With gray skies hovering warmly over downtown Cleveland on Friday night, My Morning Jacket quietly emerged onto the stage at Jacobs Pavilion and dropped into "Victory Dance," one of the primo openers in their arsenal. Singer Jim James wandered around the stage, looking wholly in his element with a small sampler tied around his neck, singing the entrancing lyrics. The capacity crowd was along the ride at every twist and turn throughout last night's show.
A few years removed from their most recent album, The Waterfall
, My Morning Jacket has found themselves in a summer tour less restricted by new releases and singles. On the banks of the Cuyahoga, MMJ kicked the second show of that tour, a real heater in every sense that built on a terrific past year since regrouping after 2016's Ray LaMontagne tour
(on which members of MMJ performed).
This was the first time I'd seen MMJ after years of listening to their albums here and there. I've always liked them, but — and this seems off-base in light of last night's excellent show — I let them exist on the periphery of my regular listening. I knew that I'd enjoy the show, and now I'm sitting here thinking that I should have been going to Jacket shows for years.
The three moments that really stood out to me:
(1) Wonderful and Golden worked really well as a gentle, lap steel-infused breather.
(2) State of the Art was a great, shining moment for James, and then immediately afterward Dondante dovetailed into an incredible jam segment bookended by James' bluesy one-man lament and a later bit that featured Carl Broemel on sax. It was a thrilling peak that truly anchored the main set.
(3) The encore was just spectacular. I wasn't sure if they'd be going into a second set, like I was hoping, but the five-song encore did the trick well enough. There was a jam out of either Lay Low or Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 2 that absolutely blew my mind. (I'm thinking of the one where Broemel just walked to the back corner of the stage and faced the river.) One Big Holiday was unbelievable, and the lights were really just out of this world at this point.
Bottom line: This was a great show, and the first real tremendous rock 'n' roll show of the summer here in Cleveland. James told the crowd before Blowin' In The Wind that it was "an honor and a privilege" to be here in the city. (Keys man Bo Koster, who was on fire last night, grew up in Lakewood and attended the Cleveland Institute of Music.) The band will be in Columbus Aug. 10, if you'd like another trip this season.
If there are any tapers out there, please do get in touch.
Outta My System
In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)
Wonderful (The Way I Feel)
Believe (Nobody Knows)
State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)
Blowin' in the Wind
Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 2
One Big Holiday