December 7, 2011
Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
Grand Prairie, TX USA
Review by William Meckfessel
Photos by Giovanni Gallucci
My Morning Jacket
The wait seemed to go on forever. When your only interest at a show is the main act, sitting through an insufferable opening band only makes the time go by painfully slower.
Delta Spirit, in my book, blew a golden opportunity to impress a near capacity crowd at the Verizon Wireless Center. A noticeably intoxicated Matthew Vasquez, the lead singer of the group, should have been drawn and quartered by his own band mates for the lackluster performance he put on. Throughout their 45-minute set, the singer would fumble over words he garbled into one long warped sentence, laugh at his own jokes (which weren't too funny to begin with), and meander his way through rambling thoughts that went absolutely nowhere.
"I'll...I'll tell you something...My Morning Jacket," he slurred, "they're...they're good...guys. Nice guys. They take good care...of us, and their crew. Always, always! Yeah ... They'll just be like...um... ‘Are you guy's hungry? You want something to eat?' Yeah...you never go hungry...with My Morning Jacket...good care of us...yeah."
Get this idiot off the stage. When Delta Spirit ended their set with a cover of Pink Floyd's classic, "Wish You Were Here," the flubbed lyrics by Vasquez definitely made you want to plant a firm boot in his ass and kick him to the curb, permanently. After an opening disaster like that, My Morning Jacket had better be spectacular. Twenty minutes after the openers had stumbled and bumbled their way off stage, the lights went down. Perhaps MMJ sensed they needed to come out quickly to settle down the restless crowd.
As the intro to "Victory Dance" pumped the crowd up, Jim James sang all the high notes of the brass section. As the song ended, James began to feedback his guitar. This random action became habit forming. After almost every song, the mercurial front man would go into his own world for a minute or two. After a while, the horrible screeching somehow became entrancing to the human ear.
Spontaneous, unwritten musical spins at the end of tunes seemed to be a key theme for this evening. Even with songs like "Golden", a jam ensued. It included James leaning close to the front of the stage begging the crowd to reach out and touch him. These unscripted performances added a bit of panache to their music. What made these impromptu jams exciting for the fans was the fact MMJ was creating musical moments in the here and now, never to be recreated again. However, there was a downside to these off-the-cuff moments after the band had extended three straight songs. It simply grew a bit tiresome. The spur-of-the-moment sessions compromised the very essence of the original songs. If you are a true MMJ fan, that's not something you want to hear. I would have rather heard a couple of more songs be added to the play list, then again, "methinks I doth protest too much."
James earned the fans forgiveness when he introduced a raunchy Chuck Berry guitar solo during the ending bridge of "Off the Record." It gave the song a new and exciting look. After MMJ exposed the audience to this unexpected highlight, they began an unusually long string of incredibly slow songs. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing this occurred; it just should have been broken up in the set instead of strung all together. The series of tunes was saved by the band's fabulous rendition of "Wordless Chorus." The jaw dropping performance not only energized the crowd, but deepened my appreciation for the band that seemed to be having an off night at times.
My Morning Jacket's five-song encore was unquestionably the best part of the night. "Circuital" and "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 2" sounded great. "One Big Holiday," perhaps the band's biggest hit, ended the evening's festivities. As I was leaving the facility, I couldn't help but think I'd just seen my favorite band simply go through the motions this particular night. Perhaps my assessment was too critical since I'm such a huge fan of the group.
I expected more out of this seasoned group despite some of the rare nuggets they pulled out of the past to play this evening. Then again, after two plus hours of watching MMJ, I was still ticked off I had to sit through a dreary opening act. Regardless of the array of emotions I experienced this evening, one thing was for certain. Even when My Morning Jacket is not at its finest, Jim James & Company never leaves you with a lingering bad taste in your mouth. For that, I'm eternally grateful.
Outta My System
It Beats 4 U
Off The Record
Slow Slow Tune
Smokin' from Shootin'
Holdin' on to Black Metal
The Day Is Coming
Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Pt. 2
One Big Holiday