Live Review

My Morning Jacket, Manchester Academy 2

Towel-hooded singer Jim James hits his vocals with hammer-like precision.

On Tuesday night, My Morning Jacket played Jools with a mystic costumed tribe of backing singers that gave Florence’s fairy machine a run for their money. Come Sunday night, My Morning Jacket arrive in Manchester without the trimmings but with all the colour and epic musical quality still very much on display.

They open their set as they mean to continue with a double-cut from their latest album ‘Circuital’ - ‘Victory Dance’ (with the air of impending doom of the War Of The Worlds Soundtrack) and the pomp apocalyptic romance of ‘First Light’, which boldly walks the sonic tightrope between bright ‘n’ breezy and art rock swagger

It is the contrasting shades of light and dark in their catalogue that make MMJ’s show the live spectacle that it is. Whilst songs like ‘Wonderful’ and ‘Slow Slow Tune’ boast a Southern-guitar flavour and spirituality that stays true to the band’s Kentucky roots, a moment like ‘I’m Amazed’ is more mid-90s college rock than anything.

The set takes a bigger turn to the left when it goes off on some psychedelic ‘Black Holes & Revelations’-like tangent with the subliminal beats and omni-chordal bleeps of ‘Touch Me I’m Going’ to ‘Scream Part II’, which mesmerises with a beautifully succumbing vocal and the introduction of space age instruments before the big fuzzy soul-jazz freak out of the genre hopping ‘Holdin’ On’ to ‘Black Metal’.

The band return for a four song encore which climaxes with the chaotic hard-rocking ‘One Big Holiday’, with towel-hooded singer Jim James hitting his vocals with hammer-like precision and the whole band going for plenty of 80s headbanging without a trace of hairspray in sight.

When asked to break down what makes a good band a good live band, our serotonin levels tend to speak greater volumes than any critical analysis ever can. But if sheer musical energy, variety and showmanship are a few of the key ingredients needed to make a crowd go wild with excitement, My Morning Jacket should find themselves proudly sporting music’s Michelin star.

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