Here is the song list from last night's show and some very brief thoughts below. [Friday update: added a few good videos, too]
My Morning Jacket
Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millenium Park, Chiago 8/22/12
August 24, 2012
At Dawn, Circuital, Holding On To Black Metal, Off the Record, War Begun, Outta My System, Mahgeetah, Rocket Man, Steam Engine, Lay Low, Run Thru, Gideon
I Will Be There When You Die, Wonderful*, Victory Dance, Touch Me I'm About To Scream Part 1, Wordless Chorus, Touch Me I'm About To Scream Part 2, Anytime, One Big Holiday
*with Ben Bridwell from Band Of Horses
The Experience: My first visit to the Pritzker Pavilion for a music event. The environment was beyond awesome -- combining the best of scenery (nestled in the shadow's of Chicago's magnificent skyline and offering a park-like lush green lawn), art (the iconic and futuristic Gehry designed stage), and technology (beams that traverse the main lawn area with at least 3 dozen pairs of high quality speakers mounted to them) in one package. An appreciative Jim James gushed on about the city and the setup during the encore. The sound was beyond reproach, and showcased MMJ's more sonically interesting tunes ("Run Thru" and "Circuital" were standouts) quite well.
But you take the band with the good, and regrettably, seats on the lawn offered impeccable sound but pretty much zero view of anything except for the top of the light show. Further, this was probably among the top draws that this venue -- which typically hosts folk, jazz, world music and other more eclectic fare as free shows -- has ever seen. Lines for beer and bathrooms were punishing long.
Band Of Horses: Ben Bridwell's voice was front and center for this set. Crazy, but the set somehow seemed mellower than their last Chicago show, but band did get downright nasty on occasion -- even in the full daylight. Ben also stepped forward and contributed vocally during "Wonderful" during the MMJ set. This was a fine pairing with the headliners.
My Morning Jacket: Touring behind the concept of the fan-suggestion-based "Spontaneous Curation Series", and prompting dispatches from the road that told a tale of intriguing covers and beefy rarity filled sets, expectations were tilted high for this performance at a standout venue. The band didn't disappoint musically, locking in as usual on cuts from their entire catalog. However, except for a tender cover of Elton John's "Rocket Man" which began with just James on acoustic, they delivered a set that leaned heavily on hits, right through the rousing final encore song of "One Big Holiday".
That said, the 2 hour 5 minute, all-inclusive set time (wrapped up by 10:05) seemed to fall distractingly short compared to recent sets -- which of course is not a problem if you're not "playing along at home"... but could have rubbed the superfans wrong. One marked improvement that the band has worked on since I've last seen them was providing the set with flow -- they seemed to be conscious of limiting dead time between songs, even running a few songs together as mini suites (the two "Touch Me"s sandwiching "Wordless Chorus" in the encore was the best example) , keeping heads in the game and feet moving.
One More Note... The Crowd: By the end of the BoH set and the beginning of the MMJ set, the venue was nearly busting at the seems (maybe 9000 people), with ticketless onlookers to the sold out show peering over the fences from the adjacent park. An hour into the MMJ set, I would say 40% of the crowd had packed up and gone home. Maybe this was a weeknight "after-work" crowd. Maybe there was a "see and be seen" element to it. In any case, I was surprised by the draw, so it was not shocking to see folks head for the exits by 9:00. This is great music by a band at the top of their game in a one-of-a-kind setting. I guess it's more important for some folks to be able to say they were there, than to actually enjoy the whole thing.
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One Big Holiday:
Wonderful with Ben Bridwell