Saturday, September 13th, 2003
The Way That He Sings
Last night was my first concert in about a month and a half, and it seems I’ve grown unaccustomed to large crowds. And there was a large crowd at Lee’s Palace for My Morning Jacket and The Sleepy Jackson. I guess the hefty promotional push this show had gotten over the past week did its job.
The Sleepy Jackson are a hotly-tipped outfit from Australia whose debut album Lovers is getting some solid reviews. Their live show traded off much of the eclecticism of the record for balls-out arena rock moves – there were more than the requisite number of windmills and feet on monitors, maybe something they’ve picked up from touring with MMJ. They were let down somewhat by a shoddy mix, but made up for it with enough energy and enthusiasm to impress much of the audience. I was particularly impressed with frontman Luke Steele’s ability to make sense of his pedalboard – the man must have had at least 20 different effect boxes on that thing. Insane, I’d hate to be his roadie. Lovers is available only on import in Canada, and they had no copies for sale at the show.
Kentucky’s My Morning Jacket were in Toronto for the fourth time in a year and a half, but for some reason this felt like their coming out party, promoting their major-label debut It Still Moves, out just this week. Two of their shows were opening stints for Doves and Foo Fighters and another show at the Horseshoe back in May seemed to have come and gone without anyone noticing. Well people noticed this time – It Still Moves has been getting high praise from everyone who matters (including me! – har har) for its blend of country, southern rock, gospel and blues boogie (yet still somehow remaining indie-rock approved). And there’s nothing about these guys that isn’t big. The songs are big – more than a few epic length jams. The sound is big – the backline was all Mesa/Boogie amps turned up to Spinal Tap levels. The hair is big – lots of whipping around huge huge rock-n-roll approved manes. The beards are big – enough said about that. The moves are big – anyone who thought the Sleepy Jackson had energy hadn’t seen ANYTHING yet. And the voice – Jimmy James has an incredible set of pipes, a massive, soaring, plaintive field holler that sends chills down your spine and wrapped in a huge blanket of reverb, it’s like hearing heartbroken dispatches from a mountaintop in Appalachia. Stunning. And while totally expected, his solo acoustic encore of “Ring Of Fire” was still a touching tribute to the passing of The Man In Black. So everyone who goes on about My Morning Jacket being an incredible live act? They’re right. And having picked up It Still Moves and At Dawn at the show, they’re no slouches on tape, either.
Oh yeah, photos.
np – My Morning Jacket / At Dawn