Show Review

Brian Ahnmark
Sunday was a hell of a night to kick off the outdoor concert season at Lifestyle Communities Pavilion. Weather forecasts called for a 100 percent chance of strong thunderstorms throughout the evening.

Who knew a little music could chase the storms away?

The unlikely duo of My Morning Jacket and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band closed out a short spring tour with a rousing Columbus show on May 2. Preservation Hall Jazz Band took the stage first as a driving rain fell on the diehards in attendance. The pairing of a straight-up New Orleans creole jazz outfit with MMJ at first seemed curious, but it took mere seconds for PHJB to win over the soggy crowd. Rapturous applause cheered on inspired solos by Charlie Gabriel on clarinet and Frederick Lonzo on trombone, and suddenly, the rainfall felt less like a nuisance and more like salvation. MMJ lead vocalist and principal songwriter Jim James took the stage with PHJB for two songs, howling his trademark tenor through a bullhorn. Saxophonist Clint Maegden led the crowd through an ironic singalong of “You Are My Sunshine” to close out the opening set.

The timing of this tour was peculiar for My Morning Jacket; the band is currently between albums with no recent releases to promote. But with five albums under their belts, the boys had no shortage of material to sift through, and MMJ delivered on their hard-earned reputation as one of the planet's best live acts.

It never hurts to open with your most beloved song. MMJ got that out of the way with a scathing rendition of “One Big Holiday,” leading off a career-spanning 23-song set of popular favorites, curveballs and bizarre covers.

The unexpected moments were the most satisfying, beginning with a rare performance of the gorgeous “Where To Begin” eight songs in. This moving acoustic number appeared only on the soundtrack to the Cameron Crowe film Elizabethtown. James also led the band through “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” a leftover from his Monsters of Folk side project with Conor Oberst and M. Ward. Lead guitarist Carl Broemel even manned the lead mic for a tune, performing “Carried Away” from his solo album All Birds Say.

By then the rain had stopped, so MMJ took it upon themselves to bring the thunder. An utterly catastrophic version of “Dondante” bled into “Smokin' From Shootin',” which the band somehow managed to weld into the apocalyptic final half of “Run Thru” from 2003's It Still Moves. Leave it to My Morning Jacket to transition seamlessly between three stylistically unique albums.

The six-song encore benefited greatly from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band's appearance on five of the songs, their horns thickening “Evil Urges” and “Highly Suspicious.” Their presence no doubt inspired a cover of Al Johnson's Mardi Gras classic “Carnival Time,” as well as a jubilant take on the MMJ tune “Dancefloors,” which requires a full horn section.

The bands closed the show and the tour with a cover of Curtis Mayfield's “Move On Up,” which climaxed with PHJB pianist Rickie Monie smashing an acoustic guitar on stage. Nothing like a little gleeful destruction to stamp an exclamation mark on an evening of celebration.

Setlist

One Big Holiday
Off the Record
Gideon
I'm Amazed
Mageetah
Tonight I Want To Celebrate With You
Golden
Where To Begin
Lay Low
The Way That He Sings
Wonderful (The Way I Feel)
Carried Away
Dondante
Smokin' From Shootin'
Run Thru
Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt. 2
Anytime
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Wordless Chorus
Evil Urges
High Suspicious
Carnival Time (Al Johnson)
Dancefloors
Move On Up (Curtis Mayfield)