Blog Archives

Jim James

12/3/16
Denver, CO
Paramount Theatre
Map of Colorado, USA
4 Stars
The alchemist’s lab.  I did not expect the massive, manic energy on display here, on stage nor in the audience. I should have — I’ve seen enough My Morning Jacket shows to witness the ease with which this wizard assembles talent and stirs crowds — but I assumed a solo show would be more introspective, more folkie. It was those things but it was mostly a heavy, no-holds-barred rock show. The surprise that took me served me well. I was smitten, falling in love with this man and his music like we were meeting for the first time, like all those Jacket shows around the country had never nestled their way into my guts and heart. Like all great creators, Jim James has a knack for weaving together <em>universes</em>: he collects fellow musicians who compliment and expand the palette inherent in him (the cosmic keyboardist from Twin Limb), presents them in unexpected ways (two drummers!), and uses the brew to embrace and intoxicate his audience. We were drunk — literally, yes, but for sure figuratively — and losing our minds from almost the first note. His latest solo album has yet to work its way into my circuitry, so it’s expected that I got the most joy in hearing older songs like “A New Life” and “State Of The Art (AEIOU)” … but that sentiment must have been common because the place was whipped up in goddam froth by those late-set rippers, heads banging and sweat flying. It felt, for us in the audience, like a brotherhood, borrowed in part by the shared Jacket family, but cemented by this singular talent and the chemistry in which he made us all a part. Setlist

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Ray LaMontagne

9/18/16
Morrison, CO
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Map of Colorado, USA
2.5 Stars
Accomplished but schizophrenic. This was an interesting tour for Ray LaMontagne: promoting a psychedelic concept album produced by Jim James, backed by the members of James’ band My Morning Jacket, playing as a member of a group larger than the sum of its parts. Will it feel like he’s wearing the material or like the material is wearing him? Pulling it off is a tall task for a guy known for earnest ruminations on vulnerability and pain, via a live show that must satisfy fans of Bearded Folkie Ray and Punk Rocker Ray. He answered the call by opening with a solo acoustic set, then bringing the band onstage for a by-the-numbers presentation of the new album’s songs in running order, and finishing with a set of electric songs pulled randomly from across his catalog. What at times felt adrift (not helped by his penchant for whispered between-song ramblings) was saved by his often-amazing lead guitar and the undeniable musicianship of his backing band. Still, I’ll take 90 minutes of Bearded Folkie Ray next time, thanks. Setlist

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My Morning Jacket

5/28/16
Morrison, CO
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Map of Colorado, USA
4.5 Stars
Weird and unforgettable. The buzz around this show was heady: it was the first of a two-night run on Memorial Day weekend, the holiday enabling many One Big Family members to fly in from all over the country; the deluxe reissue of It Still Moves (in my opinion, the best MMJ album) had just been released the day before and was rumored to be played in its entirety; and original guitarist Johnny Quaid had tweeted that he’d be onstage with his old band for at least part of the shows. After sprinting from early entry to the GA section and securing awesome spots mere feet from the stage — Carl side, of course — my man Brian and I were ready to take it in. Brian’s brothers and a few of his high school friends joined us for a swirling trip through fan favorites and deep cuts from all over the band’s catalog, including a rare spin through “Just One Thing” and a gut-punching “Steam Engine” — both off ISM — that made us euphoric. It was a bizarre and ridiculous set, only the encore showing a bit of predictability (much of it borrowed from the Red Rocks show a year earlier). But even that was amazing, delivering three of the band’s most ass-shakingest tunes — “Highly Suspicious,” “Touch Me Pt. 2” and “Cobra” — in quick succession. A top-five MMJ show, for sure. Setlist

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My Morning Jacket

10/9/15
Las Vegas, NV
Brooklyn Bowl
Map of Nevada, USA
4 Stars
An awesome blur. This two-show run was … surreal. First, Las Vegas was a weird place to see a hippie band like My Morning Jacket play and, indeed, it was their first time. Second, over the course of two nights and nearly 5 hours of playing Jim and the band spoke to the audience exactly zero times. And third, attendance numbers were low: the upper tier of this (very cool) venue was mostly empty. What all that meant for those in attendance was this: let’s close the doors and commence face melting. And that’s what went down. The Man Brian was with me in the pit up front — we were so close Carl was head-banging his sweat onto us — so we were enveloped in sound once the music started. These were my first shows from The Waterfall tour so I was crawling out of my skin to hear the new stuff and the new stuff was terrific. Plus I got my first “AEIOU” on the second night; what a fuckin’ song. A whole bunch of One Big Holiday-ers were there too so it was great to rock out with familiar faces. Bonus: Tim Showalter’s Strand Of Oaks put in two solid nights of support and made a new fan. Setlist

