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Chock full of potential

My Morning Jacket
Riverside Theater
Milwaukee, WI
June 16, 2011
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Story by Brett Taylor
Photos by Gypsy Davey

"I can see potential..." is a line from "Victory Dance" the opening number from My Morning Jacket's latest album Circuital. The band opened their show Thursday night at the Riverside Theater with the same song backed by nothing but the looming green eyeball that also graces the album's cover. Potential is in no short order, as the band has shown, as they have ridden into the new decade as one of the finest live rock bands of the day.

After taking a needed break after the release of 2008's Evil Urges the road warriors have returned as the darling of the festival and live circuit once again. The rejuvenated band illuminated the Riverside fresh from the stages of the Bonneroo festival in Tennessee, which has become a mecca for the faithful of the band.

Fans lucky enough to see one of the first theatre shows of the "Circuital" tour were treated to a band determined to take the success of their career to the next level. Lead vocalist Jim James danced and moshed like a caged animal in knee high fur boots and his now familiar black cape, adding some interesting visual imagery to accompany the intense music and lyrics. For every visual movement that James provided, the Kentucky quintet kept up with him step for step offering both serene folk like moments as well as full out psychedelic jams that twisted and turned always landing at the right moment.

After opening with the first three songs from the new record, the band then delved into more of their familiar canon including "Off the Record," "Gideon," and the fan favorite "Run Thru." Guitarist Carl Broemel added both flash and panache, along with some major subtlety to his tone. Broemel traded licks with James when appropriate and showed major restraint to allow for Bo Koster to flourish with keyboard strokes. Koster adds a depth of solidarity to the band that holds things together much like Richard Wright of Pink Floyd. Not enough positive can be said regarding the rhythm section of Tom Blankenship and Patrick Hallahan. "Two Tone" Tommy lays into the bass with a furious finger picking style that reminded me of Cliff Burton combined with John Entwistle. The throw-back Hallahan plays with the "tight but loose" sentimentality of so many of the classic drummers of the seventies that the modern era has forgotten with the utilization of pro-tools and click tracks which have sterilized modern music.

Obviously the band enjoys playing at the Riverside as James gushed about the treatment of the band and the venue's Kubrickesque interior. All of Milwaukee can hope that this relationship continues and brings this band chock full of potential back to delight us again and again.

Milwaukee Setlist:
1. Victory Dance
2. Circuital
3. The Day Is Coming
4. Wordless Chorus
5. Off The Record
6. Gideon
7. The Way That He Sings
8. Heartbreakin Man
9. Wonderful (The Way I Feel)
10. Outta My System
11. First Light
12. Lay Low
13. Old September Blues
14. Slow Slow Tune
15. Steam Engine
16. Movin Away
17. You Wanna Freak Out
18. What A Wonderful Man
19. Holdin On To Black Metal
20. Mahgeetah


21. Dondante
22. Smokin From Shootin
23. (end of) Run Thru
24. Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt. 2
25. One Big Holiday

Related articles:

My Morning Jacket (Voodoo Music Experience 2010) - Festival review - New Orleans, LA - October 2010
My Morning Jacket - Concert review - Chicago, IL - December 2008
My Morning Jacket - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - October 2008
My Morning Jacket - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - October 2006

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My Morning Jacket My Morning Jacket
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