When you see a band multiple times you always hope to see a show that is as good or better than the time(s) before. In my experience, most of the time you will get a fairly similar show, especially if the band is a solid band live, and when this happens, you usually leave with a good feeling regardless of how it compared to the previous show(s). Last night, however, I left last night’s show with a whole different feeling.
Last night, I went to go see My Morning Jacket for the second time (third if you count seeing them play with Preservation Hall Jazz Band at their 50th anniversary show in January) at Williamsburg Park in Brooklyn. I came in having extremely high expectations since I was blown away the first time I saw them live. Last night I left with those expectations totally shattered. The band was not just good, they were mind blowing.
Not only was the set list spectacular (see below), but the energy the band exuded on stage was the most intense that I have seen at any show in several years, including the first time I saw them live. Now that’s saying something, because if there is one thing that the band is known for, it’s their stage presence, and last night was just simply a wonder to watch. Singer/guitarist Jim James is normally all over the place, rocking out to almost every song, but last night he was on a whole different level. He was all over the stage, interacting with both his bandmates and the crowd. He danced while playing his guitar during several of the songs, and at one point was running around guitarist Carl Broemel during his solo. Speaking of Broemel, he too gets really into the songs, but last night he seemed to be much more energized, playing to the crowd and jumping around a lot more than I have seen before (including on videos of live performances). And then there is drummer Patrick Hallahan, who is literally a beast on the set, and plays with such intensity that you could call him a real-life Animal. He too was going nuts throughout the night, especially during “Run Thru,” where he did his patented arm movements during the breakdown of the song. Bassist Tom Blakenship and keyboardist Bo Koster, were a little more reserved than the other three, though still rocking out hard, especially Blankenship, who was in a power stance for several of the songs.
But like I’ve told many people before, stage presence alone does not make a performance good, and last night MMJ played an incredibly stellar setlist, playing for almost two and a half hours. The band opened with the rarely performed “The Dark,” one of four selections played from the band’s first album The Tennessee Fire, and didn’t look back. The band played at least one selection from each of their studio albums, as well as covering George Harrison’s “Isn’t It A Pity” (which also featured Dean Wareham from the band Luna) and Prince’s “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” which was one of several highlights of the night. Other highlights included “Gideon,” an extended version of “Dondante,” “It’s About Twilight Now,” a full version of “Run Thru,” “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream, Pt. 2,” Jim James playing “I Will Be There When You Die” solo, and the show’s closer “One Big Holiday,” which had the crowd in a total frenzy. On top of this, the band was noticeably extending the intros and outros of several of their songs, showing that they are starting to evolve their songs in a live environment, something that good live bands do.
It’s hard to say if this was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, but I know that it was definitely one of the most intense. I can easily say, however, that My Morning Jacket is one of the best live bands out there. They encompass both a great stage and light show and great music that is performed consistently at a high level. They are also very in-tune with their fans, especially the hardcore ones, understanding that without them they would be nothing. All of these characteristics make a great live band, and My Morning Jacket is one (yes, I know I just said that). I highly suggest going to see them in concert, especially if you like their music, because it really is an experience to see them live.
1. The Dark – The Tennessee Fire
2. Outta My System – Circuital
3. Circuital – Circuital
4. Gideon – Z
5. Lay Low – Z
6. Mahgeetah – It Still Moves
7. Dondante – Z
8. War Begun – The Tennessee Fire
9. It’s About Twilight Now – The Tennessee Fire
10. Run Thru – It Still Moves
11. Off The Record – Z
12. Holdin On To Black Metal – Circuital
13. Phone Went West – At Dawn
14. Smokin’ From Shootin’ – Evil Urges
15. Touch Me I’m Going To Scream, Pt. 2 – Evil Urges
16. Good Intentions – Evil Urges
17. I Will Be There When You Die – The Tennessee Fire
18. Isn’t It A Pity (w/ Dean Wareham of Luna) – All Things Must Pass (George Harrison)
19. Victory Dance – Circuital
20. Wordless Chorus – Z
21. I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man – Sign “O” the Times (Prince)
22. One Big Holiday – It Still Moves