If there was any lingering disappointment in the audience about My Morning Jacket being moved from the Idaho Botanical Garden to the Knitting Factory, frontman Jim James made it disappear like a shaman Sunday night.
Chant-singing slowly over the ominous tribal groove of “Victory Dance,” he commanded the Knitting Factory crowd like a voodoo priest summoning spirits. Arms held high above their heads, the 974 fans swayed in unison. A few reached blissfully toward the stage, grabbing invisible handfuls of the blue light that bathed the room.
Would the moment have been more transcendent outdoors under the stars? Sure. But even packed inside the Knit — where it can be tough for vertically challenged fans to see all of the action — this was a special, cathartic experience. (Plus, let's be honest: My Morning Jacket didn't sell enough tickets to play at Outlaw Field. The show at the Knit did not quite sell out.)
Fans of the Kentucky band couldn’t ask for much more. My Morning Jacket’s set was more than two hours long. James played the rock god role perfectly — all beard and hair and sky-scraping vocals on favorites such as “I’m Amazed.” He rocked furiously and creatively on lead guitar. (The man did have 14 pedals at his feet.) My Morning Jacket’s attack was bombastic and thunderous, helped in part by pre-recorded backing vocals during unusual songs such as “Holdin’ on to Black Metal.” (Although James' famously reverb-drenched singing voice did get lost in the mix of that one.)
If you hadn’t seen My Morning Jacket live before, the sheer intensity of the show probably surprised you. The five musicians pounded the audience viscerally. And as they cranked for minutes on end, the green lasers and blinding strobes got faster.
James didn’t say a word to the crowd until late in the night, when he observed that “The energy is beautiful.” That's when he brought up a guest — guitarist Johnny Quaid, a former member of My Morning Jacket who now lives in the Treasure Valley and has a band called the Ravenna Colt. Jamming shoulder to shoulder with James, Quaid beamed on stage. It was a cool surprise that evolved into a skull-crushingly loud jam session. There are definitely some eardrums still ringing in Boise workplaces this morning.