My morning jacket is the perfect example of graceful aging

For most groups, aging gracefully is an impossible task. It’s something a band doesn’t have to think about in its first decade, but as albums begin to celebrate their 10s and 20s, the choices of how to pursue a career (voice of Pavement) become closer, regardless of the quality of the most recent material of said group. You can double down on what’s new in concert, knowing that a good chunk of your audience might still be drawn to the tracks that made them fall in love in the first place. Or, you can go into full nostalgia mode and visit full classic albums or mostly ignore recent material from live broadcasts.

Or, if you’re a Kentucky My Morning Jacket great, you find the perfect middle ground, where a gig clearly feels like you’re entering a greatest hits phase while showing where the latest songs fit in. . That was the energy MMJ brought to Los Angeles on Wednesday. , playing the iconic Hollywood Forever Cemetary to a sold-out crowd of seated picnickers, standing superfans and regulars at the venue mostly there for the atmosphere. Bandleader Jim James, who has lived on and off in Los Angeles for years, clearly knew the score, shouting out the movie schedule from the room as filming began, where he recalled seeing The Wizard of Oz then visiting her star pup, Toto, whose grave is on the property.

But when scanning the band’s recent setlists, fellow artists should note how the band walks that tightrope. The set changes drastically each night, with much of their beloved material on the table. And generally, all the eras of the group are revealed. Of course, neither of the first two albums featured on this night, but shows on both sides of the Hollywood date were found At dawn and The Tennessee Fire still appearing. And while Z and It’s still moving will always be fan favorites, the set also highlights just how well singles from Bad impulses and Circuit have aged.

The past work is so strong – though it’s clearly not perfectly suited to the age of streaming, where the band’s singular indie-country-jam hybrid doesn’t fit neatly into the music playlists of background – just a splatter of tracks from the band’s recent, pretty good two albums fit together perfectly. Both fell during the pandemic, The Waterfall II and My morning jacket find the band still operating with command and ease. In an interview with Uproxx for the latter, James noted that there was a chance the band would be finished before it was formed, and this tour behind it has that borrowed time sensitivity. These are the performances of a band that not only wants to share its latest offerings, but also celebrate its own existence and survival.

Thus, the biggest songs of MMJ soared: “One Big Holiday”, “Off The Record”, “Victory Dance”, “Evil Urges”. MMJ also honored their leader’s solo efforts by offering the surprising “State of the Art (AEIOU)”. Z‘s closest, “Dodante,” was a particular highlight, all the tension and release that showed a band’s ability to go from nuance to bombshell in no time. And a song like “Complex,” off their latest album, exemplifies the Kentucky band’s ever-changing sonic sensibilities and how all roads lead to their Southern rock roots.

The final years of My Morning Jacket might have some wondering how much is left in the tank, especially after James noted that the end seemed imminent at various stages in recent years. But you would never know that at a My Morning Jacket concert. They are known for their elite level live shows and that is always exactly what they deliver. And in these shows of 2022, the past and the present have hardly any borders. It’s as graceful as growing old in music can be, and their rock peers would be served to follow suit.