HAPPY BIRTHDAY OBIE!!!!! OBIE IS THE ONE WHO IS REAL
10. Denver, 1st Bank Center 12/29/17
9. OBH4 Night II 3/3/2018
8. Red Rocks 5/28-5/29/2016
7. Fillmore, SF 11/11-11/12/2005 "Okonokos" shows
6. New Year's Eve @ Fillmore, SF 12/31/2006
5. Bonnaroo 2004
4. Capitol Theater 2012 12/27-12/29/2012
3. Bonnaroo 2008
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
2. BONNAROO 2006 (6/16/2006)
MANCHESTER, TENNESSEE @ BONNAROO FESTIVAL
While Bonnaroo 2008 carried its own savage pressure, My Morning Jacket's fourth appearance at the festival gained hushed intensity as the only other mandatory show of the weekend next to Radiohead, the appearance which created the biggest buzz.
Although amongst true music fans, indie rock hipsters and classic rock devotees who waited in vain for a band to save rock and roll, My Morning Jacket's return to Manchester, Tennessee was greeted with wondrous curiosity.
Most festival attendees owned Z or It Still Moves, many heard the glowing favor from Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, John Fogerty, Cameron Crowe and Dave Matthews, most had seen the band's full force assault at Bonnaroo at least once (2003, 2004, 2005) but for those who went without warning to MMJ's 3 hour and 10 minute exhibition in June 2006, you became a Jacket obsessive for life.
Bonnaroo 2006 became the first time the band ever played over the 3 hour mark (or over 2 hours and 25 minutes), challenging themselves and their fans as they became true rock and roll throwbacks, reviving the competitive "blow out the cannons" all-night-long heroics of Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers & The Grateful Dead.
During those 3 hours and 10 minutes, MMJ conjured an unfathomable sorcery which was born from the fiery baptism of those 2004 Manchester, Tennessee rains: a 6th unknown member of the band.
Fused from their ruthless musicianship and timeless personalities, the soul of all five members combines on these nights and becomes something singular, ominipresent and fluid:
These were rock and roll cannibals preparing to feast....
With Okonokos coming out that fall, MMJ gave fans an early preview of the ultimate Jacket experience, running the gamut of Tennessee Fire's heaviest tracks ("The Dark", "Heartbreakin Man", "It's About Twilight Now"), 8 each from It Still Moves and Z, 5 from At Dawn and a collection of their most ambitious and rewarding covers "It Makes No Difference", "A Quick One (While He's Away)", "Lovin Cup", a medley of Gram Parsons' Flying Burrito Brothers' classic "Older Guys" straight into The Velvet Underground's "Head Held High"....all possibilities were on the table.
Perfectly encapsulating the nocturnal forest vibe of Z, the band took the stage just after midnight, aiming for the precise time to show off new lighting director Marc Janowitz's stunning visuals, another hallmark of the soon-to-arrive live document Okonokos....it was here Janowitz turned Bonnaroo's Tent Stage into a cavern of the damned.
My Morning Jacket were fully aware of the impact a great showing might have: it was on this night MMJ first became talked about as a potential jam band rather than an indie rock influencer, but in actuality, 6/16/2006 became the evening in which MMJ stunned the world by doing it all... which was why they planned a 3 hour and 10 minute buffet full of every song they could possibly think of, all as each member thrashed and flew around with reckless abandon.
We've heard rumors of MMJ using performance-enhancing substances, although with no confirmation to that speculation, we leave that to you the dear fan's imagination....what happens at Bonnaroo stays at Bonnaroo...unless you've got crabs.
This was a raw set of incendiary drive, full of inconsequential, impassioned mistakes due to Jim's physical flailing, collective nerves or something else ("I Will Sing You Songs", "Off The Record" Pat starting the hi hat intro to "Way That He Sings" instead of starting "Lowdown"), moments where MMJ seemed to explode into a million pieces...only to recover into a glorious crescendo during the same instance ("Lay Low", "I Will Sing You Songs" again)...there's a reason their 2006 'Roo stand remains so high on the list of many fans' favorite shows ever.
