Deer Lake Park played host a packed field this past Thursday as Jack Johnson travelled through town on his 2013-2014 tour bringing The Animal Liberation Orchestra along as his opening band. Unfortunately, fellow opener, Michael Kiwanuka, was unable to perform due to health concerns, but as they say in show business “the show must go on”, and it do so splendidly.

To begin with, Deer Lake Park is such a wonderful location, and as a place for a concert, few spots in Canada can boast as picturesque a view. From the entrance inward, manicured fields of green grass cool festival goers at the top where assorted tents, booths, and food tucks are arranged before giving way to a gentle slope which acts as a natural amphitheatre for the stage which boasts stands of tall trees on either sides and is positioned at the bottom and in front of the lake.


Entry to the grounds was a breeze, and the chattering buzz of fellow music lovers was soon exchanged for the summery strums of ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) who served to warm up the crowd before Jack Johnson took the stage. Unlike other outdoor events, this concert did not require beer to be consumed in a designated location, but they did keep the purchase to the standard two beer maximum. However, the audience for the evening’s artists tend to be responsible and the only intoxicating thing concert goers on this evening would consume would turn out to be the music.

A HUGE plus (which also speaks volumes about the entertainer as a person) was the passport idea whereby concert goers were provided with a small piece of paper which they could have stamped for an assortment of environmentally friendly activities at the show, everything from carpooling, to recycling, to filling up with water. In return, fans who received all the available stamps were entered into a draw for a chance to watch the entire show from the side of the stage.

I learned this all when speaking with one of the kind folks at one of the many great local Not For Profit Partner tents located on the grounds. For those who are interested, here is a list of the local partners:

The above is all part of the larger program put together by All At Once, one of Jack Johnson’s Non Profit initiatives. For more details, please the Jack Johnson 2013-2014 Tour Greening web page for a complete list of all the ways Jack and his label, Brushfire Records, are working to reduce their collective footprint on our enrivonment.

As for the show itself, Jack and his band put on a lengthy and entertaining evening spanning several of his best known, a few lesser-knowns, and a few new songs off his latest album. The stage setting felt as though it were aiming for a nautical/beach theme with planks of reclaimed wood serving as a backdrop, metal pulley systems, and looping red ropes tied to the side. The light above Jack was a curious looking lamp, circular so perhaps nautical as well, it’s warming yellowish glow casting on Jack as the sun might when setting.

Here is the set list for the evening:

Hope ****
Taylor **
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing ***
Symbol in My Driveway **
You and Your Heart *****
Radiate ******
If I Had Eyes ****
Bubble Toes *
Fadeaway (Buddy Holly cover)
Mudfootball *
Wasting Time **
Never Fade ******
Breakdown ***
Constellations (with ALO) ***
Upside Down (with ALO) 1
Flake/Joker (with ALO) *
Tape Deck ******
Banana Pancakes ***
Shot Reverse Shot ******
Staple it Together ***
Inaudible Melodies *
At Or With Me (Hendrix) *****
Good People ***

_________

Encore

* Brushfire Fairytales (2001)
** On and On (2003)
*** In Between Dreams (2005)
**** Sleep Through the Static (2008)
***** To the Sea (2010)
****** From Here to Now to You (2013)

1 Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George (2006)


The delivery on this evening was equally as loose or tight as required and coupled with his charming humbleness throughout. At one point, Jack apologized for messing up the chords to a song, and asserted that any errors made on stage that night would be his alone and that he was on stage with some true professionals. Speaking of his band, on stage with Jack were Zach Gill (also of ALO) on piano, Merlo Podlewski on bass guitar, and Adam Topol on drums. As with all great shows, they only occur when every band member buys into the message of the music, and then sells it to a crowd equally willing to buy, and this evening was no exception.

As the sun lowered in the background, up front the music ebbed and flowed. There was both a substantial crowd at the front with their arms raised singing along, and concert-goers along the sides sitting on the grass- the mellow-cool-warmth of Jack Johnson soothing the earth. This was not a show for stage diving antics, but one comprised of plenty of reasons to groove.

Jack Johnson and his band are currently working through their West Coast Tour with several stops down the coast in California. If you have a chance, you should certainly check the Official Jack Johnson website for show dates and Ticketmaster/Live Nation for same day ticket releases.

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