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Review and photos by Gypsy DaveyMy Morning Jacket's front man Jim James has stated in past interviews that he intends to paint murals across America, depicting the artwork used on the cover of their 7th studio release The Waterfall. Tonight however, Milwaukee, and those filling the sold out opener of a two-night stint at The Riverside will have to settle for a projected mural faintly visible across a curtain that ran the length of the stage. Shielded from the crowd, the band settled in and geared up to open their evening's set list.
The synth trill of The Waterfall's "Believe (Nobody Knows)," cascaded over the stage, breaking through the white noise din of the crowd as Jim James' careful articulation sang the lyric "Roll the dice & sail the ship and all the doors will open, on down the line." Still masked behind the curtain, the band built upon the first verse leading up to the crescendo of the chorus, where the crowd entered in song repeating "Believe, Believe, Believe....BELIEVE! And together in harmony singing the last line "Nobody Knows For Sure," at which point the curtain fell, the lights filled the venue, and the audience erupted, as My Morning Jacket finally made themselves present. The song set the show up in dramatic fashion, and should serve them well as a staple opener in the foreseeable future.
Their new album was recorded in Stinson Beach, Calif., and is infused with the tranquility in which the band members were immersed. The set list felt like an extension of their time there, meandered the back tributaries of their canon on a pace reflective of their current state of mind, and in complementary tone to the laid back vibe of The Waterfall. Proceeding with the still fresh sounds of "Circuital" they then slid into Evil Urges' "I'm Amazed," and Z's "Wordless Chorus," and back into the title cut from Urges, before coming full circle to Waterfall's "Like A River," which keyboardist Bo Koster states is the song that best captures their time spent recording in Stinson. They continued to churn the waters of their history playing one of the more exhilarating sets I've seen. The Waterfall's "Tropics (Erase Traces)," into "Only Memories Remain" were two clear standouts from the first set. Carl Broemel and Jim James' reserved and delicate guitar work on "O.M.R.," was simply gorgeous! James strapped with his hollow-bodied sunburst Gibson, swapping lead riffs with Carl, as Koster explored the keys expanding on the tracks length, turning it into a jam session that segued into It Still Moves' "I Will Sing You Songs." The band played continuously until the encore break, showing some serious stamina.
With only a brief two-minute break, Jim and band took the stage to fill out the remainder of the evening's lineup. He commented on the "legendary treatment," the "unbelievable treatment" the band received from the venue, stating that they "treat you like you are at home, when you're away from home." Then, alone on the stage under a solo spot, strapped with an acoustic guitar Jim rendered "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)," from Circuital, before building the deluge to come with the anticipated "Victory Dance," into the finale of "One Big Holiday." In that moment we awoke among the smoke and mirrors…our minds were opened, and we BELIEVE!
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