In the summer of 2006, there's still a slab of the youthful "take on the world" mentality from Jim and the gang, with many in the Bonnaroo crowd yet to become inundated by the flood of MMJ's music:
Existing among the festival's assembled musicians, filmmakers or tastemaking clubheads was a cautious "they better impress us" vibe, permeating throughout the press section and VIP area, a genre-obsessed barrier which MMJ would erode by the song...
Inside the tent where MMJ would establish themselves as the definitive best band on planet earth, a spectral darkness fell upon the crowd, a mystifying bleakness illuminated only by the flickers from cameras.
Carrying a lantern aloft as the intro tape "When You Wish Upon A Star" crackled and popped through the P.A, Jim peered out into the large crowd with a hand cupped over his eyes, erasing the intensive expectations and pressure upon My Morning Jacket in a matter of hilarious seconds.
Despite the lax vibe, the band delivered every song with a brazen edge, going right for the gut from liftoff:
The alien drone of "Wordless Chorus" shook the foundations, their anthem always providing a spectacular introduction to any Jacket gig; Once the band hit the first chorus, they understood each other's groove...an important word on this night.
"Wordless" was an excalibur opening beast, pinched silly by Jim's vocals wobbling with teetering nervousness, but he reclaims all and never loses a note.
Emulating the Z album, one of my favorite pre-2012 versions of "It Beats 4 U" follows, a doomy recall of the first two tracks of Z, only now using far more menace and creepiness in the atmosphere. Whether this version's spookiness is due to Andrew Bird recreating his whistling from the record or not, this Bonnaroo '06 rendition packs such a dark punch which is hard to quantify or explain.
Continuing the Z theme of the night, a radioactive "What a Wonderful Man" came up to the plate, the guitars thrashing in carnal savagery. Watch the footage, Jim jumps around like a demon hopped up on Black Oak Arkansas and reds, his Ovation 12 string guitar supplying a rapid-fire assault.
As if they were hell-bent on freezing every fan in their spot within the first few songs, "One Big Holiday" followed quickly on the heels of "Wonderful Man", Patrick's slashing hi-hats building the crowd's anticipation to a fever pitch, MMJ only giving them a release when the chords clatter and Jim goes "Wakin up...feelin....good and limber...when the telephone it rings..."
"OBH" sounds riveting only four tracks into the set list, shorn of its typical finale setting; "OBH" perfectly slays any fan demanding one great song to hook them, grabbing scores of new fans by the show.
"OBH" has it all, catchy vocal melodies, an overwhelming chord progression, guitar pyrotechnics unheard in modern "indie rock": we bore witness to Jim & Carl's 6 string finesse administering supreme punishment....and yet the Jacket guitar duo were only getting started.
MMJ's 2006 Bonnaroo ride will always be remembered for its maximum potency and the Jacket's youthful defiance, headbanging home every slammed power chord, Jim zooming from one section of the stage to the other during the solos...an indie rock Angus Young.
Bonnaroo 2006, much like RR 2016, was all about honoring the band's classic rock roots, not only in the covers they'd select but in the throwback fury in which Jim James and co delivered their own songs:
Flickers of DNA from The Who's sequencer-friendly Who's Next ("Gideon" or "Anytime"), jams which were more purposeful than a variety of Zeppelin's best shows while contending with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant's bombast (see "Dondante") and there were noticeable slabs of Stones-indebted rocking & rolling ("Lovin Cup" / "Easy Morning Rebel Jam", "Dancefloors", "The Dark", "Older Guys" > "Head Held High")....one wonders how on earth "Honest Man" missed the set list.
Regardless of cover choices or influences, My Morning Jacket's sound stood alone as a towering achievement unto itself: They were Rock and roll at its core in an era of "rock's death", these were men playing guitars, keys and drums while never hiding behind them...
Starting off their slew of covers was a rampant medley of the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Older Guys", a rollicking Gram Parsons tune (given a jolt of Les Paul lightning against Jim's Stratocaster slash) joined by the Velvet Underground's "Head Held High".
