My Morning Jacket singer Jim James may have been born to sing at places like Red Rocks. The venue lends itself so much to his voice, which soared gorgeously at times, especially when he'd hold on to words for a long time and it would completely fill up the amphitheater. "What a beautiful night," James said about an hour into the band's nearly three hour set. "I can feel God in the air. I can feel the forces of the universe conspiring for us all to have a wonderful fucking night!"
Who knows if the universe or God had anything to do with it, but band delivered a set that seriously bordered on heavenly. Things were certainly aligned, from the slight breeze to folks in near capacity crowd that, well, just seemed like they were having the pretty much the best night of their lives.
Opening with "Rollin' Back," My Morning Jacket eased into set before fully stepping it up on "The Way That He Sings," which was just the first sign of just how goddamned powerful James' voice is and how great it sounded at Red Rocks.
Throughout the first forty minutes or so, the band primarily focused on some energetic rockers like "Heartbreakin' Man" and a stellar take of "Low Down" before going into three songs in a row from the band's latest effort, Circuital, with bouncy takes "Outta My System," "Holdin' on to Black Metal" and "First Light," where guitarist Carl Broemel switched over to alto sax, which sounded like was he running through some sort of guitar effect, possibly a harmonizer. When he played the first note it almost sounded like an electric bagpipe.
While "War Begun" kicked off a slower section of the set, the intensity was no doubt still in tact. On the unhurried and dreamy "I Will Sing You Songs," James held out words and with the wind blowing a bit it sounded like it voice was swirling all over the place. Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell joined the band on stunning a stunning take of "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)." Bridwell took the second the verse, and when the two of them harmonized, they sounded quite similar. Near the end of the song, James ascended really high in his vocal register without cracking at all.
With six studio albums worth of material, My Morning Jacket could easily have filled its set with originals and not repeated any songs over the two nights, but the band threw in four covers in the set, the first of which was an outstanding take on Elton John's "Rocket Man," with Broemel giving it a slight country twang playing pedal steel. Later, the band played Eykah Badu's R&B-tinged "Tyrone," the INXS' ballad "Never Tear Us Apart," which featured a sax solo by Broemel, and a raucous take on the Clash's "Rock the Casbah," which had to surprise a few folks in the crowd during the encore. Near the end of the set, the guys showed no signs of slowing down losing energy with upbeat cuts like "Evil Urges" and closing out with the rocking "Anytime," one of the five cuts the band played from Z.
On the intense "Victory Dance," one of the seven encore songs, some heavy electronic bass pumped throughout the venue while the crowd pumped fists and nodded heads. While "Off the Record" packed a lot of punch, "Gideon" was an insanely epic way to close out the end of a hell of night.
Page down for setlist and to see more photos.
While opener Band of Horses, for the most part, has its own thing, it's hard not to hear a few similarities between frontman Ben Bridwell and Jim James. There were a few moments where the band as whole sounded like Morning Jacket. But the band no doubt delivered a solid set, playing cuts like "No One's Gonna Love You," "Loredo," "The Great Salt Lake," and closed out with impressive take on the hit "The Funeral."
New Orleans-based Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, who were on first, played to a half-full Red Rocks, but didn't let that get in the way of a high energy funk and groove-fueled set included some impressive trombone playing by Shorty and a fueled up take on Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman," which got the crowd revved up.
Personal Bias: It's been close to a decade since the last time I'd seen My Morning Jacket, and needless to say it's pretty damn amazing how much those guys have grown since then.
Random Detail: Jim James played an Omnichord on "Tonight I Want to Celebrate With You."
By the Way: My Morning Jacket plays again tonight, and John Oates is supposedly sitting in.
My Morning Jacket Red Rocks Amphitheatre - 8/3/12 Morrison, CO
Rollin' Back The Way That He Sings Heartbreakin Man The Dark Lowdown Outta My System Holdin' on to Black Metal First Light War Begun I Will Sing You Songs Wonderful (The Way I Feel) - (with Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses) Librarian Rocket Man (Elton John) Tonight I Want to Celebrate With You Wordless Chorus Evil Urges Tyrone (Eykah Badu) Master Plan What a Wonderful Man Easy Mornin' Rebel It's About Twilight Now Never Tear Us Apart (INXS) Anytime
Butch Cassidy Victory Dance Off the Record Cobra Rock the Casbah (The Clash) Gideon
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!