The Scene: It was a bitter cold night in Denver, like sub-zero cold, but this show was sold out and it was anything but cold inside. We went in about halfway through Elvis Perkins’ set and found a spot against a rail about a third of the way back in the theatre. It was great for the remainder of Perkins set but as soon as set break arrived we knew were in for it. The show seemed oversold and everyone wanted to be up near the front. It was simply too crowded and the general attitude was one of “I deserve to be here so you can go to hell.” It was unfortunate but true, and many in our group just couldn’t take it and headed up to the Balcony after about 30 minutes.
It was nice to see that The Jackets are attracting a wide cross section of fans these days. There were young punk kids, preppy 20 somethings, a good number of yuppies out on a Saturday night and even some grey hairs most of whom didn’t really seem phased by the sardine like experience. They may play their own brand of spacey, grunged out, southern jam rock but apparently there is something for everyone in there somewhere and that is always nice to see.
Opener: Elvis Perkins. I would like to catch Perkins when he is playing his own set. His americana laced acoustic tunes didn’t carry well through the theatre and frankly it is hard to pay attention to a band when no one around gives a damn.
Perkins’ voice was reminiscent of Jerry Garcia and his band could have been a group of travelling minstrels, just trying to make their way. I’ve got to say that I was dissapointed that the Deerland Horns didn’t make an appearance during the set as I have heard great things about their contribution to the band.
I would like to give Mr. Perkins and his band another chance when they return to Denver, so I guess they made a good enough impression.
My Morning Jacket: DAMN! These guys can rock. I mean they REALLY rock. I would have checked the Ogden for structural stability after their two night stand. I am surprised they didn’t blow the back wall off the room. From the word “GO!” Jim James reverb drenched vocals, the ethereal guitars and keys, and the thunder of Patrick Hallahan’s drums forced the audience to pay attention. For their opener they launched into “It Beats 4 U” of off their most recent studio offereing Z It was clear we were in for a ride.
Relatively early in the evening, as James and company stomped and soared through several tracks off of Z including sure to be classics “Wordless Chorus,” “Off the Record” and “Gideon” it became clear that some of the best material from their previous albums fit in perfectly right along side. Tracks like “Lowdown” from their 2001 release At Dawn and “Golden” from 2003’s It Still Moves prove that Z wasn’t a fluke and is simply a product of a band who is reaching maturity. If they can continue to crank out albums like that one, they will go down in history with bands like Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.
As the night wore on the crowd thinned out a little bit and became a little easier to breathe. The band must have sensed the this and slammed us with the 1-2 punch of “One Big Holiday” and “Mahgeetah” to finish their set. They left the stage for a brief break and the audience response was deafening. Chanting, stomping, whistling and even some girlish shrieking beckoned The Jackets to return to the stage, and return they did for an eight song encore that they led off with “Into the Woods” from Z before giving us three crowdpleasers from It Still Moves, “Rollin’ Back,” “Easy Morning Rebel,” and “Dancefloors.”
Coupled with their incindiary performance was a jaw dropping light show. Master lighting designer Marc Janowitz is working with the band these days and his experience behind the board is immediately apparent as he fills the room with intense bursts of light and dense fog. Throughout the concert Janowitz matched the feeling and beat of the music perfectly and added significantly to the already immense power of the show.
If thunderous Rock-N-Roll that freaks a bit into the jam world, and mind blowing lights aren’t enough to convince you that these guys are a powerhouse in the music world then how about he old cliches of Gibson Flying V guitar and feather boas. Both of which James was sporting throughout the night. As he strutted and thrashed around the stage swinging his long scraggly hair it was impossible to miss his black and white moon boots that seemed to oddly complete the surreal look.
It was quite simply one of the best rock shows I have witnessed. They pulled out all the stops and threw caution to the wind. Despite the densely packed crowd and the attitude that unfortunately made the tight confines even worse, I would gladly brave another sub-zero night to catch these guys try to bring the house down again.
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: A