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My Morning Jacket

8/14/15
Morrison, CO
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Map of Colorado, USA
5 Stars
World’s a stage. This show was a monster for me. It was the first gathering of the band’s One Big Holiday (OBH) fan group since the last Mexico festival. Dozens descended on Colorado from all over the country; those who couldn’t make it watched via webcast filmed by the great Danny Clinch. It was a doozey. After an opening set from OBH-alumns Sylvan Esso (they played new stuff!), the boys got to work. An extraordinary setlist. Despite it being the tour closer, Jim was in a chatty mood and the boys were in top form. Highlights included a wicked “Dondante,” a cameo from Brandi Carlile during “Wonderful” and an encore that fuzed both “Touch Me”s with “Highly Suspicious” and “Run Thru.” Absolutely bonkers; a night I’ll never forget. Setlist

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Carnival time One Big Holiday 2

My Morning Jacket

Band Of Horses

The War On Drugs

Dr. Dog

Dawes w/ Conor Oberst

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

1/31/15
Riviera Maya, MX
Hard Rock Hotel
Map of Riviera Maya, Mexico
4.5 Stars
One big family. This was my second time attending this festival curated by and starring My Morning Jacket; a destination event where it’s easy to connect with like-minded friends old and new. I entered a card-carrying member of the coolest tribe of fans I’ve ever had the good fortune of meeting. Although there again with my brother from another mother Brian, the warm familiarity of the host country, the resort, and especially the people, made it a whole new experience. Showtimes would bring the two of us to the rail and we’d know everyone there; hugs and high fives all around. And the music, holy balls. The supporting lineup featured acts broader in range and higher in profile compared to OBH1, and that lead to some awesome collaborations with Jacket. Highlights included The War On Drugs’ Adam Granduciel guesting on Christopher Cross(!) and Bruce Springsteen covers, Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith reprising his New Basement Tapes role with Jim on “Down On The Bottom” and Conor Oberst duetting on “I Will Be There When You Die.” And you don’t realize what some feminine energy does for a band like Jacket until you hear Amelia Meath of Sylvan Esso sing and dance during a suite of Bob Marley covers. As for headliners, My Morning Jacket treated fans to three as-yet unheard songs from The Waterfall sprinkled among stellar and punishing sets spanning their entire career, and Band Of Horses played an afternoon acoustic set in addition to their second-night headlining spot. I speak for every smiling face I saw when I say that I can’t wait for OBH3; as one fan put it, “I’m never not coming here.” Setlist

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Carnival time One Big Holiday

My Morning Jacket

The Flaming Lips

Mariachi El Bronx

Guest: Bob Weir

1/27/14
Riviera Maya, MX
Hard Rock Hotel
Map of Riviera Maya, Mexico
5 Stars
A concert experience. This event changed my life. It’s a festival hosted and curated by My Morning Jacket, launched near my 40th birthday when I was shopping for a festival to attend with my best friend Brian. It fills an all-inclusive resort for four nights: 3 for Jacket, 1 for the Lips, each ending with a dance party. I had never been on vacation with a buddy, without kids, among music-minded and adventurous adults, and it was fucking awesome. The fact that everyone in attendance was as friendly and as stoked to see MMJ as Brian and me was gravy. The whole thing pushed my capacity to follow one band to a level I didn’t realize was important to me, and introduced me to a fan community that is so filled with love and camaraderie that I can no longer imagine my life without it. Bonus: Bob Weir showed up as an unannounced guest and jammed a bunch with the boys. Setlist

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My Morning Jacket

8/4/11
Morrison, CO
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Map of Colorado, USA
4 Stars
Um, what now? I was completely shitfaced during this show and don’t remember a single note. Embarrassing but true. Nonetheless, the fact that it was the Circuital tour gives it an automatic 4 stars. Setlist

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Carnival time New Orleans Jazz Fest

The Black Crowes

My Morning Jacket

4/25/10
New Orleans, LA
Fair Grounds Race Course
Map of Louisiana, USA
3.5 Stars
What a place. The only thing not stunningly beautiful about this trip to The Big Easy was the rainy weather. No matter. The cobblestone sidewalks; the moss-covered trees; and the people, the friendly, proud, hospitable people. Such an amazing city. Oh, and there was a music festival. I witnessed some awesome shows by Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, a bunch of amazing gospel acts, The Black Crowes (my first time) and the Mighty Jacket. I was pumped to see Simon & Garfunkel but poor Art’s voice gave out after only a couple of songs. So what does Paul do? Treat the main stage crowd to an incredible set of his own classics. Sublime.

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