Jim James’ journey, on stage at the Pabst
The My Morning Jacket frontman's solo show for Regions Of Light And Sound Of God was a transformative experience, blissfully showcasing a lone star.
In his debut solo album, Regions Of Light And Sound Of God, Jim James (aka Yim Yames, aka the frontman of My Morning Jacket) strays from his country rock persona. Last night, at his Pabst Theater concert, I witnessed that transformation live. Stripped of his MMJ collaborators, James’ delectable, heartbreakingly euphoric vocals took us on a journey, with themes of love, forgiveness, destiny and new beginnings.
From the first sight of James, returning to Milwaukee in a coffee brown suit, it was clear he was ready to prove there is more to him than meets the eye. Although many of his songs bare heavy meaning, the singers infectious energy and exhilaration uplifted the crowd throughout the evening.
“State Of The Art (A.E.I.O.U.)” showcased James’ pureness with the crackling of his voice and the hushed keys on the piano. Once the drums kicked in, fans belted out, “A.E.I.O.U.” along with the singer which set the tempo for the evening.
Without speaking to the crowd, James breezed through the entirety of his debut solo album, turning a 38-minute album into a two-hour concert. He danced; he sang; he glid across the stage; he played the sax and whaled on the guitar. All the while, he stayed upbeat and enthusiastic.
When he returned for the encore, it seemed he’d evolved into a different artist than the one that emerged. After thanks to Milwaukee, calling the Pabst a “treasure,” he kicked into MMJ’s fast tempo “Movin’ Away” off Circuital. He wrapped up the night with a pleasant surprise: a mini-set (“Dear God”, “The Right Place” “Losin Yo Head” and “His Master’s Voice”) from his supergroup Monsters of Folk with M. Ward and Bright Eyes members Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis.
As the two-hour set came to an end, James had left his audience in an undeniable state of bliss. His nontraditional approach to music is what I love most about him. I can only hope he’ll return to Milwaukee sooner rather than later.