With my jumper thoroughly soaked, twilight approaching and my nose suffering from a surprising case of sunburn, I had been plunged into the epitome of a British Summer Festival. My arms clutched onto the rail as I waited for Sunday Night’s Big Tent headliners, My Morning Jacket.
Modern music can be ostracising for an act that are so unbelievably genuine in what they do. My Morning Jacket aren’t “cool”, and neither is Jim James as chiseled and pretty as Seth McFarlen’s illustrations would have you believe, but they are a band who are completely free of pretense. They live by the mantra carpe diem, make the music they want and no matter the occasion, play like every performance could be their last. So when Jim James and the rest of the guys graced the stage beaming with smiles, it was indeed no wonder that everybody reciprocated with an eruption of cheers, the night had truly begun.
Opener Circuital played and hit us like a wave. Jim James’ stunning vocal performances are so overwhelming that you’re left with a sense of guilt so strong that it stops you from wanting to soil his dulcet deliveries with your own voice. However I must say, I’m a guiltless man and try as I might, it didn’t stop me (much to the disappointment of my crowd-comrades) – Z’s Librarian was haunting. Lead guitarist Carl Broemen showed his class consistently throughout the night, whether that was unison vocals on Mega-hit Holdin’ Onto Black Metal, sweet-swells of pedal steel guitar, or a smooth-saxophone solo – his performance emphasised song and song again why My Morning Jacket’s sound is ever-evolving. In a strange way, they’re more similar to Main Stage Gods Kool & The Gang than any of their Folk contemporaries; unconcerned and unswayed by the lure of mainstream pop culture and entirely lead by the love of good.
The highlight of the night came in the form of smooth nine-minute album number Dondante. A truly riveting performance was defined by one particular moment where, after the groovy soul of the track produced back-to-back solos (one on sax, one on guitar) and dynamics were at an all-time low, the tension ensued until the moment it erupted with James screaming ‘You had me worried, so worried, that this would last’ – defining what is surely one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.
After an hour and fifty minutes, three encores, and a spine-tingling version of One Big Holiday to finish – the night was over. My Morning Jacket have the potential to change somebody’s life with one live show and, by delivering the embodiment of a headlining performance, they did last night.