My Morning Jacket | 11.20.06

It is up to us to do as James says and "Listen, Listen!" because "most of us believe that this is wrong." Go see the band if you're moderately interested, because they will undoubtedly pull you into a world that only exists in two-hour blips on rock history's radar.

 

The Pageant, St. Louis 

A "cleaned up" Jim James patrols a dark stage, minimally lit in deep blue. Taking a break from his passionate co-lead on guitar with Carl Broemel, he holds the microphone in one hand, yelping the final incoherent throws of "Wordless Chorus," which usually prompts me to ask my nearest friend, "What the hell is he saying there? ‘Jenny?' Is it ‘Jenny?' Or ‘Yea-ee?'" Of course, what follows is an "I don't care" look. On this night however, James is clutching a little buddy, and when I ask my friend Brett, "What is he holding?" Brett replies, "I think it's a wooly mammoth," in comedic candor.

Shortly after the song concludes, James tosses the stuffed animal aside (the in-between song house lights confirm that it was, indeed, a wooly mammoth), sings a few lines to the MMJ oldie, "Phone Went West," and gives his buddy a second look. Scurrying back to where the furry little beast lays on its side, James places the mammoth on its hind legs and affectionately pats its head, as if to say, "I'm sorry, little guy." That's all you need to know about My Morning Jacket: they are at once passionate, humble, dark, sensitive, ruggedly animalistic, and somehow ahead of their time while consistently being aware of their past.

On any given night, based on past experiences, it is clear that the Louisville five-piece is going to give their adoring audiences all they've got, and this night's show at The Pageant was no different. Beginning with an immediate zenith—the opening notes of "At Dawn"—and carrying through until the wane of "Anytime," a standout from their latest studio release, Z, James and Co. showed the converted and the curious what it means to rock. Put it this way: I guarantee that if any misplaced Panic! at the Disco fans stumbled into one of Patrick Hallahan's thumping, Sasquatch fills, or perhaps the jungle romp of a "Run Thru" bridge, they would've grown a beard by night's end. Not ones to be marked by posturing, however, the band's spokesman made clear that all appreciation was mutual, only pausing to express their disappointment for the City Museum being closed that night.

From a hauntingly aching encore performance of "Golden" to the ivory pangs of "What a Wonderful Man," My Morning Jacket showed why they project the brazen, yet classy intrigue of a stuffed bear wearing a smoking jacket (which, honestly, adorned the stage). If they keep up this sort of nightly effort, blending epic strength with relentless sensibility, this band will have done more than their part to change the face of modern rock 'n' roll. Keeping in mind the current state of the music industry, it's refreshing to know that there are still bands sincere and capable enough to take the reigns. It is up to us, however, to do as James says and "Listen, Listen!" because "most of us believe that this is wrong." Go see the band if you're moderately interested, because they will undoubtedly pull you into a world that only exists in two-hour blips on rock history's radar. My Morning Jacket presents important blips, my friends, because they are, truly, the innovators. | Dave Jasmon

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