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Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough

October 25th, 2010

My Morning Jacket – Terminal 5 – October 18-23, 2010

My Morning Jacket - Terminal 5 - October 21, 2010
Twelve years ago, My Morning Jacket was founded in Louisville, Ky. Since then, the band has gone through multiple lineup changes (only singer-guitarist Jim James and bassist Tom “Two-Tone Tommy” Blankenship remain) and has released five studio albums, three live discs and a host of EPs, singles and compilations. It’s a considerable amount of recorded work, so it seemed fitting when MMJ announced they’d play each LP over the course of five nights at Terminal 5. Some songs were played for the first time, and overall, it ended up being an epic career-spanning week of albums, B-sides, classic rock, soul, R&B and passion, guitars and thundering drums. In a word, it was triumphant

The Tennessee Fire – October 18, 2010

When taking over a venue for a week, it’s best to feel at home. To that effect, Terminal 5 was filled with various blown-up album covers and liner photos and three large chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Up until The Tennessee Fire’s last track, an untitled instrumental, was piped through the PA to start the show, everything was about expectations. In this case, it was that no one really knew what to expect. The band’s first album is a quiet affair. Plus two of the four musicians who recorded it, guitarist Johnny Quaid and drummer J Glenn, were no longer with the group. Delicate songs like “Old Sept. Blues” and “I Will Be There When You Die” remained just that, but other tracks with room to grow, like “It’s About Twilight Now” and “The Dark,” became bigger, especially when Quaid joined the band, lifting the sound with a three-guitar attack. After closing out the album, My Morning Jacket returned for a terrific encore, including Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” a ripping take on Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone,” Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” (with James’ voice booming), Rod Stewart’s “Hot Legs,” and the crowd left wanting more.

At Dawn – October 19, 2010

At Dawn, out in 2001, was notable for a keyboardist, Danny Cash (no longer with the band), being added to the mix. The songs were, again, haunting and they covered all sorts of musical terrain. But just like with the first album, some of the material was on the quieter side. Although when played live, these same tunes became something more. During the second song, “Lowdown,” a voice rang out: “Mellow, my ass!” And from there, things escalated. “X-Mas Curtain” was a highlight, but an extended “Phone Went West,” again with Quaid, stole the set. The encore included older fare, like “O Is the One That Is Real” and a fantastic, lengthy “Cobra,” and darker covers, Danzig’s “How the Gods Kill” and Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath,” but it was a take on the Rolling Stones’ foray into disco, “Miss You,” that sent ’em home smiling.

It Still Moves – October 21, 2010

It Still Moves came out in 2003. And as My Morning Jacket’s first major-label album, the disc marked a noted change in the music. It no longer seemed or sounded like just Jim James’ thing. Instead there was a fuller, all-band sound. Onstage you could see the difference by how often everyone else approached drummer Patrick Hallahan’s kit throughout the show. Because of his big hair and frenetic drumming style, people sometimes compare him to Animal of The Muppets. But with his rapid-fire drumming amidst the smoke and lights sometimes making it appear like Hallahan had extra arms, perhaps Ganesh is a worthier comparison. Speaking of the lights, it’s worth mentioning that the lighting rig was swapped out after the second show. What had been hazy and muted became poignant and direct.

When the band opened with “Mahgeeta” and “Dancefloors,” each worthy of closing a show, the crowd, lustily singing along, became alive, with those on the floor hopping like mad. A six-piece horn section winningly fleshed out some of the songs during the set. And let’s face it: Horns are like bacon, and everything is better with bacon. It Still Moves if filled with plenty of arena rock, and it would come as no surprise if MMJ does an arena tour next year following the release of their sixth LP. Nevertheless, as stellar as this set was, it paled in comparison to the encore. At the risk of offering too much information, following covers of Dylan’s “Tonight I’m Staying Here with You,” the Velvet Underground’s “Head Held High” and the Band’s fantastic tale of love lost, “It Makes No Difference,” I needed some sort of an adult diaper by the time the show ended with Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long.”

Z – October 22, 2010

The opening strains of Z’s “Wordless Chorus” found the band and audience working in unison. It was the fourth show—and Friday night—and everyone wanted to cut loose. “It Beats 4 U” pulsated, while the ethereal “Gideon” gently floated in the air and “Into the Woods” featured a different kind of horn section: four guys wearing Viking helmets singing falsetto. The set, like the album, closed with a great “Dondante.” The encore began quietly with “Chills” (a bonus track on Z) and Shel Silverstein’s “Lullabyes, Legends and Lies” before upping the intensity with Funkadelic’s “Hit It and Quit It,” the Who’s “A Quick One While He’s Away,” which they properly thrashed and could have ended the show with, Prince’s “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”—jammed out twice—and George Michael’s “Careless Whisper,” with guitarist Carl Broemel handling sax duties. This final song devolved into the band throwing bananas into the audience as everyone repeatedly sang, “Ba-ba bananas, nanas.” And it was.

Evil Urges – October 23, 2010

My Morning Jacket’s fifth studio effort, Evil Urges, earned a fair amount of radio play and some very positive reviews. And as the final album to be played over a remarkable five-night run, things were sure to get loud and rowdy from the first notes of “Evil Urges.” Crowd favorites like “Highly Suspicious” (who doesn’t love a peanut-butter-pudding surprise?), the air-guitar friendly “I’m Amazed” and “Aluminum Park” kept everyone moving throughout the set. The band took a very short encore break before returning to the stage to play two new songs, “Circuital” and “Friends Again,” plus “Carried Away,” from Broemel’s new solo disc. After a couple more tunes, the covers returned: They doubled down on the Velvet Underground’s Loaded with a searing version of “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” and then took on Sly & the Family Stone (“Hot Fun in the Summertime”) before eventually closing with some Curtis Mayfield, “Move on Up.” My Morning Jacket took another encore break before coming back one last time, for a very fitting high-energy “One Big Holiday,” leaving the happy crowd “feelin’ good and limber” enough to smilingly step out into the night. —R. Zizmor

Photos courtesy of Dino Perrucci | dinoperrucciphotography.com