My Morning Jacket
12.31.06 :: Fillmore Auditorium :: San Francisco, CA
Words by: Kayceman :: Images by Dave Vann
New Year's Eve is a time for reflection and celebration. We look back over what was accomplished, where we fell short, and we set our sights on dreams to come. That and we party our asses off!
MMJ :: 12.31.06 :: San Francisco
With this in mind, there may be no better band to spend NYE with than My Morning Jacket. The music of Jim James and company is full of thought-provoking, introspective lyrics backed by crunching guitars and soaring rock bombast. 2006 was a massive year for MMJ, culminating in one of the best shows of the year at San Francisco's Fillmore.
Decking out the entire venue in a "Donner Party meets Little House On The Prairie" theme, it was clear from the moment you walked up the Fillmore's famous stairs that something special was in the air. With a pre-recorded "Oregon Trail" intro playing over the speakers, the band took the stage dressed in cowboy gear, coonskin caps, Indian Headdresses, and brandishing guns as they gathered around a campfire and eventually killed bassist Two-Tone Tommy, eating him like the Donner Family did way back in 1847. Tommy returned in a pristine white suit, descending from the stairs backstage where the words HEAVEN were painted. As things were getting even weirder, snow began to fall as the band erupted into "One Big Holiday" and the capacity crowd went crazy.
Jim James - MMJ :: 12.31.06 :: San Francisco
The first half of the show featured MMJ classics like "Gideon," "Low Down," a drugged-out "Off The Record," "It Beats For You," a disturbing "Dondante," a space-age, keyboard-heavy "Run Thru," and a stoney rendition of "They Ran," all played with critical intensity. The band took a very brief break a few minutes before midnight to get champagne and prepare for the countdown. As we all dipped into 2007, Martha and the Vandellas' "Heat Wave" came over the speakers as balloons and MMJ money fell from the sky. Glasses were raised, hugs exchanged, and euphoria spread throughout The Fillmore.
MMJ :: 12.31.06 :: San Francisco
At this point it was your typical NYE midnight madness sensory overload. Then Jim started singing Kool and the Gang's "Celebration." From "Celebration" they went into Lionel Richie's "All Night Long," featuring the horns of Elvis Perkins in Dearland (who had opened for MMJ on 12/30). My Morning Jacket somehow turned the wedding/Bar Mitzvah classic into a soulful party. Drifting from "All Night Long" to Wham!'s "Careless Whisper" and Prince's "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" is risky, but MMJ is not your ordinary band. They played these tracks MMJ-style, and like everything they do, it rawked!
Timing is everything in life, and just as the covers started to wane the Jacket dropped the rare "Cobra" off the Chocolate and Ice EP. Tripped-out like some super-high Scandinavian DJ, the ten-minute "Cobra" featured a metal-onslaught middle section that built up to a stunning, dubbed-out version of "Phone Went West" that just about ripped the heart out of the audience.
Two-Tone Tommy on "Highway To Hell" :: 12.31.06
The show was already at epic proportions as the band plunged into "Honest Man," a haunting "Bear," 11-minutes of "Steam Engine," and a psychedelic "Wordless Chorus." We had seen enough, My Morning Jacket had won, but they were not done. "Easy Morning Rebel" and "Dancefloors" gave way to Two-Tone Tommy singing a stellar version of "Highway To Hell" and eventually a massive "Mahgeeta" to bring the crowd to their knees. After almost three and half hours of dark, dirty, triumphant rock, Tommy ended the night with a bang. Pulling out his shotgun, Tommy paid his bandmates back for eating him earlier in the night. With the band lying dead on the stage, Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" began to play and My Morning Jacket ascended to HEAVEN.
The band was clearly just putting the finishing touches on their theater piece by playing Zep to end the night, but in retrospect, there was more to it. We all sit around and talk about who the next Zeppelin will be. Of course no one can see the future, no one knows who will conquer the masses without pandering or "selling out," creating a catalogue of necessary music that will forever stand the test of time. But, if I had to put my money on someone, it would be My Morning Jacket.
Two-Tone Tommy :: 12.31.06
It's not that My Morning Jacket sound or play like Zeppelin, it's the importance of their music and the potential for greatness that is comparable. MMJ make us believe again. Standing at The Fillmore, retracing the struggles and hurts of 2006, Jim James was able to convince the crowd that it is possible. Whatever it is depends on the individual; but My Morning Jacket reminds us that we can do it. Lots of bands write great songs and can rock the house, but MMJ fill the air with possibilities, dreams, and a hope that tomorrow may be better than today. There is currently no more important rock band on the planet than the Jacket, perhaps 2007 is the year the world finds out.
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