Tuesday, 26 June 2012

My Morning Jacket - 19 June 2012, Tivoli Utrecht

Is that a morning jacket, or actually a cape?

Have you been told of a million different ideas for how to get over jet lag? I sure have, but I am not sure that I ever truly believed any of them, that is until I stumbled across the idea of seeing a band (in this case My Morning Jacket) that I love, having a couple of beers with a good mate and then passing out to sleep.

Having recently returned from a trip to the US, I was suffering from the usual jet lag issues. So on the second day back I planned to head down to Utrecht and watch MMJ play. Most other bands I think I would have given away the idea of feeling like crap and then jumping on a train and heading out of town, but these guys had been so impressive last time, making my top 5 live acts of 2011 (see here), that this “jet lag issue ” became non negotiable. It just had to be done, time to toughen up princess and go and see a gig. I mean I have heard that rock and roll can save your mortal soul, but could it save me from jet lag?

As we bought our first beers for the evening at the Tivoli I realised that that both JP and I had not discussed what, if any expectations we were carrying in to the show. I think this is because we really didn’t want to build it up and be disappointed. Last year both of us had been blown away by MMJ live, and had got tickets to this show soon as we could. Tickets weren’t cheap either, but that didn’t stop us, but what was evident early on, unlike last time this gig was not going to be a sell out and would that impact this show at all?

Looking back at the two gigs, it is funny that the few songs that the band opened with last time is what they ended this concert with. This gave the vibe of the gig a very different feel from last time. That being said there were all the usual suspects and props on stage and all were used to full capacity.

Jim James strolled on stage draped in a cape, and holding his golden Chinese “lucky” cat statue. I mean how else did I expect this gig to start? This is pretty much how the last gig finished back late last year (except he sang to the cat, I’ll be home for Christmas), this time however he kicked off the show with “ Into the woods” ,what else would you sing to a cat? It’s not the easiest number for Jim to hit all the notes to straight off the bat, but it wafted the crowed into the gig. From here on in the concert got progressively more and more rock and roll based, with the odd quieter number thrown in for good measure.

My initial feeling from the opening tracks was that the show had not quite started like I had wanted, I mean last time I had seen them JP had thought that they may have been the loudest band he had ever heard and it was reel hard rock from the moment they stepped on stage. I also thought that Jim’s voice wasn’t quite on the money yet, and as we stood behind the mixing desk we watch a very talented music technician work every bit as hard as the band and for that reason I thought the bands sounds was really good overall on the night.

So not only is there a lead singer who has a massive mop of hair, is the size of a grizzly bear and who wears a cape, but the drummer is every bit as impressive in stature and music ability. Patrick Hallahan on drums resembles a massive man probably about the size of Chewbacca and who is not afraid to monster the drum kit, in fact I think he really likes it that way. He beat each drum within an inch of their lives and certainly didn’t leave anything in the tank. His explosive power and sometime soft hands were a sight to behold. The rest of the band held up their end of the bargain sufficiently, but none have the stage presence of Jim or Patrick. They can strike a rock pose and they can all rock out, and that’s what makes this band work so well together.

I am not going to lie to you, the first time you see Jim pull his cape in front of his face I laughed out loud, but it is all part of the show and somehow it fits right into the show, yes it is very theatrical and it seems to work for them.

By the time the band hit “Victory Dance” I was back 100% on board and any questions that I had been quietly raising about the performance not being up to scratch had been squashed, they were now delivering every bit as good as last time.

So in summary, this show had a man the size of a bear wearing a cape, another man resembling Chewbacca beating some drums, a Chinese lucky cat statue, real rock and roll being played at thunderous levels, lots of people raising devil horns and beers in appreciation. Not much wrong with that list if you ask me. Next weekend at the Rock Werchter festival I get the chance to see MMJ again, I will make sure my friends see them too, they truly give a spectacular live performance.

Jet lag never seemed so bad when you walk out of an energetic rock gig having had some beers and you have seen one of your favourite live acts perform, bring on the next round of jet lag I say.


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