My Morning Jacket, Astoria, London

Astoria, London

It is two years since Kentucky rockers My Morning Jacket last played in London. Their last scheduled gig was called off when singer Jim James went down with pneumonia just as their fourth album, Z, was released. That album saw them embellishing their trademark country-rock squall with dashes of Flaming Lips-esque keyboard detailing and pushing their poppy side to the fore.

A clutch of those pretty, synth-led songs open tonight's show. Suddenly, things that sounded on record like a band deliberately avoiding what they do best start to make sense. Even the faintly ditzy cod-reggae single Off the Record somehow rings true.

James' extraordinary, arena-filling voice is a little more playful and whimsical with melody than before, but still pitch-perfect. All the while he's bouncing around the stage like a little kid, his 360-degree mop of hair barely giving even a glimpse of his features.

Rapture greets the arrival of old favourite One Big Holiday, and the all-out rock band is back, complete with sweetly cacophonous build-ups and glorious Allman Brothers-style guitar duelling. It's a sound My Morning Jacket have mastered beautifully, and it's good to hear that it's not entirely left behind in the new material. The monumental Lay Low hits new psychedelic heights and, best of all, Anytime combines their bright new pop twist and that pounding rock classicism pretty much seamlessly.

There's the occasional lull - some of the electronics just don't quite gel, and now and then the long instrumental workouts fail to take off. But that's not often, and the two-hour set flies by with the old thrills taken further than ever, and a few new ones marking a skilful broadening of style. Just how it should be, and well worth the wait.

Tom Hughes

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

My Morning Jacket, The Forum, London

3 stars The Forum, London

Jude Rogers

18, Jul, 2008 @11:24 PM

Article image
My Morning Jacket, Garage, London

Garage, London

Carrie O'Grady

12, Feb, 2003 @12:36 PM

Article image
My Morning Jacket – review
Every song built to an elemental psych-country crescendo, but My Morning Jacket boast the melodic ballast to anchor them from a drift too far into pretension, writes Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont

08, Nov, 2011 @6:50 PM

Article image
CD: My Morning Jacket, Z

(RCA)

David Peschek

21, Oct, 2005 @12:55 AM

Article image
CD: My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges

(Rough Trade)

Dave Simpson

05, Jun, 2008 @11:10 PM

My Morning Jacket: Circuital – review
My Morning Jacket drop the funk and soft rock but their return to form is patchy, says Phil Mongredien

Phil Mongredien

04, Jun, 2011 @11:05 PM

My Morning Jacket: Circuital – review
The Louisville natives get back on track with hazy, sometimes utterly resplendent melodies, writes Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

02, Jun, 2011 @9:50 PM

Article image
My Morning Jacket

Louisville, Kentucky residents Jim James (lead vocals, guitar), Johnny Quaid (guitar), Tommy Blankenship (bass), Danny Cash (keyboards), and Patrick Hallahan (drums). Their awesome, semi-acoustic, reverb-heavy dreaminess is inspired by a vision of combining rock'n'roll with the Muppet Show and Disney.

Dave Simpson

22, Nov, 2002 @1:59 AM

Article image
My Morning Jacket: The Waterfall review – initially endearing, lacklustre later
The Kentucky five-piece seem to have lost touch with their space-rocking former selves on their latest release

Paul Mardles

03, May, 2015 @7:00 AM

My Morning Jacket: 'We had to work it out ourselves'

They started out in a barn in Kentucky, and became one of rock's great cult success stories. My Morning Jacket's Jim James talks to Stevie Chick about music, death and the Muppets

Stevie Chick

27, Oct, 2011 @8:30 PM