Jack Johnson’s Meet the Moonlight tour with Ziggy Marley had its second stop in Tampa, Florida on August 19th. After a five-year break from his last album, All The Light Above It Too, Johnson’s latest work by the same name as the tour, was warmly welcomed by fans with his continued, easy to love and listen to sound.
Marley took the stage first alongside his wide crew of almost ten other musicians. With the stage washed in red, yellow, and green lights, the crowd swayed with waves of positivity. Marley played a combination of both Bob Marley, his father, and his own work. There was a special feeling of gratitude and pride in the air as Ziggy Marley would close his eyes with hands extended to the crowd hearing his father’s words being chanted back to him by the audience.
Johnson would take the stage next, opening with Hope from his 2008 album, Sleep Through The Static. Over the course of the night, Johnson gave the feeling that he wasn’t promoting his new album, but rather, just playing the music he loved for the people who loved it. During the concert, Johnson would only play three songs off his newest release that he sprinkled throughout his set, those being One Step Ahead, Costume Party, and Don’t Look Now.
Rather than focus on promotion, he focused on the atmosphere he was creating. It was an environment of love and happiness. With his trio of musicians by his side, Johnson was able to make the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre, a venue with a capacity of 20,000 patrons, feel like an intimate “campfire” song session as the singer himself put it.
Couples held each other with arms wrapped around one another. Friends stood side by side, clasping their hands together in the air swaying to Johnson’s iconic surf rock sound. Parents watched their young children play air guitar between the rows of seats, sometimes accidentally matching the rhythm of Johnson’s playing. The Amphitheatre held the beautiful feeling of humans expressing the best parts of themselves.
Johnson told the crowd a story of when he first saw Ziggy Marley in Hawaii. His friend had just gotten his permit and they went to watch Marley’s concert, he told the crowd he was amazed to see someone practically his age on stage, making sure to let them know “that show smelled just like this one” which earned him an overwhelming round of applause. He would later invite Marley back on stage to perform High Tide or Low Tide as a duo off of Bob Marley’s 1973 album Catch a Fire. The audience erupted with Marley’s words, alongside clouds of smoke.
It was clear throughout the night that Johnson loves to tell stories. Of course, through his lyrics, but also between songs. He would open up multiple times throughout the night talking with the crowd about how these songs had come to be. Before playing Don’t Look Now off of his newest album, he told the story of its creation. For context, Tampa takes pride in the rooster and chicken populations in our city. It’s kind of our thing. Johnson would reference these birds and begin his story.
His son constantly complains to him that there is a rooster, always waking him up each morning with his crowing. His son always mentions that he just wants to kill this rooster, to which Johnson never approves but urges him to trap or relocate the rooster instead. Of course, his son doesn’t want to hear this advice over breakfast and instead repeats that he just wants to kill the bird. So, Johnson picked up his guitar, and began to sing in his kitchen. He sang about the consequences of your actions when killing the rooster which would later become Don’t Look Now. The album version loses the line of killing the rooster, but Johnson did lace the line back into the song for the audience’s enjoyment.
This was not Johnson’s only story, nor was it his only lyric manipulation. After closing out his concert with Good People off of 2005’s In Between Dreams, the show became more intimate. Johnson would return to the stage alone, with nothing but his guitar, and treat the audience to an acoustic set, beginning with Do You Remember off the same album. Before the song would begin, he would tell the story of its conception as well. He told the crowd how he recognized a certain girl’s bike, and knowing he’d have to talk to her, locked his bike to hers. “Don’t do that you’ll probably get arrested,” he warned, but “that girl is now my wife.” He continued, “it was the morning of our anniversary, and I realized I didn’t have anything good to give her, so I sat down and started to write this” song, Do You Remember. In the song’s bridge, Johnson would update his lyrics. As opposed to the album version of “over ten years have gone by,” Johnson would sing to the crowd, “over twenty-nine years have gone by,” to update the years he has been with his wife. The crowd welcomed the update with applause causing Johnson to laugh, “what do we like long lasting love here in this city?”
He would continue with his vulnerability on stage, showing the audience the first songs he’d learned to play growing up. He began with a short riff of Metallica which would lead him down memory lane. “I learned this one from one of my dad’s friends. I was fourteen at the time which was questionable given the song’s about alcohol and grass,” before leading into a cover of Jimmy Buffett’s A Pirate Looks at Forty. This would be followed by another cover, this time of Tom Petty’s You Don’t Know How It Feels.
He would close the night with Better Together off In Between Dreams. After admiring the emotion he’d spread throughout the venue, he’d hold up his guitar, grab the mic one last time, and exit with “until we meet again, take care of each other. We love you guys, thank you.”
The Meet the Moonlight tour continues on throughout the United States until October before traveling on to Australia and New Zealand. If one of these shows is anywhere near your area, I urge you to bring a group of friends, hold them tight, and feel the love that Jack Johnson’s music creates.