Jack Johnson at the Arlington Theatre

Alison Mae Bonham

Jack Johnson at the Arlington Theatre

Review: Jack Johnson at the Arlington Theatre

Santa Barbara’s Reigning Songsmith Performed on October 20

On the recently released From Here to Now to You, Jack Johnson returns to his songwriting roots, so what more perfect way to conclude his world tour than to return to the place where it all began?

On Sunday night, Johnson’s nearly two-hour-long show found the singer reiterating his love for Santa Barbara and his love of entertaining. What separated this tour from past outings was all in the tickets; fans applied for a raffle months in advance, and only a few hundred were selected to go, making those in attendance all the more appreciative. Johnson opened up the show in solo mode, swathed in a single spotlight for “Do You Remember.” He played a little bit of old and plenty of new and was sure to hit on favorites like “Girl I Wanna Lay You Down,” bringing it back to his days at UCSB. He appeared especially comfortable, too, often pausing in between songs to crack a joke or tell a story.

Backed by a series of beachy projections, Johnson launched into “Bubble Toes,” incorporating bits and pieces of Steve Miller’s “The Joker” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic.” Later, bassist Merlo Podlewski surprised with a short rap sesh during “Staple It Together.”

But the show hit its climax when Johnson invited opener Bahamas back onstage to perform with him and longtime friend Paula Fuga, who sang and whistled her “Country Road” and Johnson’s “Turn Your Love.” Johnson, Fuga, and the crew came up to the very front of the stage and concluded the show with an acoustic rendition of “Better Together,” delivered quietly, accented by a hushed audience sing-along and capped off with an affectionately familiar “See you guys real soon.”

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