Jim James continued his solo acoustic tour last night at New York City’s Town Hall. Despite its location in the heart of midtown, on a side street of the bustling Times Square, the 97-year-old venue fell totally silent when Jim James hit the stage and kicked things off with 2008’s “I’m Amazed”. The night would include four more My Morning Jacket songs along with hand-picked gems from his solo records.
The night was heavy on the new material from Uniform Clarity, the stripped down versions of the songs that debuted earlier this year on the full-band effort Uniform Distortion. Tracks like “Throwback” and “Over and Over” have already resonated nicely with the fanbase judging by the positive crowd reaction when the first notes were played. Other songs, like “No Secrets” and “No Use Waiting” allowed the crowd to quietly take in the new material, which all sounded incredible with the bare-bones set-up.
Apart from doing most of the show solo, Jim James was also joined by drummer Dave Givan who provided head-bopping beats to tracks like the freaky “No Use Waiting”, The Waterfall stand-out closer “Only Memories Remain” and the set-closing, feel-good “A New Life”.
With the stripped-down approach, Jim’s breathe as a songwriter was on full display. The Marvin Gaye moments of Eternally Even and the Woody Guthrie approach to the folky peace songs attested to his versatility, both vocally and in the realm of composition. After getting flowers from one audience member, Jim delivered a really heartfelt impromptu speech about how much his listeners mean to him, and how much he appreciates New York City, a place he used to call home. He said – alluding to the city’s tolerant and liberal ethics – that New York City is an example of how great the world can we when we ‘get it right.’
That means appreciating differences. It means walking side by side with those who are poorer or richer, lighter or darker skinned, similarly spiritual or differently. These are things that New York City has ingrained into its moral fabric, and it’s a beautiful experiment indeed.
After a wonderful 70-minute regular set, Jim James bowed out before coming back for a four-song encore. He kicked things off with “Changing World”, a song from the New Multitudes Woody Guthrie tribute album. After the song, James told the audience how mining the Woody Guthrie archives in NYC was one of the greatest moments of his career. He followed that with “Golden”, a seminal MMJ tune off It Still Moves. That primed the crowd for “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)”, which remained as powerful as the electric versions he’s played with a full band. “Here in Spirit” ended things on a really high note, with the whole orchestra now standing for the first time all night. The uplifting tune encompassed the vibe of the entire night, and everyone filed out with a fat grin on their face.
Jim James ability to connect with his audience is something that sets him apart from contemporary singer-songwriters. It’s not just another concert to see him, it is actually somewhat of a religious experience. It’s uplifting, emotional, and cathartic.
Jim James @ Town Hall 11/13/18 Setlist [via]
I’m Amazed (My Morning Jacket song)
You Get to Rome
Just a Fool
All in Your Head
The World’s Smiling Now
Hillside Song (My Morning Jacket song)
Yes To Everything
No Use Waiting
Rainbow Power (Timmy Thomas cover)
We Ain’t Getting Any Younger
Same Old Lie
Only Memories Remain (My Morning Jacket song)
Over and Over
Bermuda Highway (My Morning Jacket song)
Too Good to Be True
A New Life
Changing World (New Multitudes cover)
Golden (My Morning Jacket song)
State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)
Here in Spirit