Bringing Down the Music Hall with My Morning Jacket

Kentucky giants enrapture devotees on night one

My Morning Jacket's Jim James (Photo By David Brendan Hall)

Welcome to the Church of MMJ. With the first show of their two-night stand, My Morning Jacket unloaded a nearly two-and-a-half-hour set that threatened to bring down the Austin Music Hall three months ahead of its scheduled demolition.

Few bands can wind through such a full set so tightly, the Kentucky quintet displaying expert control of the pace and crowd throughout the night. Opening quietly with “At Dawn” before bringing Will Johnson, Austin’s member of Jim James super-group Monsters of Folk, center stage for “Bermuda Highway,” Act I unfolded with the slow build of quiet ballads. The invocation continued through “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” with Eric Johnson from opening band Fruit Bats joining, and new tune “Get the Point,” before Johnson retook the stage to provide harmonies for the poignant throwback of “Golden.”

Act II launched with the percussive throb of “A New Life” from James’ 2013 solo turn Regions of Light and Sound of God as the band moved into increasingly powerful territory. The guitars began to flair amid the flail of hair through “Circuital,” “The Way That He Sings” and “It Beats 4 U,” the latter sending James’ falsetto wail into full effect as the strobe lights ignited.

James rarely interrupted the encompassing flow of the epic jams to address the crowd, halting only early in the set to acknowledge how much Austin has supported the band from its beginnings. He rewarded the devotion with deep cuts, ranging from a thundering take on “The Dark” off of 1999 debut disc The Tennessee Fire to an upbeat “Off the Record” from 2005’s Z.

Only deep into the set did MMJ return to this year’s excellent, personally-strafed The Waterfall, alternating “Spring (Among the Living)” and the anthemic swell of “Believe (Nobody Knows)” between early-career favorites “I Will Sing You Songs” and thumping closer “Phone Went West.”

For the 25-minute encore, James and company pulled out full jams, ending the evening with the dark twist of Evil Urges’ “Highly Suspicious” and the final guitar swirl of “Mahgeeta.”

Although the sound at AMH still rankled and gave evidence to why the venue is doomed, for two and half hours MMJ made everything outside the Hall irrelevant.

Eric Johnson (left) and Jim James (Photo By David Brendan Hall)

1. At Dawn
2. Bermuda Highway
3. Wonderful (The Way I Feel)
4. Get the Point
5. Golden
6. A New Life
7. Circuital
8. X-Mas Curtain
9. The Way That He Sings
10. It Beats 4 U
11. Dondante
12. The Dark
13. Off the Record
14. Spring (Among the Living)
15. I Will Sing You Songs
16. Believe (Nobody Knows)
17. Phone Went West
18. Tropics (Erase Traces)
19. Run Thru
20. Highly Suspicious
21. Mahgeetah

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Circuital (Record Review)

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My Morning Jacket, Jim James, Austin Music Hall, Fruit Bats

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