The Tennessee Fire
The day before their four night run at the Beacon Theatre, My Morning Jacket was the subject of an article on the Village Voice. Jim James was quoted saying, “The thing that’s fun for us with a run of shows like this is that we aren’t going to repeat any songs. Every show will be completely different. It’s exciting to give the big fans a chance to hear songs they maybe never have. I also think we’re going to be able to play each song off of all our records.”
That’s quite a place to set the bar, James. (Not that Jacket is stranger to playing their discography in New York.) Going into Tuesday’s show, the song selection was wide open in the sense that nothing had been played yet. Even expecting a varying setlist would have been selling the show short, as My Morning Jacket focused seriously on early material during the course of the twenty-four-song set.
They kicked things off with “At Dawn” and “Bermuda Highway,” a couple of tracks from 2001’s At Dawn. Then gears switched over to the Tennessee Fire gem “I Will Be There When You Die.” The beginning lyrics of that one – “Joe was born in New York City, son of Paul and Catherine.” – received some big cheers by all those who paid attention. Slowly, Jacket revved up the intensity from early, acoustic ballads into the full-on theatre-shaking rock that they’ve been best known for over the last 15 years.
“The Bear” was the first taste of a real rocker, with the intense jam at the end garnering plenty of noise from the crowd. From there, Jacket proved why they’re still at the top of their class. If “Outta My System” is the kind of sing-along that has earned them some mainstream notoriety, then “Dondante” is a ‘street cred’ tune of sorts. The band stretched the eerie Z-ender into unchartered territory, proving that they’re still creating in-the-moment spectacles.
Other standouts included “O Is The One That Is Real,” a memorable track from their Songs Ohia split release, the lone Waterfall track “In Its Infancy,” and a balcony-shaking set-ender in “Holdin On To Black Metal.” To remind fans of the other projects their involved in, the New Basement Tapes cut “Down On The Bottom” made an appearance, as did guitarist Carl Broemel’s solo tune “Carried Away” – that one during the encore. With a 1-2 punch, Jacket ended the night with “Dancefloors” and “Gideon,” laced with solos, headbanging, and all the intensity you’ve come to expect from one of the great American rock bands of all time.