Concert review: My Morning Jacket at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre (with setlist)

James, as always, controlled the stage effortlessly and the tempo of the show fantastically. He rallies the crowd at his will, and just as easily slows down at some points to allow moments of focus. Songs like “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream, Part 2” and “Wordless Chorus” were charged with sexual energy, James thriving on the interaction with his fans. There is also always some element of humor or whimsy in their live shows; in this case, it came when James put on a donkey mask and continued playing guitar while bouncing energetically around the stage.


My favorite moment happened at the end of the main set when rain began to fall in a light misty haze, providing a dreamy atmospheric setting and perfect timing for “Smokin from Shootin.” At the end of the song, they ran directly into “Run Thru” (raising the crowd into a near frenzy with the pick-up at the end) and then closed with “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream, Part 2,” leaving everyone screaming for an encore.


When the band returned to the stage, they brought out Preservation Hall Jazz Band back with them. The St. Augustine show came just after both bands had played two shows in the Jazz Band’s native New Orleans, and they brought the energy of those performances into this evening., proving themselves the perfect backing band for “Highly Suspicious,” a song I enjoy more and more every time I see it live, the funk elements really emphasizing the Prince influence in James’ vocals.


The one disappointment of the evening was their choice to end the show with two covers: "Carnival Time" (by Al Johnson) and "Move on Up" (by Curtis Mayfield). Even with the Preservation Jazz Band joining them on stage, My Morning Jacket came off sounding like a house band at a bar, and it was a huge let down.


Still, they remain one of the most entertaining and generally consistent bands I’ve had the pleasure of seeing live. As they continue to develop and grow in popularity, I’m certain they'll keep delivering shows like the one this evening; and that fans will continue to make cross-state treks to see them whereever they headline.


Complete Setlist


One Big Holiday


Gideon


Off the Record


Touch Me I’m Going to Scream, Part 1


Golden


Magheetah


Losin Yo Head


Laylow


What a Wonderful Man


Steam Engine


His Master’s Voice


Smokin From Shootin


Run Thru


Touch Me I’m Going to Scream, Part 2


Wordless Chorus


Evil Urges


Highly Suspicious


Carnival Time (Al Johnson Cover)


Move on Up (Curtis Mayfield Cover)

For me, live shows are characterized by a symbiotic relationship; the atmosphere of a venue combined with the overall crowd energy and performance of the headlining band inform the overall experience. When you're going to see a favorite artist, these feelings are always intensified, especially when a road trip is involved, making it more of a musical pilgrimage. My Morning Jacket is undoubtedly one of the darlings of my musical collection, and their live show never disappoints. Last Tuesday’s performance with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band was no exception.

The St. Augustine Amphitheatre is a lovely outdoor theater; it seems intimate and cozy when you see it from the parking lot, shaded by mature oaks dripping in Spanish moss, yet it opens up unexpectedly into a full-scale venue. Once inside, I was surprised by a loud and clear sound system and excellent views of the stage from nearly every location in the place. The show wasn’t sold out, either, which gave it an even more exclusive feel to the night's performance.

The band entered dramatically with a high energy instrumental lead-in to “One Big Holiday,” the stage lights casting a multi-hued glow on fog machine plumes blowing in the light, early evening breeze. My Morning Jacket hasn’t toured the U.S. since 2008 because vocalist/songwriter/guitarist Jim James has been occupied, releasing a solo album, Yim Yames, and collaborating with Conor Oberst and M. Ward in indie supergroup, The Monsters of Folk. They are clearly well-rested and excited to be touring together again, and came out rocking harder than I’ve seen them in years.

The set for the evening was filled with selections from their last three records, and two songs, “Losin Yo Head," and “His Master’s Voice,” off The Monsters of Folk (the latter performed acoustically by James alone). While they always put on an incredible live performance, their sets typically feature more songs from their earlier releases. The excitement of seeing the band perform material from a new album was also missing. MMJ is certainly overdue for a release, but the one new song, “Friends Again,” was a nice taste of what to expect from their next album. It's heavily tinged with 1950’s influences and an alt-country overtones, and ended with Jim James taking over lead guitar duties from Carl Broemel.

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