SUN: 16º/9º MON: 19º/6º
Don your jackets for a good ol’ fashioned rock show
Some bands are studio bands, utilising all of the available technology to craft a polished sound. Some bands are live bands, thriving off spontaneity and energy to jam and improvise.
My Morning Jacket is definitely the latter. The Louisville, Kentucky quintet’s Southern-fried rock screams out for a live setting, and MMJ have made a name for themselves as one of the best touring rock bands out there.
Formed in 1998, My Morning Jacket have six full-length albums, three live albums, an assortment of EPs and various side projects under their belts. Their latest release, 2011’s Circuital, was a welcome return to form from the band following the mixed bag that was 2008’s Evil Urges. With the exception of the out-of-leftfield ‘Holding on to Black Metal’, Circuital largely harkens back to the band’s nadir reached with the releases of 2003’s It Still Moves and 2005’s Z.
My Morning Jacket’s reputation as a top live band was cemented with a nearly legendary appearance at the 2008 Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee. Taking the stage at midnight, the band played for nearly four hours, churning out 35 songs. Among them were covers as diverse as Erykah Badu’s ‘Tyrone’ and Mötley Crüe’s ‘Home Sweet Home’. The band has also performed memorable versions of Willie Nelson’s ‘Always on My Mind’, Danzig’s ‘How The Gods Kill’, Black Sabbath’s ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ and the Commodores’ ‘Easy’, among others. And with lead singer Jim James’s participation in the folk ‘supergroup’ Monsters of Folk, it’s not out of the question that some of those songs – along with selections from James’s solo George Harrison tribute EP – might get the full MMJ treatment live as well.
But it’s MMJ’s own material that shines through the best at live concerts, with the band improvising and expanding on their tunes. Upon the release of Circuital, respected music blog Antiquiet said the album would serve to “restock their live arsenal” with a collection of songs that were tailor-made for the band to “flesh out ... and help them reach their full potential”.
With the newer songs added to an arsenal of older favourites like ‘One Big Holiday’, ‘Dondante’ and ‘Magheetah’, the Kentuckians are bound to temporarily give Vega a down home Southern feel.
Throughout their career, My Morning Jacket have garnered comparisons to legendary acts like Lynyrd Skynard, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, and the Grateful Dead. But with horns, keyboards and pedal steel guitar added to their traditional rock sound – led by the haunting and distinctive voice of James – MMJ have a sound all of their own.
And despite those lofty comparisons, MMJ don’t carry the air of pretentious rock stars. After all, how many ‘serious’ rock bands would enter talks to perform live as The Electric Mayhem, the fictional band from The Muppet Show? Although those plans were ultimately scuppered by the Walt Disney Company, leading James to bemoan his lost chance for “Muppet glory”, two Muppet-bound songs, ‘Wonderful’ and ‘Outta My System’, made their way onto Circuital.
With a solid discography, a reputation as one of the best live performers around, comparisons to some of rock’s greats, and a love for singing puppets, MMJ will provide an evening of good old fashioned Southern rock ‘n’ roll.