Thursday, October 20, 2005

My Morning Jacket? Or Pink Floyd circa 1971?

My Morning Jacket
October 18, 2005 at Webster Hall, NYC.
by Shannon Ronan

The leaves have been slow to change color this autumn, but upon leaving my first My Morning Jacket show, I could have sworn they'd turned golden. At that moment, I could state with complete confidence that the band had proved to be worth many months of waiting. And those months of waiting were hell, often filled with worry that frontman Jim James' endless charm might fail to distract from possible shortcomings (i.e. the recent line-up changes or the experimental meanderings of the latest record.)

Though Z was actually recorded far from the band's home of Kentucky, it is undeniably an acquired taste. No matter how smooth it starts to sound after repeated listens, chances are you will never forget the sting it left the first time you heard it. That is the beauty of the record. MMJ is not content unless they are out exploring unfamiliar rugged terrains. And that is the beauty of the band.

Tuesday's set list consisted of mostly newer songs, foregoing catchy country hooks and homegrown harmonies for those loaded with hard rock breakdowns. In step, the audience--made up primarily of an older crowd--put down their beers to raise their finger-horns in well-deserved salute. The band's overall mood proved hard to read beneath some of the members' hair, but their maturity and respectability as musical pioneers came through clearly in the way they swung that hair (a move presumably perfected only after many years of dedicated practice). MMJ whispered in with "Wordless Chorus," mesmerized with fan favorites "Golden, "One Big Holiday," "Run Thru," "Off The Record," and "Mahgeetah" and kicked up the dirt one last time, closing with "Anytime." Amazingly, even in its quietest moments, from the black shadows of the stage (lit only by an occasional flashlight to allow for guitar switches), MMJ never stopped rocking long enough to wonder if its fans would follow.

Set list: Wordless Chorus, It Beats 4 U, Gideon, One Big Holiday, The Way That He Sings, Golden, Sooner, Wonderful, Off The Record, Lay Low, Dondante, Run Thru. Encore: At Dawn, I Think I'm Going To Hell, Mahgeetah, Anytime.

Shannon is a graduate of the New School and has a job that requires her to look through the New York Times. You better be godddamn impressed by that.

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