My Morning Jacket @ Memorial Coliseum 4.17.11

During a sublimely transcendent moment of “Dondante” in My Morning Jacket’s Lexington show, I inhaled strongly and sucked a cough drop quickly into my throat. In the instant I thought “Can I breathe?” I hadn’t recovered enough to really know the answer. Assuming the worst, I realized that — should I have to die before my time — you could do a lot worse than to go out at a My Morning Jacket concert.

Now, all this happened in the time it takes to blink twice — so I really didn’t move or react. But it was a very weird moment that really drove home just how good My Morning Jacket are live. If I’d feared for my life at most any other band I’d imagine my mind would be racing with thoughts of “This is how I die? At a buzz band showcase at SXSW??” But nope. This is a band I’ll stand with forever; a band I’ll live and die with — but thankfully not for a while on that last one.

Let me start by saying that I had to leave this show early. I had to make a PM drive to West Virginia to attend a funeral, so I checked out just after the band played a song or two after Ben Sollee joined them to play “Wonderful.” Had I stayed for the full show, I’m fairly confident that I could easily call this the second best time I’ve seen My Morning Jacket. The first will most likely forever be late night Bonnaroo 2006. Their three hour set in the rain made my first time seeing MMJ absolutely incredible. But this was as good as a coverless present-day set of theirs probably gets.

Durin ghte show a lot of ideas ran through my head about how Jim must feel to be back in Lexington. A few songs in and I realized that everything I figured he must be thinking was actually somehow what I would think if I was in his situation. He lived in Lexington for a bit in college and spoke a few times about it. He shared the story about being here for UK’s championship basketball loss and victory in 97/98 (“No matter what, you fucking rioted”) and a bit of well aimed local college pandoring: “God bless the Euclid Avenue Kroger!” A good deal of My Morning Jacket’s formation happened in UK’s Holmes Hall. And though it seems Lexington didn’t do much to support MMJ in the early years, he clearly holds no grudge. Or if he does, he didn’t let it get in the way of an incredible show and some cheerful between-song banter.

What made this show extra special was the return of the opener Ben Sollee. I’m generally a fan of opener collaboration — this one especially so. Ben came out to play cello three times, the best of which was his contribution to “Wonderful.” That track has long been played live by MMJ, but it’s finally going to appear on the upcoming record Circuital featuring Ben on cello. It was fantastic. I remember hearing Ben’s cello on a few My Morning Jacket songs when he toured with Jim and Daniel Martin Moore, but this takes that to a completely new level. My only wish is that the cello had been turned up a bit — kinda hard to fight its way out from a drum kit and several distorted guitars.

The only other really noteworthy inclusion was the Tennessee Fire track “Butch Cassidy,” which Jim talked a bit about. He said he wrote that song in Holmes Hall after getting off work at Fazolis. Giant cheers from the crowd, many of whom no doubt get off work from crappy jobs and go back to tiny dorms on that same street. It didn’t come across as an intentionally inspiring thing, but to me it was. To any aspiring songwriters in the auditorium, that story would have come across as a godsend of encouragement. And I hope it did. Only I hope the next superstar to come out of UK put in their time in Kirwan tower — that way I’ll have a reason to smile.

Lots more photos after the break.

10 thoughts on “My Morning Jacket @ Memorial Coliseum 4.17.11”

  1. They ended on one big holiday. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crowd get so excited about a song. A small mosh pit opened up which I was pushed into

  2. I love and hate reading this post. I had a ticket to the show, and had to sell it due to the fact that my school is in Ohio and the concert was on a Sunday night in Kentucky (I’m a Louisville native). Thought I would be able to swing it, but wasn’t able to. I’m glad to hear that it was an incredible concert, but also upset that I missed yet another so-happy-I-could-die Jacket experience.

  3. can someone explain the $50 ticket price to me? i’m a huge mmj fan and understand they have overhead to cover but damn…would have loved to gone to the gig but $50 for an arena (indoor coliseum) show? move it to the opera house for that price….or make it a $25 club show?

    i guess student tickets were priced at $25 or so, alas, my college days are long since gone.

    oh well

  4. DD: I’m with ya. I did hear that UK had to pay festival price to book MMJ, which is a very high number. Still, though I only know one or two people who bought student tix. Smarter to release general public tickets later than raise the price so sharply…

  5. I really think the notion that ‘Lexington wasn’t supportive of MMJ’ back in the day is unfair. I saw Month of Sundays (Jim James’ previous band) 3 times in Lexington in the late 90s. I don’t recall MMJ playing out yet at that point.

    MOS was loud and bombastic, very much in the vein of the MMJ big-riff arena rock stuff. The weirdest place I saw them was a lab/apartment adjacent to the Biological Sciences bldg. at UK. That was with Winter Death Club. (other members of MMJ)

    They also played at Yat’s. It was the first show ever at Yat’s and they shared the bill with Pontius Co-Pilot and a couple others.

    I remember thinking that this dude’s vocals soar, even through the crappy PA at Yat’s. Their bass player was 30min. late to the show and they only got to play 3-4 songs. James was pissed.

    The 3rd show was with my buds Tim at the 37 Center, another Ross Compton venue (he booked Yat’s too). Not much of a venue, really. It was a tiny storage shed off Manchester.

    MOS was a beast live. When I first heard the early MMJ stuff, I was blown away by how delicate and non-rock it was. Makes sense now to learn that he was locked away in Holmes Hall being all introspective and stuff.

    Just thought I would fill in a few blanks.

  6. J: thanks for the info! I got here in 2004, so I’m really just going based on what I’ve been told by lifelong Lexingtonians. Good to know that not everyone was indifferent back then!

  7. Personally, I find it shocking that Lexington was largely indifferent to local talent. I jest. That is Lexington’s habit. She is a fickle mistress.

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