One week before the 20th anniversary of the release of My Morning Jacket’s debut album The Tennessee Fire, frontman Jim James visited 9:30 Club as part of his solo tour for his most recent LP, 2018’s Uniform Distortion. MMJ is known for prolific touring, and their fans are known for their dedicated attendance. As they waited for James to take the stage, several members of the crowd shared stories of the six, 12, or 20 times they had seen a solo performance or MMJ show before.
James kicked off the show with songs from Uniform Distortion and it’s acoustic companion Uniform Clarity. With a plugged-in full band, Washington DC got the Distortion versions of “Over and Over” “We Get to Rome” and “Out of Time.”
Much of the crowd embraced James’ indictment of modern hashtag culture by dancing instead of recording IG stories as he sang “Throw back Thursday to the way that it was/When we were young/Scroll back in time through your account/Watch your face grow younger as real time runs out.” They had plenty to dance to with long jam breaks featuring James gritty guitar solos.
While James’ solo material carried the show, the truly transcendent moments came in the acoustic encore when he performed My Morning Jacket songs “I’m Amazed” and “Hopefully.” Those songs finally allowed him to unleash the legendary upper register of his vocal range.
Amo Amo started the evening with bilingual mystic dream pop. The band was born when Jim James pulled its members into an impromptu recording session. That meeting eventually resulted in Amo Amo’s debut album, which was produced by James and released in April 2019. At the show, Amo Amo’s Love Femme and Omar Velasco stayed on stage as backing vocals throughout the headlining set, and Love Femme joined James for acoustic duets “Of the Mother Again” and “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)” to close out the night.