Throughout the past decade-and-a-half, My Morning Jacket has confidently claimed a progressive indie rock niche that falls somewhere in between the spacey sounds of The Flaming Lips, the alternative country-splashed Wilco and the lengthy, rarely repeating concert philosophy of The Grateful Dead, all while managing to generate an eclecticness all its own. During a recent three night stand at the venerable Chicago Theatre, the Louisville-bred band particularly latched on to that latter ethos by never repeating anything throughout a residency that yielded a more than generous 67 song spread.
And given the subsequent box office bonanza for all three nights, chances are this unconventional formula will continue, in which case it would be best to snag tickets to every single show for full assurance that no key component of the groundbreaking group’s catalogue will be missed.
Although the Jim James-led troupe mixed singles and deep cuts during every engagement, a scan of all three set lists suggested that Thursday’s grand finale may have been the best balance overall, even if it wasn’t completely perfect. Armed with a wall of honeycomb lights and a masterful sense of variety just as likely to get fans dancing, tripping or chilling, MMJ kept everyone guessing from the melodic jangles of “Mahgeetah” through the spellbinding rhythms of “One Big Holiday” two-and-a-half hours later.
In between, the energy surged during the chunky psychedelia of “Lay Low,” guitarist Carl Broemel’s ethereal “Carried Away” and the assertive groove rocker “Holdin’ On To Black Metal,” but there were also periodic lulls (“Thin Line,” “Where To Begin”) that probably wouldn’t have made the cut during a traditional tour date. Naturally, die-hards appeared blown away by such unpredictability, though less fervent followers went home without hearing more common favorites (such as “I’m Amazed,” “Golden,” “Outta My System,” “Wordless Chorus” and “Evil Urges”).
Even so, no one could disconnect from the full-throttled explosiveness of the thumping “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2” (which took a visually arresting card from Pink Floyd’s playbook), the robotic synth rocker “Victory Dance” and the rallying resplendence of “Gideon.” And given the subsequent box office bonanza for all three nights, chances are this unconventional formula will continue, in which case it would be best to snag tickets to every single show for full assurance that no key component of the groundbreaking group’s catalogue will be missed.