This was a new medley they'd cooked up for the Rites of Spring festival in Nashville earlier that year, handing Parsons' track the Stonesian burst it always called for.
Marrying the same key, MMJ kept the same flavor straight into the Velvet Underground's Loaded masterpiece "Head Held High", tying it to the same lowdown riffage of "Older Guys", only now juiced up from Carl and Jim's pummeling rhythm guitars.
"They said the answer was to...become a dancer with your head held high!!!" Jim sang in a amalgamation of Lou Reed on quaaludes at Nellcote 1971 with the Stones, bashing the riff on his rarely used Strat, the cameras catching Tom's boyish smirks.
From there, MMJ's ever expanding set list shifted in tone, rooting itself in 5 tracks from At Dawn and It Still Moves, alternating between the band's contemplative and rocking moods, showcasing their dynamism and ability to transition or combine tones, often within the same song.
Andrew Bird's whistling theremin-esque vibes colored "Lowdown" in a white lightning tinge to the song's lazy orange sonic palette. "The Way That He Sings" came next, Jim James intent on belting every word as if he were singing the final encore, the song's inspira-rock rave-up finale featuring a preview of the Townsend wind-meeling action which would culminate later on.
The dark mysticism of "Masterplan" at its core was unleashed next for its Bonnaroo debut. Before the 2003 opus became Carl's shredding vehicle, this song's live impact lived inside the wall of titanic 6th and 5th string power chord bends rather than squealing guitar heroism.
On this night, the reverb on Jim and Carl's guitars adds a spooky atmosphere, building into a beautiful bedlam of clashing groove riffs, Patrick riding the cymbals which adorned the patented Bonham groove.
MMJ's bizarre versatility was displayed yet again on another change of pace move, a rousing "At Dawn" into an extended, crowd-pleasing grade A "Golden", the perfect pairing of comedown songs amidst MMJ's titanic set....with so much ground still to cover.
"Bonnaroo loves you!!!" An ecstatic fan screamed following a seminal "At Dawn".
In between songs, Jim initiated to Sound Engineer Ryan Pickett "hit it!" and delved into a speech thanking the crowd while backed by some unknown R&B classic (or faked Jacket creation) with the "daaaamn" sample from "Anytime" inserted at random intervals, a synchronized moment of hilarity once again in a set defined by MMJ's trademark off the wall humor.
"We're ready to go for a long time tonight if you are," Jim challenged the crowd at that point, the joyous voices of pagan youth and converted 70s survivors buying the ticket and taking the ride.
"Gideon" began the rockist pull back from the previous indie leanings, the third track from Z administering another echo of The Who's influence, Bo's sequencers and floating synth paving the way for Patrick's cinematic tom tom fills or Tom's physicality pumping away on bass.
Again, Andrew Bird joined his friends, providing the same electrified symphonics he performed on the album, giving this version its own unique flavor amongst an era of carbon copy "Gideon" renditions.
The audience were enthralled amidst the tent's half outdoor / half indoor enclosure, Bonnaroo's Jacket crowd giving off a communal, woodsy, outer south vibe....perhaps a preferable locale for Okonokos's true placeless intentions.
After Carl's slide steals Xmas Curtain away, two old friends (one an ex Jacket member) took their place on stage for the coolest "Dondante" crossover ever: Louisville buddies Mike DeSalvo (playing a Rickenbacker 6 string through a very dirty amp) and MMJ's At Dawn-era drummer K.C Guetig adding cymbal splashes on "A Quick One" or latin percussion at the start of "Dondante".
Daring to mix Fela Kuti's "Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am" within "Dondante" was beyond a bold roll of the dice, dramatically altering the intro with tinges of Santana vibes before returning to the Z closer's original F Minor to C minor jam fest climax....yet practice made perfect (the arrangement being ironed out at Evanston Illinois' Patten Gymnasium concert that April).
