With the global events of 2020, the length of the hiatus since artists last performed in a specific location has soared. However, few artists have had a break of eight years since they last played in London as My Morning Jacket has. With the Louisville, Kentucky five-piece having released two new albums within the last three years, there was an immense curiosity to hear this new material live.
Before My Morning Jacket even addressed the packed Forum, screams and cheers praised the supporting artist Devon Gilfillan. Having appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Gilfillian is a household name back in the States. As part of a four-piece band, Devon exhilarated the crowd with a motley of unique takes of RnB, Funk and Motown. Devon also played heavy rock and mastered guitar solos and riffs whilst allowing the other instruments, especially the organ, to enrich the soul of the set. Gilfillian’s unique genius lies in making a swift interchange of genres appear gradual without overwhelming an audience. Finally, Gilfillian’s ability to engage an audience who had come to see a prog-rock and psychedelic band like My Morning Jacket in hand clapping, waving, and singing is some feat.
Whether My Morning Jacket aimed to be the antithesis of Devon Gilfillan or not, the majority of the opening half of their set consisted of the bands’ more complex, prog-rooted extended songs. Whilst there was no hand clapping, waving, and seldom singing by the audience, the elated stoic awe at the Forum was a testament that it was worth the almost eight-year wait to see My Morning Jacket. Several other songs, including “I Will Be There When You Die”, showed a purist, acoustic folk side to frontman Jim James’ songwriting. These songs fit the My Morning Jacket template well. James appeared glad he could express this side of his songwriting live with My Morning Jacket instead of just his side projects, such as Monsters of Folk.
As the set progressed, the songs offered more melodic elements and occasional opportunities for the audience to participate instead of being in statuesque tongue-out awe. New song “Love Love Love” from the latest My Morning Jacket self-titled album was an example of this.
Whilst the John Leckie-produced Z LP had the most songs played live, including the song “Wordless Chorus”, which played out the set, this My Morning Jacket set encompassed a wide section of their back catalogue, including five of their songs released in the 2020s. Whilst some of My Morning Jacket’s sound can appear complex, requiring patience to appreciate, James’ lyrical messages are always clear and concise. This winning hybrid has continued to ensure that My Morning Jacket remains a “must-see” live band.