My Morning Jacket: Confessional at Beech Mountain
My Morning Jacket's show at Beech Mountain was a testament to the band's ability to elevate the concert experience to new heights.
The night opened with Katie Pruitt, a singer-songwriter tomboy with tones of Melissa Etheridge in her voice. With a mix of mental health confessions and love declarations, Pruitt is a poet with a knack for word play. In her confessional, "Blood Related," she laments about being "blood related and trying to relate," touching on the universal theme of generational differences and disconnects within a family, as told from a daughter's perspective. Pruitt gave the audience an extra special treat with a song she had written just three days prior to that night, "Phases of the Moon," both lamenting and being in awe of the way love waxes and wanes. Katy Pruitt seemed an odd pairing. However, she won over the crowd with her heartfelt tunes, and willingness to be open within her set. She is an up-and-comer to keep an eye out for!
As if the stage was suddenly hijacked, MMJ exploded on stage with theatrical flair, hitting the downbeat hard with "Dancefloors." The audience responded with an explosion of cheer and excitement from the very first lyric. Immediately following the explosive first set was the celestial-sounding "Gideon," then the self-affirming "Run It," pulling back the energy in the crowd to a slower communal sway of introspection. The band seemed to be singing the words to their private journal, sharing their personal journey of self-discovery.
Picking up the tempo, MMJ segued into "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Pt. 1," an endearing plea for love and physical affection. Next up were "Holdin On To Black Metal" and "Wordless Chorus," in which the lyricist is questioning his values and intentions. Although heavy subjects, lead singer, Jim James, balances the subject matter with his joyfully ethereal voice. After a bit of self-reflection, MMJ delivered "Phone Went West," expressing apologies and the desire to make amends. The apology must have been accepted, because next up was "Golden," a song promising forever to the one he loves. If the setlist is not autobiographical, the story certainly was believable thus far.
MMJ then returned to introspection. This time, instead of questioning the self, it was acknowledging accomplishments and resilience with "Where to Begin." Then they were acknowledging the musician's life of the traveling grind while a love is back at home with "Climbing the Ladder," "Lay Low," and "Steam Engine."
"Circuital" was a lovely observation on the full-circle moments in life, while "Never in the Real World" was a humble confession of a musician's belief that they could never survive or thrive in the so-called "real world." By this point, one might start to feel well acquainted with the band after hearing so many tales of ups and downs, and lessons learned.
The foot stomping "One Big Holiday" fashioned a vision for the future days of the band, told from the perspective of the group after they got their first big break. In other words, My Morning Jacket is living the dream - "their dream." It was the perfect farewell-and-thank-you set at the end of the night.
The encore played like a post-script at the end of a love letter. "Slow Slow Tune" rang out like a sweet good-bye, "You, somewhere in the future listening, I hope the present for you is glistening." Sandwiched in was the ever-popular "Cobra." But the capstone, "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Pt. 2," was the happy ending to the love story that every audience hopes for.
It comes as no surprise that My Morning Jacket's ability to evoke a range of emotions through their music was truly inspirational, and this performance was certainly no exception.
Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 1
Holdin On to Black Metal
Phone Went West
Where to Begin
Climbing the Ladder
Never in the Real World
One Big Holiday
Slow Slow Tune
Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 2
Review: Libby O'Daniel
Photos: Tim Hobert