My Morning Jacket (w/ Amos Lee)
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
August 4, 2011
If there ever was a place where once played, bands can feel as though they have arrived, it is Red Rocks Amphitheatre.The site of many a remarkable event that boasts a picturesque setting to boot, Red Rocks is the Rolling Stone of venues. On this night, My Morning Jacket would once again call the coveted stage their own… with a little help from recent smashing success, Amos Lee.
The calm, soothing voice of Amos Lee makes for some fine listening. The crooner’s voice is like Valium to the ears. As he began his set amidst a setting sun and the glory of the rocks, the soothing sounds created a calm before the storm. He and his band were slated as the opening act for one of the most highly anticipated Red Rocks shows of the summer, and by no means did they disappoint. The recent release of Mission Bell (that debuted at number one on Billboard’s Top 100) provided new material in the form of renditions of “El Camino” and “Windows are Rolled Down.” Not only does Amos have a breathtaking uniqueness in his voice and songwriting-with-the-best chops, his instrumental prowess is top notch. The swollen crowd of fans that were gathered down front below the soundboard was testament to the need for a return of Amos and his band. Maybe the next time we see him at Red Rocks it will be as a headliner.
Louisville, Kentucky has many fine exports. Some are used to hit homeruns in the big leagues and others are barreled and aged for consumption. My Morning Jacket is one of the more recent discoveries from the bluegrass state. They definitely have long ball capabilities and, on this night, a taste (in an ear candy kind of way) that was oh so good when poured over the (Red) rocks.
Still reeling from the relatively recent blockbuster, Circuital, the set opened in the same manner as have all of the other summer dates with “Victory Dance,” the track that also opens the aforementioned release. It is a dandy of an opening tune. As the song began with the cry of front man Jim James, the night gave way to darkness, and with the yield, a feeling of mystery and excitement set in. The song has a perfectly natural build, and by the time the band landed in the title track “Circuital,” the stage had been set for one of the summer’s most epic evenings.
The night provided a perfect mix of new material and older tried and true classics like “Off the Record,” “I’m Amazed” and “Gideon,” all played with the fervor of a garage band still trying to find its way.
Only five songs into what would be an over two and a half hour rock and roll show, the band had railed its way through enough hits to fill a slated hour for one of the unfortunately few remaining modern rock radio stations. But despite bringing the heat right out of the gates, the band did struggle through some sound (and crew oversight) issues.
At one point, Jim James’ guitar tech ambled his way onstage to trade out rigs with the thrift-store appareled front man but forgot to unplug the axe that was exchanged. In turn, the tech began tuning over top of the band.Â It was a small problem to overcome, but was easily forgiven by the time that the Louisville quintet broke into “The Bear,” an illusive, subdued and fairly deep cut from 1999’s Tennessee Fire.
Like many great summer nights, no one wanted things to come to a close; the crowd reaching for the sky to the tune of music that certainly had no ceiling. However if the good ones never ended, how would we ever know how to measure?Â Everyone in attendance had felt the magic and the band poured their gracious praises for their fans, the opportunity to play such an amazing venue and the beauty of each other’s company. James even exclaimed how gorgeous of a place Red Rocks was and how magical it was to be given the opportunity to play by poetically encapsulating the setting, stating that the “rocks looked like big arms wrapping around us all – embracing us in the beauty.”
A four-song encore that began with “Wordless Chorus” was definitely a great way to revel in that appreciation. James completely gave himself to the power of the song. Draped in his cape, he danced his way across the stage and out to the crowd. “Holding on to Black Metal,” Circuital‘s big single, followed. This song that is filled with dubbed in childlike choral accompaniment definitely has staying power and will most certainly go on to be one of the bands true classics.
Speaking of classics “Anytime” and the anthemic (opener of old and consummate closer of new) “One Big Holiday” closed the night in fine form. Signaled by the signature hi-hat work of drummer Patrick Hallahan, the closer sewed up the evening — if by no other means — through title alone… there was no doubt that the evening had been just that, one big holiday.