And that Ever Existed! As I playfully enter the world of writer, I thought I might try my hand at a rock ‘n’ roll concert reviewer, and no better way to start than with my favorite concert and album rock ‘n’ roll band of all time, Louisville, Kentucky’s own, My Morning Jacket.
I have always enjoyed watching live music and attending concerts, but as I have gotten on in years, I sometimes find the whole process of watching a show at a large venue exhausting and somewhat more work than enjoyment, for the price.
This past weekend, my wife and I decided to redeem ourselves from last year’s late show-up and poor seats and pretend we were 25 year old’s by arriving at Saturday’s show at Red Rock’s Amphitheater early, when the parking lot opened, skipping tailgating so we could score good seats up front in the general admission area close to the stage. As the early evening drug on, I admit I had a couple of moments where I was questioning this decision as two opening acts and a few hours of general admission seat protecting ensued. Eight and a half hours later, after one o’clock in the morning, ears bleeding, legs exhausted, voices scratchy, and wallets empty, we were feeling every bit our age. We were also still buzzing from having just witnessed the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of our lifetime doing what they do best, and in their glorious prime! My Morning Jacket rocked a full house two nights in a row, in our home town, in one of the most famous concert venues in the world, and they don’t even have a hit song or hit album. And they never have. I was reminded why we love music, art, and people that have talent we can only dream of!
This isn’t some hippie jam band with a bunch of burnt out space cadets fans, or some techno beat Latin-fusion that only sounds right if you are 19 and have a glow-in-the-dark pacifier in your mouth. This is concert rock ‘n’ roll in its purest form. The unbelievable My Morning Jacket was tight as hell, and the show was worth every penny. You hear all the time that, “music isn’t what it used to be” and that “rock ‘n’ roll is dead”. I don’t believe a word of it.
I am not going to get deep into a typical technical review including set lists and memorable songs. Most of you have never heard of this band anyway. They get no radio airtime whatsoever and I am relatively certain they will not be guest coaches on American Idol any time soon. I seriously, doubt that this will change or ever be a band priority for MMJ, thankfully!
The opening acts, Band of Horses and Trombone Shorty, did the dutiful act of providing entertainment and generating some great spark before and during the show. No disrespect to Band of Horses, this group actually does, deservedly, get some radio airtime and they did skillfully play a few catchy tunes and have some loyal fans in the crowd. But make no mistake about it, from the moment that Jim James’s hypnotic voice cracked the cool mountain air in the beginning of My Morning Jacket’s three-plus hour set, no one in the entire amphitheater was even remotely confused about who was headlining and why.
This is no fancy show. No rotating video screen or laser lights extravaganza. No elaborate choreography, crazy costumes, or funny band-crowd banter. Nope. Just a few flashing lights, a few clouds of smoke billowing from both on the stage and from the crowd, a whole lot of hair, and a band that plays music that cuts right through your soul and transcends the time and space of the moment. You can feel it in your shirt; you can feel it in your heart. You are not watching a concert or listening to music, you are part of a shared energy, a movement and electricity that is one hundred percent, My Morning Jacket, and like nothing else.
I have heard the debate over and over in bars and at parties. What was the best concert in the history of the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado? I am thankful to have had the opportunity to see a few memorable shows there personally. I hear legitimate argument and claims for Hendrix in ’68? The Beatles in ’64? What about U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky in ‘83? Some say Phish, the Dead, or Widespread.
Nope, I saw the best concert in the history of Red Rocks last Saturday night, and you haven’t even heard of the band. Truly One Big Holliday! Can’t wait for next year when I get to see My Morning Jacket do the best show in the history of Red Rocks – again. I have absolutely no doubt they will, and I consider myself truly lucky to live in the time and place where I have the opportunity to witness it first-hand!