My Morning Jacket

It’s taken me a long time to finally see My Morning Jacket – a year in fact, but I finally did the other night at the Tivoli Theatre. It’s hard to believe an audiophile like myself hasn’t seen this band perform live, especially since they’ve been around since 1998. And in a slight confession, I wasn’t that familiar with their songs. I was however aware of their reputation.

I think part of the reason I’ve wanted to see the band is because of their bigger than life persona and that of the band’s leader Jim James. My Morning Jacket has been able to build a huge following without the aid of airplay garnering their following through live performances and a strong social media and online presence.

Play live they do and they have put on some legendary shows. Their Bonnaroo performance in 2009 is one they make documentaries about as they performed for four hours that night. I’m still shocked I had never seen them live before. I was at that particular Bonnaroo festival and there that night. But I got pissed because I wasn’t approved to shoot Metallica that night and called it an early night. Not only that but the kind of crowd bands like that have aren’t usually my cup of tea. I desperately tried the past couple of years to no avail but finally accomplished my goal.

To my surprise the show was a sellout. Not because it was a sellout but very few things sellout in Chattanooga unless they involve trucks or a jam band.

My curiosity of the band has grown over the years and a way put me off because of their pop culture reference. Fox cartoon series “American Dad” dedicated an entire episode to James and the band’s music back in 2009. One of my favorite comedies I found it odd that CIA agent Stan Smith, the patriarch of the odd and somewhat dysfunctional Smith household in the show with this almost religious cult-like following of the animated version of the band and James. It was a funny episode, the music was pretty good but I found it interesting a band that wasn’t mainstream was the subject of a mainstream show. It was kind of cool, but I was cynical.

My cynicism was laid to rest this night. First off the fan base, a few that I spoke with prior to show time were extremely nice and not a bunch of stoners that you would expect to see at a band with such a cult following.

We were getting kind of anxious as the show began an hour late but was well worth the wait. Once the band took the stage the entire crowd rose to their feet and stayed there the entire time. James and company performed 23 songs over the course of the evening playing only a handful of songs from the latest album, 2015’s The Waterfall. They concentrated a majority of their time to their 2005 breakthrough album Z.

As I stated earlier I wasn’t as familiar with he music as I probably should. I’ve heard a lot of comparisons including Radiohead. The music was rock blended with psychedelia with just a hint of jam – not too much of the latter fortunately as I’ve heard my fill of jam bands. I was surprised how rocking they were and how charismatic James was on stage. My Morning Jacket reminds me of a young U2 without the pretentiousness of Bono. There was melodic groove without being redundant.

And while covered plenty of material while on stage they treated the crowd to a couple of covers including Elton John’s “Rocket Man” which the band did a soulful cover and Pink Floyd’s “Mother”.

After listening to the music, taking in the light show I’m beginning to understand what Stan Smith and others find so addictive about My Morning Jacket.

My Morning Jacket Setlist
Compound Fracture
X-Mas Curtain
The Dark
It Beats 4 U
Off the Record
Spring (Among the Living)
I Will Sing You Songs
Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time) (Elton John cover)
The Way That He Sings
A New Life (Jim James song)
Lay Low
Smokin’ From Shootin’
Tropics (Erase Traces)
Carried Away (Carl Broemel song)
Mother (Pink Floyd cover)

Bermuda Highway
Slow Slow Tune
Wordless Chorus
Phone Went West

– Dave Weinthal