My Morning Jacket Celebrate the New Year!

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Jim James of My Morning Jacket/ Photo by Jackie Roman
WRITTEN BY
Larry Fitzmaurice

With new tunes and classics, lengthy jams, loads of covers, and more, My Morning Jacket's four-hour New Year's Eve show at New York City's Madison Square Garden showed why the band has become one of music's best live acts.

From their spirited, set-opening cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up," the Kentucky-bred quintet's performance, filmed in part for CNN's New Year's Eve TV special, seemed utterly contemporary, yet timeless and definitive, too.

The former SPIN cover boys -- dressed in black suits and led by hirsute vocalist/guitarist Jim James -- front-loaded their performance with fan favorites like a noodling, jammy version of "Off the Record."

The final crescendo on the ethereal, slow-building "Gideon" spurred fans to launch hundreds of glow sticks into the air; the arena, totally black aside from a few subtle stage lights, became filled with what looked like neon confetti..

As for the covers, My Morning Jacket's midnight rendition of Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" was best. The group emerged in white suits to play the horn-accompanied track, which was warmly welcomed with plastic-flute champagne toasts.

Later, an inspired version of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's "Islands in the Stream," came complete with a guest appearance by New Jersey singer/songwriter Nicole Atkins.

But it was the band's original material that really showed why they're continually hailed as one of rock's top live acts. "Highly Suspicious," an oddball rocker with crunchy guitars, was a fun head-banger, while "Touch Me, I'm Going To Scream," also off this year's Evil Urges, featured James's urgent vocals over pulsing bass and layered guitar riffs.

"Dancefloors" and "Mahgeetah," both pastoral rockers off 2005's It Still Moves, got diehards dancing, while Z's "Wordless Chorus" put the weed smoke in the air.

"Remember how this is -- how it feels to be alive?" frontman James asked the crowd. By the night's closer, the barn burning "One Big Holiday," it seemed impossible that anyone in attendance would go into 2009 feeling otherwise.

Set list:
"Move On Up" (Curtis Mayfield) *
"Evil Urges" *
"Off the Record"
"Gideon"
"The Way that He Sings"
"Thank You Too"
"I'm Amazed"
"Golden" (w/ Will Johnson)
"Librarian"
"All I Need" (w/ Nicole Adkins / Marvin Gaye cover) *
"Express Yourself" * (Charles Wright)
"What a Wonderful Man""Low Down"
"Phone Went West"
"Look at You"
"Dondante"
"Smokin' From Shootin'"
"Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Part 2"
"Run Thru"
"I'm a Wanderer" (Dion cover) *
"Dancefloors" *
"Mahgeetah"

New Year's Intermission"Celebration" (Kool and the Gang) *
"Get Down On It" (Kool and the Gang) *
"Wordless Chorus"
"Highly Suspicious"
"Cobra"
"Islands in the Stream" (w/ Nicole Atkins / Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers)
"Bring it On Home to Me" (Sam Cooke) *
"Cold Sweat (James Brown) *"Anytime"
"One Big Holiday"

(* w/ New Year's Eve Horn Section)

More photos after the jump!


Jim James / Photo by Jackie Roman


Jim James / Photo by Jackie Roman


Jim James / Photo by Jackie Roman


Carl Broemel and Two Tone Tommy / Photo by Jackie Roman


Two Tone Tommy / Photo by Jackie Roman


Carl Broemel / Photo by Jackie Roman


Jim James / Photo by Jackie Roman


Jim James / Photo by Jackie Roman

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