They continued with the "Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am" arrangement through the quieter verses until Jim says "like a joke";
On the word "joke", suddenly Tom's bass inverts back to the C minor to G opening notes before Jim begins the breakdown guitar solo leading up to the big build-up, just as "Dondante" normally would flow....the rest wouldn't just be a typical 2006-era jam though.
Here was a band always ready to jump head-first off the cliff of improvisation, while fulfilling the payoff every time...an altogether near extinct feat and one the band continue to demonstrate still after all these years:
Bonnaroo 2006's "Dondante" was an "ancient to modern" astral projection from lost civilizations to lost friends, a musical keepsake for all eras... put on the tape or the footage...sit back, get relaxed...it will take you places.
DeSalvo's Rickenbacker guitar adds the meat for Carl and Jim to really get wild on the lead parts, Broemel slapping his Bigsby tremolo silly as Jim's Crazy Horse soloing flavors take root within the suffocating flood.
Easily one of the top 3 versions of "Dondante"... I've listened to this rendition at least three or four times a month (if not far far more) every year since 2006...
My Morning Jacket's power can overwhelm, even for those who remain obsessed....
Following the face-removing "Dondante", the Jacket summoned three of their top 10 greatest rockers "Dancefloors", "Anytime" and "Mahgeetah" to blaze the main set to a finish, a complete demonstration of the Jacket's power to pillage an audience:
First the Stones theme returned to a boogying eternity on a loose and lusty "Dancefloors" (one of the more high octane airings of the song, finally giving the saloon vibes a shot of manic energy); after "Dancefloors" came the emotional catharsis of "Anytime", the world seen through the prism of Jim's raucous "climbing up to the moon" vocals, the trifecta capped off by a slaying "Mahgeetah" full of Jim's EVH impersonations or Angus Young theatrics, Bo's organ steambreathing across proceedings (Koster now unleashed as a mad phantom Duke of Earl, lording over the rocker).
As "Mahgeetah" ended, many Jacket skeptics, newbies or even straight up doubters must've felt like "wow! That was the perfect 1 hour and 30 minute rock show, what a great young band this is! They're total underdogs!"
It was on this night, June 16th 2006 when the world finally found out exactly what kind of band My Morning Jacket were:
If Bonnaroo 2004 showed their perseverance against all odds, their ability to inspire and excite a crowd, then Bonnaroo 2006 was their time to prove to themselves just what they were capable of, how far they could push the envelope...and in the wake of Z, on the cusp of Okonokos, this was their time for world domination...showing everyone exactly who was the True Kinghell band of this era.
Though they'd announced their intentions to continue, some fans must've trickled out, believing there was no way this group would have more in the tank after that.
But just as they would perpetrate two years later, their encore return sealed the show in G.O.A.T glory:
Again, DeSalvo and Guetig took the stage to assist My Morning Jacket on one of the toughest covers imaginable, a full and exacting run through of The Who's 1966 epic "mini opera" "A Quick One (While He's Away)".
Think about the well-placed ambition here...no "Stairway to Heaven" or some crass choice: "A Quick One" is a song most Who fans have never heard, becoming such a difficult experiment to perform even the Who wouldn't touch it after 1970, and definitely won't go anywhere near the mini opera without Keith Moon on drums.
Playing like starving demons, My Morning Jacket debuted an outrageous rendition of "A Quick One" while many fellow peers watched in eager astonishment; in their capable hands, these 5 men somehow elevated the mini-opera above and beyond Pete Townsend's creation....how can that be possible?
Even Townsend himself would surely cop to the fact.
HOW IS HALLAHAN NAILING EVERY ACROBATIC KEITH MOON FILL??
Under the fingerprints of MMJ, each section of "A Quick One" took on a new life of its own, morphing due to the bizarre mutations of Jim's voice from hilarious British accent to bare naked shrieks to the Muppets-esque grandeur of it all, Jim James is undeniably on a roll at Bonnaroo 2006.
Who knows how he hit every word of Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey's classic vocals correctly in combination with the Townsend chords, literally soaring at times as he sang all 3 main characters in the song (with snatches of help, Carl audibly "Britishing" it up by yelling "dirty old sod!" when Jim introduced the "Ivor The Old Engine Driver" section).
