My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James began his 14-show solo tour in Los Angeles at the start of November and has been steadily working his way across the country. This past Tuesday (Nov 13) he arrived at New York’s Town Hall for a sold-out show and delivered a powerful career-spanning performance. “I love coming back to New York,” James told an appreciative audience toward the end of his two-hour set. “I lived here for a while and it feels like home. New York is an example of what’s possible when we get things right.”

Although there were no overt political statements, there was an undercurrent of anxiety, frustration and anger at the current state of things. There was added emphasis whenever James sang lyrics with “truth” and “love” — the words hanging in the air long after they were released. His vocals were strong, as they needed to be, performing only with guitar and the intermittent accompaniment of David Givan on drums. The idea for the tour began with James’s desire to perform MMJ favorites as well as songs from his recent solo release, Uniform Distortion, in a stripped-down format — “as they were written” he has said. (He also recently released acoustic versions of those songs as Uniform Clarity.)

Opening with “I’m Amazed” from MMJ’s Evil Urges, the tone was set for an emotional evening. The lighting was subdued throughout the performance, creating a mood that fit the music. Other MMJ favorites included “Bermuda Highway,” “Only Memories Remain” and “Golden.” There were also several cuts from the Distortion album — “Just a Fool,” “All in Your Head” and “Throwback” — as well as “Same Old Lie” from his previous solo effort, Eternally Even.

On tour with James has been Bronx-born Alynda Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff. Paired with Riff Raff guitarist Jordan Hyde, the duo’s opening set featured tunes from their most recent album, The Navigator, that had the audience buzzing. One of the evening’s highlights was Segarra joining James for “Over and Over” (of which he also just released a version with Angel Olsen), a song from his new album that left no doubt where he stands: “We drop the same bombs, put up the same walls, we block the same roads, over and over again.”

The intimacy of Town Hall made it the perfect venue for a show like this, allowing for a connection with the audience. James and Segarra were on their way to the Capital Theater in Port Chester the next night, followed by dates in Boston, Washington, Atlanta, Nashville and Louisville. James’s instincts were correct. Performing traditionally hard-rocking tunes in a style and setting like this was a rare and refreshing treat.

Pictures of the Town Hall show are in the gallery above. Setlist and a couple videos below.

Jim James at 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
No Secrets
A New Life

Changing World (New Multitudes song)
Golden (My Morning Jacket song)
State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)
Here in Spirit


words & photos by Lou Montesano

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