Words by: Andrew Bruss
Images by: Jeremy Williams
My Morning Jacket :: 12.31.17
1st Bank Center :: Broomfield, CO
1st Bank Center :: Broomfield, CO
My Morning Jacket spent the two nights prior to New Year’s Eve gradually raising the proverbial speedometer and by the time the countdown had commenced, they’d shattered the speed limit with reckless abandon, further establishing themselves as one of the Greatest American Rock Bands of the 21st Century.
The first night of the run featured deep cuts, slow jams and eventually ended with a high-energy encore that felt like the prologue to the harder rocking second night. Night Two featured a handful of covers that served as an unassuming primer for the theme of their New Years festivities.
The third and final night of the run featured a New Year’s countdown featuring pyrotechnics and costumes and in keeping with their tradition, the post-New Years segment of the night featured a handful of new covers. My Morning Jacket never directly discussed politics, but everything from the production to the song selection was explicitly political. During their two previous New Year’s gigs in 2008 and 2012, following the stroke of midnight, the band celebrated the New Year with celebratory covers like Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long,” Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration,” and “Rock The Casbah” by The Clash.
However, this time around, the countdown featured footage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warning of the dangers of isolationism and professing the power of love. Rather than continue with celebratory hits, My Morning Jacket proceeded to perform iconic songs that focus on love and tolerance. Jacket performed The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love,” Hal David & Burt Bacharach’s “What The World Needs Now Is Love,” and a pair of Sly & The Family Stone songs that both focus on the necessity of universal acceptance. Without bringing up any specific political topic, frontman Jim James told his audience numerous times over the weekend that he was looking forward to ending a crushing year. When analyzed through this context, it’s impossible to experience Jacket’s New Year’s Eve set without interpreting it as a de facto endorsement of the Resistance that has assembled in opposition to the current administration. Throughout their musical love fest, they even had a costumed member of their crew holding a sign saying “Love Always Wins.”
In addition to the covers, New Year’s Eve was highlighted by a plethora of cuts off 2008’s Evil Urges, a barn-burning “Gideon,” and an extended “Phone Went West” that led directly into the pre-countdown programming. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe was the opening act and their funky R&B bent served as the perfect predecessor to the biggest party of the year. The previous nights opener, tUnE-yArDs, was a unique and experimental experience that deserves a positive review in and of itself, but was a mismatched booking for the room and occasion. The Revolution had more luck on the opening night of the run but they were essentially upstaged by Jacket itself when the Kentucky quintet performed Prince’s “Purple Rain” better than they did. Karl D. was brought in as a replacement for Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires following Bradley’s death not long after he was booked. It was thought James might join The Revolution on a tune or two or that Karl D. might sit in with Jacket for part of the set but none of this transpired. Charles Bradley’s name was still on the ticket stubs for thousands of attendees and between the lack of collaborations and a complete absence of recognition for Bradley, Jacket reinforced that although they’re serving up a humanistic message, they’re not too sentimental.
Over three nights, Jacket fans didn’t hear a single song twice and in addition to hearing a fitting cross-section of their back-catalogue, ticket holders enjoyed new covers, a few debuts and a lighting design that’s indisputably taken the band’s production to a whole new level.
2018 stands to be an uncertain year for My Moring Jacket. The band announced that they won’t be performing in the United States during 2018 and although James has discussed their pending follow-up to 2015’s The Waterfall, there doesn’t appear to be a new album on the immediate horizon. 2017 was a chaotic year that saw numerous institutional norms go out the window in addition atrocities committed against concertgoers in Las Vegas and Manchester, England. Given the events of the past year, it’s hard to know what the world will be like when Jacket returns to Colorado, but as we head into the unknown promise of a New Year, one of the Greatest American Rock Band of the 21st Century sent us on our way with a message of love to sustain us through whatever lies ahead.
Here’s a full gallery of photos by Jeremy Williams:
Check out a selection of fan-shot videos from MMJ’s NYE concert:
Enjoy a few photos of the scene captured by Andrew Bruss:
My Morning Jacket at 1st Bank Center
- Victory Dance
- Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 1
- Evil Urges
- Compound Fracture
- Dancing in the Dark
- A New Life
- Spring (Among the Living)
- Tropics (Erase Traces)
- Holdin On to Black Metal
- Magic Bullet
- Highly Suspicious
- Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 2
- Miss You
- Bermuda Highway
- Phone Went West
- Wordless Chorus
- Everyday People
- What the World Needs Now Is Love
- All You Need Is Love
- Lay Low
- Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
- Rhythm Nation
- One Big Holiday
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