attendance, and streams of people could be seen filing out in an effort to get some air and water. Johnson stopped to make sure everyone at the front were hydrated. The show, however, must go on and Johnson continued his sun-fueled sing-alongs, telling stories about his surfing trip to Ireland in 1997 and the message behind his anti-Trump anthem My Mind Is Not For Sale.
Johnson has always been at the fore of the environmental conversation, following numerous recycling and environmental campaigns including the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, the charity he set up with his wife in 2003. Since then, his tours have been regarded as the most environmentally friendly in the music industry.
Johnson’s stage dressing reflects this with reclaimed lanterns from the beaches of Hawaii hanging across the stage to symbolise the continued struggle of plastic waste being dumped on beaches across the world.
In Cork, however, it wasn’t only his environmental awareness that shone through as his set drew to a close. The Ocelots returned onstage to perform one of Johnson’s earlier hits, Breakdown, alongside him, before Banana Pancake set the place alight, as the band’s pianist whipped out an accordion for the instrumental breakdown.
Shot, Reverse Shot was probably the moment that really highlighted the technical ability that the band brought to the table, both visually and audibly, as the stage lighting turned on and off in-time with the strums of the Johnson’s guitar.
Johnson emerged for a solo encore of Home, A Pirate Looks At Forty and Angel before the set was capped off with his biggest hitv Better Together, for which the band appeared out of nowhere to accompany him. With all in attendance singing back every word like a classic Christmas tune, it was the icing on the cake to what was always going to be a memorable evening.