Reviews > Shows
My Morning Jacket at the State Theatre
Photo by Autumn DeWilde
My Morning Jacket
Before Friday, October 15, the members of My Morning Jacket never really had a chance to enjoy the friendly confines of the State Theatre in Portland, Maine. Midway through this concert, guitarist and vocalist Jim James recounted how the last time the band played at the State, bassist Tom Blankenship became sick when he ate seafood before the show and had to be taken to the hospital. The band played on at Blankenship’s behest, who joined for the encore. “It was a trip to hell without bass,” James said. Now, with full ensemble, reopening the State Theatre after four years of renovations and intrigue, the band and venue were primed for take two.
The acoustics of the intimate venue (between 1450 and 1680 capacity) enhanced the warm, immediate sound coming from the speakers. James, Blankenship, and guitarist Carl Broemel would each turn towards drummer Patrick Hallahan usually in the middle of guitar solos or group jams as if in reverence to the source of creation. The coolest customer of the bunch was keyboard player Bo Koster, always calm and in control no matter the situation.
After opening with “Wordless Chorus” and “Gideon,” the band deviated from atmospheric rockers to delve slowly and thoroughly into their country-tinged, often melancholy numbers. “They Ran” was the most developed of the five-song bunch. The background vocals from Broemel and Koster lent a ’50s torch song vibe to the character of the tune. James opened his prodigious pipes with lilting, gentle wordless vocals, spreading the gospel of the band’s opening statement. James shies away from showy melisma and instead underscores the priceless melodies with his voice, no words necessary. After all, as the man earlier sang, “It’s just the way that he sings, not the words that he says.” The band let loose when Koster began to solo, steadily giving way to big, dramatic pauses that yielded to heavenly drops back into the structure. A superbly crafted piece that, along with their stirring performances of “Steam Engine” and Broemel’s “Carried Away,” were the deepest felt songs of the night.
After a rhythmically heavy “Dondante,” the band slid into the ending jam of the set. “Smokin’ From Shootin’” segued into the spirited ending of “Run Thru.” The electro-metal of the main riff eventually led the band into the tickling, electronic introduction of “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt. 2” This tune kept its dark, dance-inflected pace until the note that ruptured the still surface ripped a hole through cold air. A shrill, terrified scream led the band into the ending jam of “Lay Low.” The guitars teased each other before harmonizing in a terrific burst of energy. This sequence was the undisputed high of the show. The encore set that followed reinforced much what came before: country, deep grooves, ballads, and guitar-heavy jams. A triumphant evening, anthemic and rollicking. Or, as James said earlier, “We always wanted to come back and burn this place to the fuckin’ ground.”
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