My Morning Jacket, The Forum, London

The Forum, London

Kentucky's My Morning Jacket used to be the adventurous cousins of Flaming Lips and Wilco, making music as dusty and wild as their beards. Tonight, however, they sound peculiarly pedestrian: these days they fancy themselves a rock group.

As they launch into opener Off the Record, singer Jim James struts around stage, his bandmates banging their heads in support. Later, he cranks out a Flying V solo that would embarrass a four-year-old and slides on his knees like a cut-price Bruce Springsteen. For a band that used to be known for their reverb-heavy mystery, they have certainly changed.

The two-hour set is dominated by songs from their new album, Evil Urges, and the band's subtleties are often lost. Gideon, from 2005's Z, hides its charms in a riot of noise, while the new track I'm Amazed gets submerged in loud drums from Phil Collins' top drawer. When the band's melodies do emerge, it is a relief. Lowdown, from 2001's At Dawn, is a highlight, shimmering with the warmth that made the group's early records so affecting.

But when James steps up to the microphone alone, the magic really begins. His gorgeous, intimate voice needs room to breathe, and when he offers some measured falsetto in Look at You, the audience stop pumping their fists and look awestruck. They should be. Elsewhere, James forgets his true talent, yelping and squealing like a pig in heat.

The show ends with One Big Holiday, a huge, U2-inspired epic about how the band were discovered. "From this town, we'd escape/ If we holler loud and make our way," James sings with relish. This tells us everything about a band buying into their dream, and forgetting the roots that took them there.

· This article was amended on Friday August 1 2008. We originally referred to Jim James as Jim Jones. This has been corrected.


Jude Rogers

The GuardianTramp

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