My Morning Jacket and Wilco, Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia, PA- 6/23
Two of the most enigmatic frontmen on the same bill— too good to be true! Jim James and Jeff Tweedy playing the same show. Well, that was enough to get me and the crew to motivate from New York and drive down to Philadelphia too see the co-bill. We were in for quite a treat.
The venue itself was perfect. The pier was not too crowded, the line for concessions moved quickly, the tent was air conditioned and had a big-screen TV showing the stage with the sound piped in. Actual bathrooms graced the right side of the stage and the sunset over Philly’s skyline graced the left.
My Morning Jacket opened the show with "O is the One That is Real" off the Sweatbees EP, then introduced the crowd to a new song (to appear on their much-anticipated new album due out this fall) "Off the Record" which really got the energy up. Despite his new haircut, Jim James still retains his prophetic aura—he possesses that intangible sage-like quality that really shines when he’s mashing chords on his flying V guitar with his (albeit shorter) hair flopping around. His voice soared through the clouds during flawless renditions of "One Big Holiday," "Golden," "I Will Sing You Songs," and "Run Thru" all off 2003 ATO release It Still Moves.
Even having seen the band several times recently, I was still surprised with how tight their sound is. The new song demonstrates that the band is able to grow while still retaining its trademark sound. Guitarist Carl Broemel also impressed the crowd with his saxophone skills towards the end of the set. James’ choice of "Mahgeeta" as the closer was perfect just as the sun was setting and the crowd filling up.
Then Wilco came on. The stark contrast between My Morning Jacket’s reverb and Wilco’s feedback really echoed in my head (well, maybe it was just the sheer volume of the show). With such a large catalogue to choose from, Wilco knows how to entertain the audience and they are still able to change things up night to night. Great versions of "Shot in the Arm," "Handshake Drugs," "War on War," "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" opened the set giving the crowd enough energy to keep moving throughout the whole show.
Tweedy was in fine form, too. He had great banter in between songs—pointing out that the thumping music from the disco club just downriver from us sounded like a shoe in a dryer (But, he also took it a little too far by mentioning the digestive track problems he was experiencing that evening).
The rest of the material from 2004’s A Ghost Is Born was very well received (the set closer "Spiders" especially), but some other gems, like a sweet lugubrious "Sunken Treasure" and rousing "Kamera" really stood out. The band reemerged for 2 encores, including "Just a Kid" from the SpongeBob Square Pants Movie soundtrack and a high-energy "Monday" and "Outtasite Outtamind" to leave us pumped up for the ride back to Manhattan.