The career of every significant rock band includes a brief span that's widely viewed as the act's artistic pinnacle.
The Who was never more powerful than when Tommy was released. Wilco was undeniably brilliant in its Yankee Hotel Foxtrot era. Arcade Fire may have recently peaked with the release of The Suburbs.
My Morning Jacket's moment is right now.
The band's concert Wednesday at the Uptown Theater showcased an excellent band in its prime. No matter how long My Morning Jacket sustains its artistic and commercial renaissance, Wednesday's audience of about 1,800 will likely never experience a better performance by the quintet from Kentucky. The concert was a nearly ideal rock spectacle.
The band is touring in support of its new release, Circuital, arguably the best of its six studio albums. In a steamy setting that created a communal camaraderie, six of My Morning Jacket's new songs were given their Kansas City debut. Containing the best attributes of the aforementioned bands, the new material sounded magnificent.
A sure sign that a band is in top form is its capacity to transform technical problems into spontaneous highlights. When the stage lights went out for a few minutes, they simply increased the intensity of their playing. Far more compelling than the strobe light-laden set were the antics of charismatic front man Jim James. With his long cloak, beard, mop of hair and crazed expressions, he was a dead ringer for the unsettling figure on the cover of Jethro Tull's Aqualung album.
My Morning Jacket is a guitar-oriented band that draws on blues, folk and country as well as indie rock. They also have a perilous predilection for extended jams. Instead of seeming self-indulgent, Wednesday's lengthy instrumental segments were transportive. Even so, the band is best when hewing to melody.
The best songs, consequently, were the insidious "Holdin' On To Black Metal" and the lilting "Wordless Chorus."
My Morning Jacket's reach extended into the set of opening act Delta Spirit. Bo Koster and Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket sat in on the San Diego-based band's song "Ransom Man," giving it an exquisite chamber folk flavor. Even though Delta Spirit played with a level of sincerity that would have made Bruce Springsteen blush, they were no match for the headliners.
My Morning Jacket's triumphant two-hour-and-fifteen-minute show began with new song "Victory Dance." The title conveys the appropriate reaction to the startlingly cathartic performance that followed.