Although they'd tested their arrangement a few times in rehearsals, Bonnaroo 2006 was their debut of "A Quick One (While He's Away)", the first of only three all-time airings. Blown away by MMJ's cover version of his favorite band's hardest / craziest / longest song, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder organized their opening slot in September 2006's European tour...and of course he hatched up the plan to join the Jacket onstage for the song in Turin (as seen on the DVD of Danny Clinch's Pearl Jam film Immagine In Cornice).
But on this ceremonial barbed wire night in Manchester, Tennessee's dew fields, the G.O.A.T rock and roll force blazed this version even better than the Who themselves....seriously.
So....from The Who...what should we do next...how about....The Stones, right?
That's madness...impossible....no way....
Just like Jim tying Metallica and Motley Crue together 2 years later during Bonarooo 2008, here came MMJ's Classic Rock Death Match Vol I: The Who VS The Stones...
Exile On Main Street's "Lovin Cup" is already one of my all time favorite songs anyway...I'm a kid who saved up my entire summer working at an amusement park just to see them in 2005 (I was in 9th grade)...so when I first heard this cover, I was beyond floored: I was eclipsed by the fist, I was marooned...
No, the Stones didn't play "Lovin Cup" that night back in 2005, but the power and vibe of Exile (and even like-minded album from the same era Sticky Fingers) was drenched all over The Stones' set list during "All Down The Line", "Tumbling Dice", "Brown Sugar", "Wild Horses" and more...but that is without doubt the Stones trademark sound....and although they couldn't quite recreate the basement of Nellcote during the 1972 U.S tour or that night on the Bigger Bang tour, here came these 5 Southern / Midwestern American boys to give us the real "sweet summer sun"...restoring the wounded bliss from the Stones' original far better than Phish ever pulled off.
Even Jack White's Billy Bob Thornton impersonations can't hit the dilapidated truth of "Lovin Cup"...
Jim James stirs us with a vocal that's neither a Jagger-inspired slop-off or an aimless hail Mary....Jim devastates the Stones track in his own unique husk, though he still gets in a few humorous British-isms when he enunciates "by the fire"....then, the rendition takes liftoff towards a cannon-blasting ending. On the audience tape one can clearly hear more than a few middle aged males orgasmically hooting and hollering in unbelieving ecstasy at what they were hearing...
Here the five Southern / Midwestern boys may have come close to equaling the Stones track....after all, The Stones always wished they'd been born in America.
Elsewhere, certain musical luminaries in the crowd looked to each other and mouthed "Wow" or "Jesus" and shook their heads as it all came too easy for Jim James, "GIMME A LIL DRINK! OH WOAH OH!!!!" Bo's statesman piano busting down the doors on the intro, Carl's Les Paul barks and bites with open tuning snarl, Jim's ES-335 building the open chord bed for Bo Koster and Carl to really shine a light....but right when the song should've concluded, James ripped into his sunburst ES-335 and hit the ending jam riff to "Easy Morning Rebel", a reptilian boogie fitting precisely with the urgent chords of "Lovin Cup":
This combination has to be one of my favorite Jacket moments, one of uplifting swagger and humbucker sizzling intensity (listen to that scream by Jim at 6:10 and Pat's fill beginning at 6:21), burning the tent to the ground as Mikey DeSalvo tossed his head off to the vicious groove jam.
MMJ were starting to get truly wicked.
Tom's bass kept chugging after the final "Easy Morning Rebel" chord was left hanging and suddenly a fucking Danzig cover "Attitude" raged out of the P.A, the three guitar army of James, Broemel and DeSalvo purely sacrificing their fifth and sixth strings to the "punk" classic (Danzig's song was popularized by Guns N Roses' Duff McKagan and Metallica's Live Shit Binge & Purge box set). By the end, all members on stage can't help but scream "you got some fuckin attitude! I Can't believe what you say to me, ya got some attitude!"
