My Morning Jacket’s show on Friday couldn’t have been a bigger celebration of local flavor if you’d had Will Oldham riding around piggy back on David Pajo. The biggest band to come out of Kentucky was backed by the Louisville Youth Symphony Orchestra at a hometown show in the brand-new arena built by a company based in the same city. It was a Louisville sandwich six layers deep — and it was delicious.
Having seen My Morning Jacket a few times now, I’ve got to seriously wonder if they aren’t the best band in America. The Roots might be a little tighter and ready to go with less practice, but they don’t exactly have a “One Big Holiday” or “Gideon” under their belt. And while I’m convinced there’s no better place to see MMJ than at a late night show at Bonnaroo, this symphony-backed show was a close second.
With the band fresh off their five-night stay in New York playing the entirety each of their studio albums, it was really anyone’s guess what the setlist would look like. But with about 25 highly recognizable hits to their name, there really wasn’t that much wiggle room in the setlist. here) The only omission in my opinion was my favorite, “Run Thru,” but they did a tease of the ending tacked on to “Smoking from Shootin.” That and the inclusion of “The Way He Sings” made up for it.
So about two hours in and we’ve had a lovely show with great backing from the orchestra (which you could often not hear, but that’s not the point) — how do you top it? Why with costumes and an insane encore, of course! During the encore break, someone came out dressed up as a chicken. I elbowed my friend and said “pretty gutsy to come in a chicken suit to the KFC arena.” Then, as if to one-up my joke, Jim James came out fully dressed as Col. Sanders. He and the chicken passed a heart around and then he grabbed a guitar and sang incredible versions of “Bermuda Highway” and “Librarian.” Let me also pause for a second and say that “Librarian” has definitely become a huge fan favorite. I thought it was just one that I enjoyed, but the crowd went nuts when he started into it.
After those two solo songs, the entire band came out dressed as Col Sanders. We got what few megahits were left, followed by a cover of “Move On Up” and a great performance of — you guessed it — “One Big Holiday” to close. For the last song, the band brought out the giant puppet walkers who had been in the lobby earlier. It made the stage a bit crowded, but was a really joyous way to end it all.
Lots more photos after the break