Last Night: My Morning Jacket at McCaw Hall

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Photos by Chris Kornelis.

My Morning Jacket

When: Sunday, Sept. 28

Where: McCaw Hall

The Reverend Jimmy James took his place behind the pulpit at the Temple of the Fine Arts (McCaw Hall) Sunday evening as the faithful eagerly gathered for his 150-minute message. In his sermon, James told the congregation that "Religion should appeal to the hearts of the young" (Gideon), "I'm amazed at your wrong devotion" (I'm Amazed), and "This is a classy place. But, don't be afraid do be too classy." Ah, yes, the class of McCaw Hall, the same place you come for the Nutcracker each December. No Sugar Plumb Fairy Sunday night, but there were extinguished roaches in the urinals. Classy.

After a teaser set of 50 minutes at Pemberton Fest, I've been jonesing for the real thing. MMJ's famous for their live shows, and for good reason. Mr. James sings songs like "Off the Record" kinda like you do in your car: full-throated, uninhibited, eyes closed (but, you know, in key). And his supporting cast plays like they've just hit the rock 'n' roll jackpot (and haven't they?). Though they'll probably never shake the indie rock tag, Sunday's performances of staples like "Dancefloors" and "One Big Holiday" demonstrated the band's penchant for hard rock, while "Dondante," perhaps the highlight of the evening, left no question to the the band's devotion to the extended jam.

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I must admit, however, that the extent to which James leaned on pre-recorded vocal support on songs like "Wordless Chorus," "Highly Suspicious," and "Anytime," was both curious and a little suspicious. The band clearly has the musicianship to cover the backup vocals, as was typically the case, or to at least work around where they could not lend some high-octave help. Oh, well. He may not be perfect, but the man can preach.

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