By the end of the 2 minute assault, the audience is literally standing in numb amazement, from the Who to the Stones and finally the Misfits???
....what a trip.
Once the feedback abated, DeSalvo and Guetig left the stage after their four song mini set...although it wouldn't be the last time we'd see them.
Next came a darker than hell edition of "Off The Record", a heavy intro in which Jim's hammer ons and pull offs end in thematic anticipatory chords in time with Tom Blankenship's bass (ala "Just One Thing" or "Tropics")....by the time the song kicks into its "feel good" verses and chorus (a wrong note by Jim forcing laughs from Carl and Tom), the song sounds more dirge-like than anything...which really helps turn a more mainstream moment into one more bottomless psychedelic offering.
Having opened Bonnaroo 2005's show, appeared in the upcoming Okonokos DVD and live album and being released as a single with a music video, the pop song was begging for a tune-up from the Jacket, and this show begins "Off The Record's" journey down the rabbit hole, eventually culminating in a middle first / reverse arrangement which has become commonplace now.
The boys were once again "grooving", I don't use that word lightly...they were bouncing around the room in each other's pockets like Little Feat featuring a "two-headed Hayward-Keltner monster" behind the kit: somehow, Pat Hallahan is just one man making that sound.
My Morning Jacket were unassailable on this night...on this stage...
As James' reverb-drenched ES-335 chords landed with brutal intent, Patrick complimented the inferno by executing a myriad of outrageous fills, bending the shape of physics, chopping the rhythm and crafting a divine meal of percussive delight.
Straight from "Off The Record" and into "Lay Low", My Morning Jacket's Jim James gladly took a quick break from the guitar and gave a maximum rendition vocally, hilariously crooning directly to one of the band's prop bears throughout the verses; although the guitar playing was rarely erratic for once, the mistakes / recoveries always made this show an ultimate Jacket cornerstone:
Most MMJ shows go off without a hitch, a seamless conveyor belt of greatness... nary a rough patch, missed cue or flubbed note to be found anywhere...especially post 2011 shows, the Jacket can be "too professional" and slick at times.
However, Bonnaroo 2006 gives fans a peek behind the curtains at the humans who run MMJ, in the process this humanity and "imperfect perfection" becomes so fucking irresistible amidst a career's worth of 873 total official concerts (data from mymorningjacket.com). Until MMJ's 2019 Red Rocks run, Bonnaroo 2006 stood out as one of the band's only moments of ragged 3 hour glory:
As "Lay Low" erupted, Jim and Carl flew around with reckless abandon, out of their bodies and in each other's minds....their fingers and frontal lobes locked in unholy unison...Carl and Jim continued to consummate their 6 string love affair, one song after another.
"How long were they going to keep this going?" A Bonnaroo 2006 attendee told us, "we were just staring and going what are they doing, can they play this long? How many songs do they have?! My friends and I, we were relatively new fans, so we didn't really get all of what they had to play, but we literally heard songs that night which blew our minds into a million pieces and yet we wouldn't hear them again until a few months later when we finally bought The Tennessee Fire album and went "oh! That 'gasoline' song is called 'The Dark', bro!"
Although newer fans were aware of "Wordless Chorus", "Off The Record", "Mahgeetah" or even stuff like "At Dawn" or "Steam Engine", MMJ's debut album wasn't known as well in 2006 (on that year's live album Okonokos, MMJ only included 1 track from their debut). So, when Patrick noticed the enthusiastic audience demanding more during the encore break, he enlisted the group to play a smattering of rockers and a ballad from The Tennessee Fire.
"The Dark" followed by "The Bear", a mistake-laden "I Will Sing You Songs" before Jim brought Guetig and DeSalvo back onstage for a proper salute after "Heartbreakin Man", utilizing their assistance on "Evelyn Is Not Real" and "It's About Twilight Now" (the last three played all consecutively).
Jim even marveled at the Bonnaroo ferris wheel, erroneously / hilariously taking credit for its creation: "We toiled through the night to build that for you guys, please enjoy it!" Before sternly interrupting himself, "but only when we're done!"
