Review: My Morning Jacket

Photo by Ron Valle

The remnants of Tropical storm Cindy and the steady rain could not damper the enthusiasm of the fans of My Morning Jacket as they turned out in droves to see the Louisville band Thursday night at the PNC Pavilion.  Playing before a nearly packed house, the band did not disappoint.  Opening with ‘Compound Fracture’ off their most recent album The Waterfall, the band wasted no time getting down to business

With no frills to speak of; no backdrop, nothing with their name on it, no rugs on the stage, and without the use of the side video boards, the band let their music do all the talking.  And there was a lot to be said.  In concert, the lyrics of Jim James, looking like the mad scientist that he is, take a back seat to the guitar licks of both James and guitarist Carl Broemel. Also backed by the keyboards of Bo Koster, bassist Tom Blankenship, and drummer Patrick Hallahan, My Morning Jacket is a jam band to the first degree.

And jam they did.  Song after song melded into each other making it almost imperceptive as to when one song would end and the other would begin.  But the crowd could tell, as with each new song the applause and screams would get louder.    The band blew through ten songs in no time, as James did not talk between songs.  In fact, he did very little talking with the exception of before and after his John Lennon-like solo track ‘A New Life.’  He spoke of wanting to start a new movement; a movement of love and acceptance.  He said he was tired of all the fighting and hate between us, and the only way for us to change that is to love each other.  He implored the crowd to vote, to encourage friends and family to vote, and last of all to not “be an a$$hole on social media.”  The simple, yet powerful words resonated well with the crowd.

My Morning Jacket is also known for their renditions of soul/funk songs, and they chose two great ones to cover on this night.   Near the end of their set, they played ‘Yes We Can’ by 60s and 70s New Orleans R&B legend Allen Toussaint, and then began their encore with ‘Que Sera’ by Sly and the Family Stone.  The range of My Morning Jacket’s musical influences is perhaps what makes them so fun.  The guys continued well into the night doing four encores in total, finally coming to an end with an oldie, ‘Phone Went West’ off their 2001 album At Dawn.  It’s hard to believe My Morning Jacket has been churning out albums for nearly twenty years, but from what I could tell on this night, it does not appear that the guys plan on slowing down anytime soon.