I decided to take a chance on this show although I'm not particularly well versed in this band's repetoire. I'd seen the stream from Bonnaroo this summer and had been impressed. I'd also seen their lead singer and guitarist Jim James at the Return to Sin City tribute to Gram Parsons a few years ago at the Universal Amphitheatre and thought he'd done a good job. I also really wanted to catch a show at the Moore. Along with the larger Paramount, it's one of two classy old theatres that gets used for shows here. I'd tried to see Ryan Adams there last year, but he'd gotten sick, so this was another chance to check this venue out. Ratdog's playing there on Feb. 17th, and I wanted to get a feel for the joint. I'd tried to get a ticket last Friday. They had been listed as still available that afternoon, but by the time I got across town, they'd sold out. The lady at the box office said they might release some around 6 p.m. on the day of the show, so I went back Monday afternoon. At about five 'til six I was standing in front of the box office, but the curtain was pulled close and I was just about to give up out of concerns of getting towed when a guy came up and sold me an extra. Good thing, because this show was completely sold out.
When I got to the show, some guy named Elvis Perkins was doing an opening set with his quartet. Pretty decent folk rock along the lines of Will Oldham's many projects. The crowd was receptive. Elvis plays guitar and sings, there's a drummer who also played a walking bass drum for a New Orleans 2nd line type number, a second guitarist who also played keyboards, harmonium and trombone during the N.O. number, and a bassist playing an interesting looking upright bass that looked like it was missing the bottom third of the instrument. My co-worker Ross and I took in this part of the show from some seats on the right side of the floor (it was G.A. on the floor), trying to catch a break after being on our feet all day at work. When their set ended we caught up with some friends out in the lobby, where it was quite the beehive of scenesters, hipsters and regular folks. It was a very diverse crowd, from Wooks to custie frat boys and teenagers to fifty somethings.
We reentered the theatre a few minutes before the main act, this time walking down to the pit in front of the stage. I met other friends who were astounded I'd gotten in. They started pointing out some of the interesting things about the theatre. Behind us was a steep double decker balcony. The theatre is getting a little run down, but it had some nice marble facades to the sides of the stage and some VIP boxes that some cute looking ladies were lounging out in. My friend Jake pointed out that the boxes to our left were the ones that Eddie Vedder had done his famous crawl along in the "Evenflow" video.
The lights went down and out came My Morning Jacket. They are a five piece these days. Jim James sings and plays a slew of guitars during the show, most prominently a Gibson Flying V. He looked like a fashion runway casualty from some New York designer show, sporting a vest and some weird looking boots that seemed like some odd hybrid of space boots and mucklucks. All appearances aside, these boys put on a kick ass rock and roll show. The bass player is really good, kicking out some muscular lines while showing some interesting counterpoint skills. He looked like a cross between Ralph Waldo Emerson and one of those old Confederate generals. The 2nd guitarist was another key player. He looked kind of like Shaggy from the Scooby-Doo show, but shared many graceful leads with James, and also played some pedal steel and sax during the course of the show. The drummer was a fairly rudimentary pounder, but had great energy and charisma, and along with Jim James, supplied the Wook factor for this band. I joked with my friends that I didn't know Philthy Animal Taylor had left Motorhead to join these guys! The last piece was a keyboardist. He mostly played chords on organ, but his sound seemed buried in the mix most of the night. My friends told me he stands out more on their albums.
Like I said, I don't really know the names of their songs, but it was an interesting blend of anthemic rock along the lines of U2, acoustic numbers reminiscent of Neil Young and the Stray Gators, and a couple of ventures into dub reggae grooves. The light show was top-notch, one of the best I've seen in a small theatre. They played for over two hours with about a five song half hour set of encores. James seemed really appreciative of the sold-out (around 2000 seats) crowd's support. He seemed to really dig the old theatre, giving us a history lesson by informing us that the Moore will be 100 years old this Christmas. He said he was honored to play a place with such good history.
After the show ended, I tried to get one of the set lists the roadies were giving out to the crowd, but they all went to ladies. Without that I can't tell you the names of the tunes, but I can strongly encourage you to see this band. It reminded me alot of when I saw U2 on their way up before they'd become a mega-popular act. They played for their lives and put on one hell of a show.
Nice! I really liked the set I saw at High Sierra this year, unfortunately when MMJ comes to SF, it's a big production already, they may have already passed me by.
Yep, I saw 'em on New Years knowing nothing about them and had a great time.
As I was saying to my friend at the show, "They don't all have to be Led Zeppelin, we just want a little rock 'n roll!"
There are a lot of AAA bands out there, but MMJ is definitely a Big League band.
Nice review, Dave! One of my favorite rock n roll bands playing today.
Dave, are you going to catch Ratdog on 2/17? I'm pretty excited, it's been a little too long since a family show rolled into town. Hope to see ya there.
Nice review Java Dave.
There's a superb recording of MMJ from a few months ago in Philly that is available as an AUDIO VINE; very little waiting for this one too. A good friend of mine was at this show and he continues to rave about it!
Jeremy, I do plan on catching Ratdog on the 17th for the Chinese New Year's Eve show. I've still got to pick up tickets, but I believe they're still available. My indie-rock friends were all skeptical as to whether Bobby can fill up the Moore. If they put on as good a show as the Showbox gig two December's ago, it will be well worth it. Since Phil hasn't visited these parts since 2001, Bobby is all we've got. Keep posted as the gig approaches and we can arrange a Zoner meet and greet.
Great Dave, I've been planning on the Chinese New Year & Ratdog. Been wondering for a while which family member would play one of the Seattle Theaters first, but since the Showbox gig Bob's gotta feel pretty good about returning to Seattle. Wasn't Jerry the last to play the Moore w/ JGB? Anyways lookin' forward to a night of music.
JGB at the Moore would have been sweet. That would have been before I moved up here. Maybe we'll have finally caught a break with the weather by the time the Dog Show rolls into town!
Dude I was gonna post a review too...Been listening to them for awhile, maybe year and a half or two, and had been waiting for them to come around by me...damn the East Cost! ;-) Anyhoo, I bought tix for the Wiltern in LA, but they were also playin the Anaheim HOB...normally I dislike the HOB...shitty venue...but have changed my tune a bit, it's all about locatiion.
So...the HOB sold out too, I didn't know they were gettin so big..and I was able to get about 10' from the stage. I must say I was blown away w/ the energy and intensity of these guys! Super raging band. The light show was insane!! Red/srobes on the opening number...I knew it was gonna rock. They did 2 solid hrs. J.James seemed real stoked they even sold out in the "OC"...but man that cats got some vocal range! And I thought the drummer was more than a pounder, he was sick! AS I was right in front of him...So I was totally blown away and stoked...
Next night at the Wiltern...sold out too....however the place is 5x's the size of the HOB, basically I could hardly see the band. Then it hit me, they don't quite have the catalog of tunes klike we were used to w/ the GD....I think there were only 4-5 non repeats...kinda bummed me. They were still good...but Anaheim had way more spacey-trippy jams from what I heard...And that they can add the sax and the pedal steel to their sound is great as I LOVE those instruments...
So go check 'em if you've never seen 'em....LOUD...LOUD band....One of my fav. newer bands out there....