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Concert Reviews:
My Morning Jacket zips it up tight at Meadow Brook
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

ROCHESTER HILLS -- My Morning Jacket was more than a third of the way into its long, pounding performance Tuesday night, Aug. 15, at the Meadow Brook Music Festival when frontman Jim James first spoke to the crowd.

He didn't have much to say -- just a welcome to "a beautiful place...perfect temperature, perfect feeling." And while the Louisville quintet wasn't necessarily perfect during its two and a half hours onstage, its career-spanning 23-song set was a firm reminder of why it's one of America's most potent live rock acts.

Overcoming an awful early-show sound mix that buried James' vocals and other nuances during songs such as "The Way That He Sing" (the opener chosen by fan club members as part of the group's Spontaneous Curation Series), "Circuital," "Evil Urges" and "What a Wonderful Man," MMJ actually hit stride first with gentler fare such as "I Think I'm Going to Hell, "Librarian" and "Golden." The sonics seemed ironed out as the group cranked up again on the soulful "It Beats 4 U," and tight renditions of the thumping "Holdin' on to Black Metal," the poppy "Outta My System," "Wordless Chorus" and "Highly Suspicious" nicely set up epic treatments of "Touch Me I'm Gong to Scream Pt. 2," "Run Thru" and "Mahgeetah," with James and Carl Broemel going to town as a guitar tandem.

The encores, chosen from fan selections, were a mixed bunch, though the slow-starting "Steam Engine" -- before which James spoke of "the respect we have for the music that came out of Detroit and the surrounding areas" -- grew into a fierce, cosmic trip and a cover of George Harrison's "Isn't It a Pity" was bolstered by the addition of Ben Bridwell from opening act Band of Horses." "Phone Went West" and "One Big Holiday," meanwhile, closed things out with epic, feedback-drenched energy -- the former even sporting light references to Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" and Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle."

Bridwell and Band of Horses, meanwhile, kept to their own repertoire during their 12-song, hour-long set. The Seattle group offered a preview of its upcoming (Sept. 18) "Mirage Rock" with the blues-tinged "Dumpster World," but it was established favorites such as "Laredo," "Ode to LRC," "Monsters," the "pretty intelligent" "Weed Party" and "No One's Gonna Love You" -- which Bridwell dedicated to Meadow Brook's wooden pavilion roof, " 'cause it looks so cool" -- that fully engaged the crowd of youthful, post-Grateful Dead jam band enthusiasts.

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