At this juncture, MMJ had crossed the threshold: they'd played their greatest and longest show, they'd passed the tastemaker tests, they'd blown every hater or doubter into oblivion...whatever happened next was all just a bonus.
From the labyrinth of Tennessee Fire cuts (Andrew Bird returning for weeping violin on "The Bear"), the rollicking bursts of "The Dark", "Evelyn" and a stupendously maniacal "It's About Twilight Now" brought the house down and gave new fans a look into the wide expanse of their catalog.
"The Bear" was the only pro-shot footage we could see online for the better part of a decade or more, until finally the webcast leaked shortly at the start of 2018....but through the interim, this edition became imprinted on my brain.
"It's About Twilight Now" was aptly placed nearly 2 hours and 35 minutes into the show, Tom beginning to get the 1,000 yard stare, Carl seeing visions as his extreme physicality was now replaced with pure focus; Patrick Hallahan was barely kept fresh by Guetig on percussion and still "Bonham III" persisted on, executing thunderous fills or extensions of the beat blasted into a polyrhythmic deluge; Unruly Jim's wild hair covered his face for 99.9% of the show and at this point you can see his breath pushing the strands away from his mouth as he kept going.
At any point they could've tapped out, yet they scanned the audience for any bored or weary fans and could see only masses of the intrigued.
Before festivals such as Bonnaroo or Coachella became destinations for influencers, Kim Kardashian or Instagram necrophilia, most attendees were pure music fans...imagine that novel idea.
Attending My Morning Jacket's Bonnaroo gig were a cackle of these music scholars and obsessives (Mr. Joseph Rutkowske being one), fans who's knowledge of classic rock's sacred pantheon (or the live history of rock and roll's golden era) turned the late stages of Bonnaroo 2006 into an act of rock and roll daredevilry:
Instituting their own tribal peace dance, My Morning Jacket passed The Stones or Who's longest concerts and were now contending with Zeppelin or the Dead's 3 hour extravaganzas....how much longer could these five men go?
During an era of ADHD-indebted musical ideals, the communal act of holding an audience spellbound for 3+ hours is beyond rarified...it's godly.
Surpassing 28 songs and 2 hours and 50 minutes, MMJ still had a few more aces up their sleeve:
The Band's "It Makes No Difference" took flight as the show hit a further apex, MMJ shooting for infinity at this point.
Although his vocals had been shredded by many testing songs, this cover could've been a moment where Jim might've surrendered to the will of physical breaking points without much of a hit to his reputation. Instead, the group summoned the spirits of their rock and roll forefathers and rose above earthly limitations:
"It Makes No Difference" had always been a dream cover of Jim's and he was going to be damned if he didn't do Rick Danko's vocal performance justice.
Carl's emotive, crystalline leads blitzed every admirer in attendance, the Indiana-native proving why he's the greatest lead guitarist currently living. By the time Jim's huge chords and Carl's dripping leads connect in an extended fury (more than worthy of The Last Waltz), many in attendance confessed to seeing tears drop down their cheeks.
What else could MMJ do?
Instead of "Steam Engine", MMJ brought Guetig and DeSalvo back out for "Phone Went West", a slow burning reggae grind soundtracking Jim's pleading lyrics, his vocal performance setting the standards once again.
Although there's no 2012-2019 era "Celestial Jam", the final 3 minutes swivels on the riff over and over, bludgeoning the 4 chords with solos kept in check, just pure Tosh-stomp, Hallahan looking crazed as he rode the steady, rising beat.
Some nights, it seems Hallahan can go all night...this was one of those occasions, the long-haired chef displaying his boundless stamina (perfect time for a "that's what she said" joke?").
Following the final strains of "Phone", DeSalvo and Guetig left Bonnaroo's stage for a final time, the last occasion My Morning Jacket's two Louisville friends would appear live with the group. DeSalvo and Guetig's guest assistance made Bonnaroo 2006 a unique and zany show, while their musical contributions remained steadfast, energetic and buoyant.
