My Morning Jacket deliver stellar show in Boston

A review of My Morning Jacket at the Bank of America Pavilion on August 14, 2011

, Staff Writer

After six albums and more than a dozen years as a band, My Morning Jacket bring a confidence and swagger to the indie scene that many bands simply can’t replicate, thanks in no small part to a relentless and expertly-delivered live performance that has evolved as much as the band has. They are perennial favorite at Bonnarro, finally playing the main stage for the first time this past year, if that’s any indication how far they’ve come in the past decade or so. Currently touring in support of their newest album, Circuital, the Kentucky quintet made their way to Boston on Sunday, bringing their scorching live show to a sold-out Bank of America Pavilion.

The streak of modesty that runs through Circuital in the studio is virtually nonexistent once My Morning Jacket hits the stage. The quintessential layers of reverb that drench their music is amplified dramatically on stage, making it an easy task for them to fill a space like the Bank of America Pavilion. “Victory Dance” started things off on the right path, a persistent groove that slowly builds on itself until dense layers of sound simply poured out of the PA system. Lead singer Jim James was in his element, hitting those high notes with expert precision, but also deftly working his way through the lower register, bringing a commanding presence to the stage.

While MMJ’s studio cuts are more than enough to stand up on their own, the band does fans a service by bringing something truly unique to every performance of theirs. This is a group that’s more than willing to take their songs in unique musical directions, bringing just enough jamband sensibilities to the table to make their shows that much more special.

“Circuital” followed with a delightful classic rock groove that kicked the show off in earnest. James’ vocals soared over a simple acoustic guitar bliss-out. It was a fantastic performance that got the crowd in the right mood early on. MMJ would prove their abilities countless times throughout the evening, as James and guitarist Carl Broemel played more than their fair share of tenacious solos. Few bands are able to play for nearly two and a half hours and remain engaging the whole time, and yet My Morning Jacket proved once again on Sunday that they can easily do so.

Of course, the show wasn’t without its perennial favorites. The band took it all the way back to their second album, At Dawn, with the straight-up country-rock jam of “Honest Man” to close out the set. On the other side of the spectrum, “Off The Record” was perhaps the most musically-unique tune to grace the crowd that evening, an interesting mix of reggae and heavy metal, and one that was not without its fair share of screaming guitar solos.

The set, as to be expected, revolved heavily around material from Circuital, which blends in with the rest of the band’s oeuvre seamlessly. “Outta My System”, an almost Beatles-esque song that graced the middle of the set, was filled with soaring vocals and elegant slide guitar that whirled its way around James’ voice with expert precision. The band share an almost psychic link with one another and seem to complement one another’s musical talents perfectly.

My Morning Jacket came back after their main set to put on a rousing five-song encore, including a beautiful cover of Dolly Parton’s “Islands In The Stream” with vocals from indie darling Neko Case, who opened the show with a 45 minute set of her own. The band closed things out with “One Big Holiday”, a fast-paced indie anthem that ended things on a high note.

My Morning Jacket are a band that have shown a wonderful evolution in their time together. Each album has been a leap forward, musically, and they continue to get better and better at their live show. While many bands are content to simply run through their studio material, this is a group who relish the opportunity to change things up a bit, and the performance is all the better for it. Their stage show has a reputation for a reason, and on Sunday they certainly lived up to it.

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  1. Pingback: My Morning Jacket deliver stellar show in Boston | Christopher O'Hare | I Hate Me Too

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