Jack Johnson @ The Plenary (with Paula Fuga and John Cruz) – 16 Dec ’13

A strange mix of people looming in the foyer of a convention centre, ranging from an after work crowd to groups of bleach haired surfers meandering around and everything seems just a little out of place amongst the wood panelling and green upholstery of the Plenary on a Monday evening.

But a simple greeting of ‘Aloha’  from Paula Fuga and the delight of Winter Swell Blues transporting a room of people away from the strange setting into a different place and time. The dreamlike trance of Sweetness was uprooted by the ruts of cycles in life with Tangle and sharing the beautiful Parachute with the instantly recognisable influence of Jack Johnson as a co-writer.

With John Cruz joining Paula on stage, sounds became bigger and richer with guitar and harmonies, with the soul-filled One of these Days and the simplicity of Shine On.

It was almost like three acts for the support with John Cruz then entertaining with solo material, the inescapable feel-good sounds of Hurricane, Hawaiian vibes and the adventure of a Mexican Bus.

Everything on stage suggested a band would be on stage but as the stage was illuminated by a spotlight, Jack Johnson began solo with Do You Remember and then bravely asked for “any requests?” to be met by a raucous flurry of mumblings and shouts amongst which Good People was chosen before the band shortly joined for As I was Saying.

Jack Johnson @ The Plenary

Jack Johnson @ The Plenary

Another invitation for any requests led to Upside Down and the classic Taylor with praise for the sing-alongs, continuing into Sitting, Waiting, Wishing. The unofficial ‘best of’ collection of tunes slowed downed momentarily for Fortunate Fool and after hearing requests again from the crowd, Flake never ceasing to astound as evident from the receptive cheers.

Things calmed down for a little while, but the all too familiar sounds of Bubble Toes picked up the pace and energy again, before the footwear compliments filled the air in At or With Me.

There may have been a newer album that could have contributed to the set, but focus remained on the popular, including travelling back to Inaudible Melodies before inviting Paula Fuga back on stage for Country Road, and John Cruz for Island Style, truly bringing some island spirit to the room.

The focus returned to the familiar tunes of Jack Johnson with Breakdown, and the rare newer tune with Tape Deck enchanting with its reminiscent tale and melody before the bound of energy in Shot Reverse Shot and wrapping everything up with the sheer joy of Mudfootball.

The inevitable encore brought with it the clap-alongs to I Got You, It was time to take advantage of the silly season again, making Christmas Carols cool with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with the lyrics getting a little revamp. Clearly wanting to continue the entertainment, Angel and Better Together with everyone in fine voice wasn’t enough to wrap up events, with Home drawing the evening to a close.

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