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Published: 2013/01/10
by Andrew Bruss

My Morning Jacket, Agganis Arena, Boston, MA – 12/31

Image from My Morning Jacket’s Facebook page

My Morning Jacket’s Jim James led the countdown as the final moments of 2012 came to a close, only to kick off the New Year with one of the most appropriate versions of “One Big Holiday” the Louisville-bred quintet has ever played. With balloons and confetti falling from atop the ceilings of Boston University’s Agganis arena, it might also have been the most distracting version of the song they’ve performed.

Last time Jacket rang in the New Year, they did it in 2008 with a much larger crowd at Madison Square Garden, but apparently Phish has the Garden booked for years to come, and Boston fans reaped the benefits this time around.

Opening was the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, a New Orleans institution with a special place in the heart of James and his cohorts. Pretty much every time the two outfits have been on the same bill, they’ve performed together. PHJB has been known to play with Jacket on “Highly Suspicious,” and James sang “Saint James Infirmary” with the NOLA act this past summer. An early highlight of the evening was when James came out to perform “Those Gambler’s Blues,” during his openers’ set. As he belted out the somber lyrics to the Jimmie Rodgers classic, James roamed the stage with his mic stand, dancing with it like the last time two lovers met.

The band kicked off their set with “Circuital” the self-titled track off their latest release and things flew off the handle early on as the crowd sang along to the Evil Urges tune, “I’m Amazed.” Evil Urges is arguably Jacket’s strangest, most and the highlight of the set was when they got weird and stretched their legs on Part 1 and 2 of “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream,” with Z’s “Wordless Chorus” wedged between the two. Jim James wears a cape, has been known to rock the moon boots, and put out an EP under the alias Yim Yames, so this group is at its best when it’s at its weirdest.

Throughout the night James took a break from wearing his cape to sport a black wash cloth over the top of his head that cast a shadow over his face, making him look a like a cross between Darth Vader and one of the guys from Thin Lizzy.

While the group’s nearly three hour performance featured plenty of their own material, the story to be told lies in the covers they dished out throughout the evening. During the pre-countdown set they played Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and as the countdown neared, Wilson Pickett’s “In The Midnight Hour” made its debut. After the Countdown/”One Big Holiday,” Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long (All Night), made it’s second ever debut, the first being their previous performance in Port Chester, New York. Bringing to mind their New Years eve performance in 2008, Jacket busted out Kool and the Gangs’ “Celebration” and debuted both “Hungry Heart” by the Boss and The Clash’s “Rock The Casbah.”

While the set list was varied and everyone loves a good cover, the real highlight of the night laid in the incredible crowd Jacket was lucky enough to host. While the majority of ticket holders were likely from the Bay State, members of their fan club from all across the eastern seaboard made their way to Boston for the show, some from as far as Atlanta, and a whole lot of them wound up right in front of the stage.

It was great seeing the PHJB horns back the group up during the second set but more than the instrumental proficiency of the performers, what made the night special was the energy that radiated from the stage. My Morning Jacket is a band that can rock any size crowd, rattle any room and will always rise to the occasion.

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