Reentering My Morning Jacket’s orbit in Boston
By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor
In the middle of “Run Thru,” about two hours into the band’s set, I had no idea where I was.
Without the influence of anything stronger than a Harpoon beer, I wouldn’t have recognized what city I was in, that I was in a tent alongside the harbor, how I got there, how I was getting back, none of it. All that mattered was Jim James and Carl Broemel were trading guitar licks while the rest of the band pounded their way through a manic, pulsating rhythm. It builds and it builds and just grows into this ridiculously brooding intensity before, suddenly, the bottom falls out, that dragged-out riff returns and the 5,000 folks inside [Insert Bank Name Here] Pavilion explode at once.
It was sublime. And I was thrilled to be back within the My Morning Jacket universe.
At one point, I saw this band six times in an 18-month stretch, capped with their show at Symphony Hall backed by the Boston Pops in 2006. And I’m not sure when, but at some point, they kind of went on the shelf, and I lost touch with them. Different bands fill different spaces in our lives for different reasons, and I’m not sure I can articulate why I stopped listening to them as intently. They were there, then they weren’t. But the band never stopped, obviously, and I never made a conscious decision to put them away.
Maybe it’s time. Because when Bruce, fresh off our trip to see Pearl Jam in Québec City, proposed seeing My Morning Jacket in Boston, I didn’t hesitate. It felt like the right time, and from the opening strains of “Wasted,” it was obviously the right decision.
The material from their past few records, particularly 2021‘s My Morning Jacket and the two Waterfall albums, was strong and an excellent reminder that they haven’t lost a step in those intervening years. I discovered the band and really went headfirst in that 2001-06 period between At Dawn and Okonokos, so that’s where I’ll naturally gravitate, but everything blended and nothing felt out of place. Still, hearing “X-Mas Curtain” and “Golden,” to name two, hit me harder than I would’ve thought. But those were two songs I clung to for years, and for reasons not worth considering, they just sort of drifted out of rotation. And both were note-perfect and sorely needed after that much time away.
From there, the set became gloriously ridiculous. “Holdin On to Black Metal” hit the crowd like a train. The nasty riff that triggers “Off the Record” blew through and turned the place into a party. And I’m not typically a dancer, but I’m pretty sure I was literally dancing in front of my seat by the time “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream” filled the air. Again, absolutely ridiculous.
Then the heaviness returned. “Master Plan” has lost none of its power to time, and neither has “I Think I’m Going to Hell” or “One Big Holiday.” By the time they wound up with “Wordless Chorus,” punctuating the evening with James’ otherworldly yelps, I was aware that the night was coming to an end but not to totally prepared for that reality. They could’ve blown off union curfews and played until the authorities cut power to the building. And that would’ve been fine. I was not ready to leave.
But let’s circle back to that version of “Run Thru,” transcendent as it was. It was one of those pure moments where everything but the music disappears, dissipating out of a 50-degree night on the water, lifting everyone up and not dropping a soul as they wound their way through eight or 10 minutes of bliss. It’s moments like these that make everything else worthwhile — fighting for an hour and 40 minutes through traffic to drive 22 miles, paying nearly the cost of another ticket to park, screaming internally that I should’ve just stayed home on the couch and not dealt with all this nonsense.
That, indeed, would’ve been nonsense. A band like this doesn’t just exist out of nothing, and bands never last forever. Buy the ticket, take the ride, as the doctor once said. And what a ride My Morning Jacket gave us on this night.
I won’t be putting them back on the shelf any time soon. It’s just good to have them back.
E-mail Nick Tavares at email@example.com