The final song (now 31 tracks into the evening) would be reserved for My Morning Jacket's five members alone, facing the unknown black hole question of "where do you go when you've played 31 songs, countless jams, unbeatable covers and sealed the greatest show of your career?"
Well, if you're My Morning Jacket, you finish things off with a 9 minute "Run Thru," bluesy and born from hell... straight from the first second to last, Jim rocking back and forth with his head bowed, Carl's fingers containing just enough juice to power through the It Still Moves centerpiece.
When things calmed down in the verses, the hollow hell of the song was envisioned through Janowitz's diseased blue lighting, the swirled darkness of the evening threatening to consume audience and band whole...until white shafts of light and Yoshimi strobes exploded through the deep "James Cameron blue" at the climax.
As the midsection began, MMJ grabbed their second or third wind: Tom's bass was fuzzier than ever before, Patrick brutally beating the kit like he was stuck in a ring with Mike Tyson and Bjork (his drum heads were destroyed following the gig); Jim jumped around as if Pete Townsend and Angus Young had claimed his soul for keeps, Bo nearly toppled over his keyboards in frenzied delirium...
...the five men of the Jacket were playing "Run Thru" as if it would be the final time they'd appear at Bonnaroo....
The look in Carl's eyes as he tilts his head back to the throbbing, pulsating midsection...the ecstatic nods of Bo Koster with his eyes glued to the glorified Patrick Hallahan, Tom Blankenship motoring his Fender bass while sporting a violent grimace, Jim spinning and bobbing his ES-335....at that precise second, My Morning Jacket understood just what they'd accomplished that June night....
...words weren't needed...just the clattering salvation of a raving finale before a merciful 1 or 2 days off:
Regardless of their upcoming high stakes, high profile symphony / Tonight Show engagement with the Boston Pops arriving the next weekend, once Jim, Carl, Tom and Bo snapped back into the ending riff, Jim screamed one last anguished blood curdler, Pat's mechanical limbs gutting through each bar, the guitars and bass destroying the chords before the last cacophony rang out and suddenly, without any warning, without a traditional final chord or a Zach Galifinakis cameo, My Morning Jacket exited stage left through the black curtain and were off into the dewey, mercurial Tennessee midnight.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
COPYRIGHT 2020 UNINTERRUPTED WRITINGS INC LLC
You can dig far and wide for a better set list, you'll probably never find one like this...you could look everywhere for a more intense performance, you can claim there are smoother nights (I've even heard some prudes call this appearance "unprofessional" and "sloppy" for the Jacket's ragged 3rd set approach).
Yet, when even the most uptight Jacket fan considers the energy, brilliance, unpredictability or the mesmeric jams and overall throwback performance My Morning Jacket sustained for over 3 hours, Bonnaroo 2006's Zoso-esque leanings cannot be beaten...except by one show. The #1 Jacket Show of All Time coming soon!!!
BEST PERFORMANCE: "A Quick One (While He's Away)", "Dondante", "It Makes No Difference", "It Beats 4 U" with Andrew Bird, "Older Guys" > "Head Held High", "Run Thru", "Lovin Cup" > "Easy Morning Rebel", high octane "Dancefloors", "The Bear", "It's About Twilight Now", "Off The Record"
UNIQUE ODDITY: Playing with ex Jacket drummer KC Guetig and friend Mike De Salvo on 7 tracks. The "When You Wish Upon a Star" intro tape complete with Jim holding a lamp, Andrew Bird's performances on "It Beats 4 U", "Lowdown", "Gideon" and "The Bear". Combining "Lovin Cup" with the end jam of "Easy Morning Rebel", the one and only time MMJ ever attempted the configuration (that's a shame!). "Older Guys" > "Head Held High" only performed twice together all time by the Jacket, "Head Held High" played separately for a third time during the encores of the Terminal 5 run). Debuts of "A Quick One (While He's Away)", "Attitude" & "Lovin Cup".
BLACK LIVES MATTER
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
All Writings Copyright 2020 Uninterrupted Writings Inc LLC