Words, Pictures, Live Videos by Bradley Darby
When it was announced in May that My Morning Jacket would be playing at The Pageant, the feeling that immediately came to me was jubilation. This is a band that I had been dying to see since I first watched the Okonokos DVD and caught a glimpse of what a MMJ show was like. Only problem was, tickets went on sale while I was away at Wakarusa seeing My Morning Jacket. Luckily a friend that is in the right place was able to help me out and secure me tickets. I vowed to get their early to obtain a premium spot, as their set at Wakarusa not only was the highlight of the weekend, but was nothing short of amazing.
Its not a coincidence that some people consider My Morning Jacket to be one of the best live bands out there right now. The raw energy and emotion put into a performance by the Louisville, Kentucky five piece is something that is hard to express in words (luckily there is video evidence to help me out!) Since the release of their debut album The Tennessee Fire in 1999, MMJ has released five more studio albums with each one giving you a different vibe than the last. Talking with another fan after the show, we both agreed that upon the first listen of each album you are questioning what you just heard…. but give it a few more spins and you start to see what Jim James and the boys are trying to do, as no two albums sound alike.
The opening band was California indie rockers Delta Spirit, who were fantastic and spent their 45 minute set doing their best to convert each and every person in the room into a believer. By the near standing ovation they received after their set, I think they succeeded. The highlight of their set was the fact that on a few songs they initiated the duel drummer sequence and had two kits set up next to each other while percussionist Brandon Young and Kelly Winrich banged away with the fury of a honey badger as they rattled the bones in your body. I sadly cant give you any more info on their set, but I recommend you check them out.
My Morning Jacket took the stage at around 9:15 and came on to ominous green glows and haunting bass, both of which borrow from the theme of their most recent album Circuital, released just two months ago. The set kicked off with the opening track from that album, “Victory Dance”, a perfect song to start a set and get the crowd going. Near the end, vocalist Jim James belts out a primal scream and then seamlessly flowed into the second song and title track, “Circuital” before venturing into their prior catalog.
Front man James has a way for controlling a crowd as he bounces around the stage from side to side, using the monitors as stepping stones along the way while his mane of hair flows through the air like he’s floating above the rest of the world like some angel (shout out to American Dad!) But that’s only when he’s not busy shredding your face off on his flying V guitar and howling screams or soothing your soul with his soft spoken inside voice and acoustic guitar. He is joined by Tom Blankenship on the bass, Patrick Hallahan on drums, Bo Koster on keys and Carl Broemel on guitar.
“I’m Amazed” from 2008’s Grammy nominated Evil Urges went into another new one, “First Light.” After James took a second to talk to the crowd by telling us about St. Louis being the “power center of the country” and talking about how great it was that there is a place where “the City Museum and the Arch can coexist” (if you dont know the City Museum, you should check this link out) they then went right into “The Way He Sings”, the only song from their 2001 album At Dawn that was played. The new album, Circuital, would make up a major part of the set list as it was only released two months ago. But its a fantastic album, so thats not a bad thing whatsoever. The remainder of the night featured a solid mix of their entire catalog and a total of 24 songs over two and a half hours.
One of MMJs more epic tunes, “Touch Me and I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2” went into “Dondonte”, a beautiful, yet deep song about long time friend of the band who took his own life, to end the set. That song is from 2005’s, Z, one of my favorite MMJ albums that actually played a heavy role in the night with 5 songs including “Dondonte” and the always amazing “Wordless Chorus” to kick off the encore. After a few more song James then again addressed the sold out rowdy crowd as he told us a story about visiting the City Museum earlier in the day, and how he was trapped in a door maze where he kept having the option of going through two doors, and they kept getting smaller as did the rooms until he was eventually just stuck in a tiny room. James then said that made him think of the next song as they then played “Holding On To Black Metal.” The set then ended with the crowd favorite and the always guaranteed to rock your socks off “One Big Holiday” from It Still Moves, their major label debut from 2003.
It had been five years since their last visit to St. Louis, and My Morning Jacket made up for it by keeping a sold out crowd happy for nearly three hours, and blowing the mothefucking roof off The Pageant. I took a friend along who had just gotten into them in the few days leading up to the show, and he was blown away as well. We both agreed that it was quite possibly the loudest concert we had ever attended, and both of us have seen many shows over our years. This show is in strong contention for Best of 2011, and it is going to be tough to top. Luckily I have Wilco at the soon to open Peabody Opera House to look forward too……..
1. Victory Dance (Circuital)
2. Circuital (Circuital)
3. The Dark (The Tennessee Fire)
4. I’m Amazed (Evil Urges)
5. First Light (Circuital)
6. The Way That He Sings (At Dawn)
8. Golden (It Still Moves)
9. Slow Slow Tune (Circuital)
10. Heartbreakin’ Man (The Tennessee Fire)
11. Off the Record(Z)
12. Mahgeetah (It Still Moves)
13. You Wanna Freak Out (Circuital)
14. Movin’ Away (Circuital)
15. Smokin’ From Shootin’ (Evil Urges)
16. Run Thru (It Still Moves)
17. Touch Me, I’m Going to Scream, Part Two (Evil Urges)
19. Wordless Chorus (Z)
20. Touch Me, I’m Going to Scream, Part One (Evil Urges)
21. The Day is Coming (Circuital)
22. Holdin’ On To Black Metal (Circuital)
24. One Big Holiday (It Still Moves)