Jack Johnson Live Review at The Lowry, Salford September 2013

There are very few artists who could make a Greater Manchester theatre such as The Lowry feel like an intimate social club, yet the down-to-earth honesty and minimalistic style that Jack Johnson has adopted creates a sense of peaceful harmony that does just that.

Jack Johnson

Salford associated artist L.S. Lowry would be proud of the venue's artistic architecture with its impressive glass designs and high ceilings surrounding the impressive Lyric Theatre, and the 1,730 padded seats that create the perfect laid back atmosphere which the music caters to. 

A spotlight illuminates the seemingly empty stage to reveal three guitars as a remarkably ordinary looking man dressed in a T-shirt and jeans walks into view. The long build-up to reveal just a single man and a guitar could've been a let-down, however the surfer-turned-musician soon sends the crowd into an excited buzz as he addresses them with his latest single 'I Got You'.

The singer asks for recommendations from his listeners before playing 'Do You Remember'. Jack acknowledges the length of time he has been performing by altering the lyrics from "ten years" to "twenty years" and, with that sort of experience, it's no surprise he has been allocated a two hour slot.  

Jack's method of crowd interaction, often addressing individuals rather than the audience as a whole, can sometimes disconnect him from the rest of the spectators - but things change once his band ensemble join him on stage.

People barely resist the urge to dance while others clap their hands to the united beats of the piano and drums during 'Sitting, Waiting, Wishing'. For every early hit Jack plays, we hear a new song from latest album 'From Here, To Now, To You' which, although engaging, doesn't enthral the audience in the same way as his classic hits. But then maybe they are taking some getting used to - it does seem to feel a little under-practised when at one point he hits a wrong chord which he then cheerfully dismisses with a joke. 

A man older than him, with more hair on his chest than in his pony tail, climbs the stage and removes his shirt before giving it to Jack, who exchanges it for his own, finishing his set in the sweat soaked borrowed top. His final song is a new one called 'Home', after which he exits the stage to tumultuous applause from the dazed fans that range from O'Neill surfer types to elderly women. It is the lack of anything (including effort) which makes a Jack Johnson show so enticing, captivating the audience with simple melodies and chord progression. 

Salford may be home to the BBC, but nothing they could have shown could have contended with the live entertainment of a man, his guitar and his long honed songwriter skills who can charm a crowd with barely more than a couple of chords and some mushy lyrics. 


Harry Hawcroft

Official Site - http://jackjohnsonmusic.com