My Morning Jacket

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Welcome to the weird and the wonderful world of genuine, soulful rock.

Louisville pop rockers My Morning Jacket transformed the Fillmore into a magic wooded forest for all to see on Friday night's sold out show. Frontman Jim James left messages to fans on both MMJ's official website as well as the Fillmore's site prior to the performance, informing the audience of the show's recording and how they should provide to the fantasy scenery.

Attire suggestions included fairies, wizards, goblins, Victorian ballroom dancers, "big frilly skirts," top hats and tuxedoes, while accessory suggestions included glo-sticks, flowers, magic wands "or any other interesting objets that may look cool on film and glow."

I was distraught by the absence of a monkey butler present at my arrival on the 8:58 Outbound MUNI Pumpkin Stagecoach #38.

Nevertheless, the set and the crowd were adorned with winding vines, shimmering fairy-wings, face paint, and glowing objects of all sorts. The lighting was well-directed, adding to the ethereality of the spectacle. The band's set was even shared by creepy stuffed owls, perched on amps and monitors, staring blankly at the wide array of Ferngully-esque onlookers. James added a little to the magic with the stunning violet orb that he held for the first couple of songs.

The real magic, however, came from his haunting, echoing and often volcanic voice, able to hit every note flawlessly with each eruption brought forth from the deepest regions of his soul. If Chris Martin of Coldplay had been born in the Bluegrass State and adopted a quasi-grizzly countenance, along with the onstage presence reminiscent of Counting Crow's Adam Duritz, you would have Jim James. His eyes normally closed, James' deep connection to the music ignited the atmosphere and the warmth was easily felt by the congregation of elves and ghouls.

During his solo acoustic performances, James spoke of his intention to "tenderize" the audience, and of course he succeeded, alternating between mellow-tonic verses and heart-wrenching choruses. This ephemeral segment of the show was built around older material, however, leaving the majority of stage time to MMJ's newest release-Z, a manifestation of the band's relaxed experimentalism enveloping a traditional Southern folksy-rock backbone.

Jim James is undoubtedly the real force behind My Morning Jacket.

The rest of the band, including a guitarist, bassist, drummer, and keyboardist, played fairly well, but nothing really spectacular came from anywhere but the amazing voice and presence of singer-songwriter James. The magnetic solo acoustic performance really added another dark and beautiful dimension to the fantasticality of the show. The playlist incorporated many memorable tracks including "Dondante," "Wordless Chorus," and "Off The Record," along with some louder older tracks that got the crowd fired up when necessary.

The greatest part of the show, without a doubt, was being reminded that bands still make good old rock n' roll music, and can play it live with the same intimacy that existed at its creation. My Morning Jacket is just great listenable music. Certain songs evoke the October days of U2, while other tracks carry the chill-out aloofness of contemporary singers like Jack Johnson or Iron & Wine.

Buy the DVD whenever it is released; it is definitely worth seeing if you have never seen MMJ live, or even if you have some strange infatuation with fairies and glowsticks.


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