My Morning Jacket and Sharon Jones - Gibson Amphitheatre - 12-01-11
Past the gauntlet of Universal City Walk with its seizure-inducing lights, blaring Christmas pop remixes, and downright oppressive wafts of popcorn and cologne, there was a damn fine show last night in the dimly lit confines of the Gibson Ampitheatre.
One couldn't help but notice that right next to an entire neon village dedicated to selling you things based on current marketing trends, two bands performed that have never taken any notice of current musical trends at all. Both of them tapping into a wealth of pure organic human emotion, nothing prepackaged or preprogrammed or researched.
Up first was the formidable funk soul powerhouse Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Due to an unfortunate set-time of 7:45 p.m., the ampitheatre had only a smattering of people who had fought the rush hour traffic early. As soon as Jones took the stage one couldn't help pitying those who were still stuck in their cars or drinking beer outside.
In a black fringed dress with silver sandals strapped to her shoes, Ms Jones commanded your attention from the moment she grabbed the microphone. With a voice ten times her size, she ran the gamut of a relationship issues from seduction to cheating to that uncertain feeling when you're not sure if your lover really loves you back.
Shimmying all over the stage, Ms Jones grabbed one shy young man from out of the crowd and pulled him on stage and serenaded him with "Are You Going To Give It Back." The poor baffled thing just stood there with his hands on his hips, unsure of what to do next, as she tried to dance with him. Eventually either out of boredom or empathy she threw him back. The set was short, sharp, and tightly wound with no room for banter. The sharply dressed Dap-Kings were on stage just long enough to win the reluctant crowd over and then they vanished into the darkness.
A cloud of blue tinted smoke covered the stage as My Morning Jacket went on at nine. The five piece from Kentucky received a warm welcome from the crowd as they launched into a set that included everything from Americana to folk to reggae to gospel to soul to larger than life rock n' roll.
Absorbing genres like a sponge, My Morning Jacket manages to constantly reinvent itself with every album while still remaining recognizably themselves. When Jim James opens his mouth and let's loose his angelic iconic voice there is no doubt what band it is.