My Morning Jacket And Gary Clark Jr At Forest Hills Stadium, Saturday, July 15th, 2017 Reviewed
There is a lot to admire about My Morning Jacket’s performance Saturday: the weather was glorious, it wasn’t sold out and so there was room to luxuriate, there wasn’t the typical loud conversations that inflict most concerts in the 21st century, nobody was trying to put your cell phone in a ziplock bag, Gary Clark Jr. went on promptly at 6pm, performed for an hour with little fuss, My Morning Jacket came on at 730p, and performed till ten. These are all things that the inveterate concert goer will appreciate and more. Yesterday, I was complaining about how MMJ were playing all the new stuff, last night we got 5 songs from It Moves and five songs from Z.
But it is was boring as hell.
For their first ten years MMJ were a middling Southern jam band with a lead singer with a great upper range. In 2008, they came up with the greatest concept in their lives and for the briefest of times were the best rock band in the world: what if Curtis Mayfield fronted Lynyrd Skynyrd? The result was their sole masterpiece: Evil Urges, an album so great it made Jim an overnight rock god and if you’ve ever seen Jim you’ll appreciate how hard that is. Indeed, he was so hot that his next album was with Conor Oberst back when Conor was Jesus Christ, for the Monsters Of Folk band and my next sighting of Jim James was at United Palace with Monsters Of Folk eleven months later and it was over. I wrote at the time (here) “somewhere between My Morning Jacket’s awe inspiring New Year’s Eve 2008 concert at MSG and “My Master’s Voice” 11pm last night, Jim James put on a suit, grew a beard and fell asleep.” I saw them another couple of times but they were a boring some what pastoral Americana jam band. I disliked both of their next two albums intensely.
At Forest Hills, Gary Clark did his usual Hendrix-y guitar stuff, this is another guy who never followed up his game changing debut EP. I saw Gary at Bowery Ballroom in 2012 and was overawed and five years later he is still trying to figure out who he is now he knows he’s not Jimi Hendrix. Gary has the looks, and he can play guitar, he’d make a great great black hope, really. But he can’t write songs, he has an identity crises and he tries to remain a true creative artist with the instincts of a great creative artist but without anything approaching the skills. Both of his albums aren’t good but The Story of Sonny Boy Slim is shitty.
He was still better than My Morning Jacket. I haven’t left during the first song at a concert since Phil Collins MSG gig in 1990. I even lasted through three songs for Aerosmith in 1997. Halfway through the first song I picked up my backpack and began to head for the exit before doubling back. Look, let me prove it to you.
Here are the first two songs at MSG New Year’s Eve:
Move On Up
Now here are the first two songs Saturday Night:
The Way That He Sings
It’s like getting stuck in Woodstock on your way to Vegas, all pastoral quiet jams and head scratching meandering, this is jam as acoustic innocent blandouts, a bass and two guitar attack with keyboards to the side and a drummer they don’t use as well as they might, it was a steadily quiet evening with, in the 45 minutes I lasted, only “I’m Amazed” getting a rousing reception. With no close circuit TV at all, all you got was distance figures noodling away on and on and on. Hell would be listening to MMJ forever.
The audience was appreciative, then so were the audiences at the Nuremberg Rally.