My Morning Jacket | 06.20.08 | NYC

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Words by: Nick D’Amore | Images by: Dino Perrucci

My Morning Jacket :: 06.20.08 :: Radio City Music Hall :: New York, NY


Jim James – MMJ :: 06.20 :: Radio City Music Hall
What the Radio City Music Hall audience witnessed last Friday night in New York City was a band seizing its moment. My Morning Jacket was powerful, massive, awesome and inspired. Singer-guitarist Jim James was reverential to his surroundings throughout the show, calling the venue “sacred” and “hallowed,” and was awed by the fact that he was standing on a stage where he had just recently seen Aretha Franklin perform. “Aretha fucking Franklin,” James said to the crowd, seemingly still astonished at the juxtaposition.

But, if the band was humbled by its own headlining slot at the famous theater, it didn’t show. For roughly two hours and 40 minutes, they played masterfully, blowing the doors off the place song after song, with one piece’s climax often reaching more incredible heights than the one before. The crowd’s energy and excitement matched the band’s own from the beginning beats of “Evil Urges” to the ferocious finale of modern guitar anthem “One Big Holiday.”

The venue’s pristine, unmatched sound proved to be a perfect place for MMJ’s strengths to come through; James’ miraculous voice soared; guitarist Carl Broemel‘s solos shredded; the ultra-heavy drumming of Patrick Hallahan thundered. The new songs, many with a subtle, 1970s California soft rock feel, meshed beautifully within the bombast of songs from It Still Moves and the rhythmic grooves of Z. The band kept Radio City rocking, with the Evil Urges tracks getting enthusiastic responses. More than half the crowd had obviously been bumping the album since it came out as many sang along and pumped their fists on cue with the new tunes. Opening with funky “Evil Urges,” it was instantly obvious that the new songs would not disappoint matched up against MMJ standards. James was pitch-perfect throughout the falsetto-laden opener. Even “Highly Suspicious,” the off-the-wall third track on Evil Urges, was highly entertaining and infectious. The band has begun to carve out an identity beyond classification. If Z surprised those who were expecting a continuation of the explosive power of It Still Moves, Evil Urges has similarly confounded many with its varied song styles and, at times, quieter, more reserved soundscapes. However, the majesty of My Morning Jacket is in their live shows. The band’s talents, which at first seem to come through on their albums – thunderous rock, danceable grooves and beautiful harmonies – can only be truly appreciated in person.

MMJ :: 06.20 :: Radio City Music Hall
The 16-song first set consisted of many new songs weaved into MMJ concert staples. After the raucous “Highly Suspicious,” the band launched into an inspired “What A Wonderful Man” from Z, whipping the crowd into an early frenzy. From there, they came with a chiller vibe on two new tracks, the dreamy “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream (Part 1)” and the ominous “Sec Walking,” followed by It Still Moves gem “Golden.” The set reached its emotional climax near the end with “Steam Engine,” another It Still Moves masterpiece, during which the band expertly brought the song from quiet whispers to explosive outbursts and back down again until the song’s peak. As the crowd sang with James, “Take your money and your drugs,” the song rose to an incredible crescendo through to its extended jam, during which James ambled up the right side of the theater, playing to the audience up in the balcony. From the jam, the band segued into “Smokin From Shootin” and “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream (Part 2)” from the new album, ending the main set, and leaving the audience dazed and amazed.

After a quick break, MMJ returned for an elongated encore, beginning with James solo with an acoustic guitar playing “Bermuda Highway” from their pre-fame album At Dawn, followed by the beautiful quirkiness of “Librarian” from Evil Urges. James’ haunting melody about pining away for a beautiful librarian brought the crowd to a captivated hush. The audience was then ready to explode as the band launched into “Wordless Chorus,” where the crowd whooped and howled along with James. The encore reached its peak with a monstrous “Run Thru,” which at times sounded as if it would actually tear the roof off Radio City.

It’s often talked about, but Friday night’s show was truly an event where a band and its audience were of one mind and spirit. The crowd – consisting of a plethora of band member look-alikes as well as people who had obviously just run down from their high-rise offices – had a relentless, boundless energy from the moment My Morning Jacket took the stage, and the band responded in kind. Coming into Friday, it seemed that the show would be a watershed mark, a milestone for the Jacket. It was the hottest ticket in town and only a few days prior, the band announced that they would be reaching a new career height – headlining New Year’s Eve at Madison Square Garden. My Morning Jacket not only satiated their fans, they transcended the bigness of the event and offered the lucky few in attendance an incredible, unforgettable night. The New Year’s Eve show just became a can’t-miss, must-see performance.

My Morning Jacket :: 06.20.08 :: Radio City Music Hall :: New York, NY
Set I: Evil Urges, Off The Record, Gideon, I’m Amazed, Highly Suspicious, What a Wonderful Man, Touch Me I’m Going to Scream (Part 1), Sec Walkin, Golden, Thank You Too, The Way That He Sings, Two Halves, Phone Went West, Aluminum Park, Steam Engine > Smokin From Shootin > Touch Me I’m Going to Scream (Part 2)
Encore: Bermuda Highway*, Librarian, Wordless Chorus, It Beats 4 U, Dondante, The Bear, Lay Low, Run Thru, Anytime, One Big Holiday
*Jim James solo

My Morning Jacket 06.20.08 at Radio City Music Hall: MP3, STREAM, FLACs available here.

My Morning Jacket – “Off the Record” – 6.22.08 RCMH:

My Morning Jacket – “Highly Suspicious” – 6.22.08 RCMH:

My Morning Jacket – “Touch Me Part Two” – 6.22.08 RCMH:

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