Wednesday, April 02, 2008

It Beats 4 U

concert review: My Morning Jacket @ Berkeley Church (Toronto, Ontario), March 31, 2008

Music program Beautiful Noise commenced a week of tapings for its new season this past Monday at Berkeley Church with a show by Louisville, Kentucky band My Morning Jacket. They're a band I've been aware for a while now who I'm aware have their share of fervent fans and while I'd sample their album "Z" a few years ago on the recommendation of a friend, it was only a few months ago I actually got around to buying it. Securing a spot on the guest list for the show, I took this as an opportunity to check out what the fuss was all about.

Before I continue, I must mention the RSVP fiasco which occurred outside. There were a bunch of us(maybe 30 or so) who didn't make it in right away because apparently there was an overbooking of RSVP's which of course didn't go over well given that the understanding was that our RSVP e-mail confirmation was suppose to secure our spot. Of course, phrases like "over-capacity" and "fire-marshall" were overheard. But as luck would have it, I did make it in finally(but only after My Morning Jacket's set began) as they allowed about 20 more people in. (According to The Panic Manual, he and about 8 more people left standing outside at the time were eventually let in by a kind soul.)

As was expected, it was a packed house and us last-minuters were directed to watch from the balcony which would have been great had the whole balcony area been open. The one side of the balcony that was available of course had people along the entire length of the railing which meant I had to basically settle on trying to look over people's heads(but with not much success). Part of the live experience for me is the visual element and being unable to see the stage(except for a few glimpses) was a definite detractor to my enjoyment. However, the acoustics were glorious, so there was not much else to do but settle back, have a drink and enjoy. From the time I got in to before halfway through the show, I spent my time in the balcony soaking up the songs which to me encompassed some of the best elements of rock music like extended jams and guitar solos, rock music that could be anthemic one time, smooth like a summer breeze another, and displaying a spacey, cosmic beauty the next. I was particularly enamored with the reverb-soaked melodic vocals of Jim James of which the venue's acoustics took full advantage of.

About halfway through the set I decided to make my way to the first floor and I was pleasantly surprised that they were no longer blocking access and I was able to get in. It was a tenfold improvement from the balcony and I finally was able to see most of the stage and the band. With the stage drenched in hues of blue and green and probably many other colours, the band was most dynamic during their anthemic rock numbers, at one point vocalist Jim James covering his sweat-soaked head in what seemed to be a towel or t-shirt as he continued to sing to the audience with blissful passion. The band were also adept at performing quieter, desolate numbers and the ironic thing is that, given now that I was finally able to see the band, I almost felt like closing my eyes and soaking it all in.

More reviews of the show over at Chromewaves and The Panic Manual.

ps. I hope there aren't any RSVP foul-ups when I go to the Beautiful Noise taping at Berkeley Church tomorrow featuring The Constantines and Ted Leo. I'll be showing up early, that's for sure.

MySpace: My Morning Jacket

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