My Morning Jacket has always vibrated on a frequency apart from other American rock bands.
Deep, strange, weird, spiritual and psychedelic, the Kentucky-formed quintet is an idiosyncrasy in an age of ironic posturing — wild-haired frontman Jim James seems to parody the rock star cliche of a sunglasses-clad shaman, even as he also embodies it.
Clad in all black, James never removed his shades Saturday, roaming the stage for two hours at the Verizon Theatre, his cut-glass falsetto slicing through the pungent, murky haze and Technicolor glow of the five-piece band’s full-tilt light show and sonic display.
The crowd, while not staggering in number (the upper deck of the theatre was curtained off, and there were vast swaths of empty seats visible), made up for it with a vociferous enthusiasm, moving almost as one and bellowing back lyrics.
My Morning Jacket was at the end of its current leg of touring Saturday, an endeavor that’s taken up the better part of the past year, promoting their latest album, The Waterfall. (Saturday’s show was the band’s first DFW appearance in four years.)
Perhaps the band’s knowing the end was in sight (touring resumes in mid-November) is what gave the night such a contemplative, mellow focus.
After an early burst of up-tempo numbers — the opener, Circuital, tumbling into First Light and Off the Record — My Morning Jacket spent much of their main set burrowing into lengthy, slow burn songs, such as I Think I’m Going to Hell and Dondante, which unfurled over what seemed like an interminable length (it’s an eight-minute song on 2005’s Z, but felt like twice that Saturday).
The encore restored a little lift, with Wordless Chorus and One Big Holiday, but the prevailing mood was one of introspection. My Morning Jacket’s excursions into nuance are fascinating — to a point. There was an excess of intimate, somber moments, which would have benefited from a little more oomph.
Everything was exquisitely rendered Saturday — their reputation as a peerless group of musicians is intact — but what began as dazzling eventually drifted toward dull, a frequency My Morning Jacket has, to this point, studiously avoided.