Jim James Concert Review – Toronto April 2013

Jim James’ out of this world psychedelic performance at the Phoenix Concert Theatre can only really be appreciated live and compares to live performances of Pink Floyd. Read on for a Jim James concert review.

April 30 2013 – Jim James, the lead singer of My Morning Jacket, a favorite at T-Mak World, levitated into Toronto to play the Phoenix Concert Theatre in support of his debut solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God on April 24 2013 at the Phoenix Concert Hall.

Jim James is one of, if not the most energetic front man performing today.  My Morning Jacket (MMJ) is T-MAK World’s ”best band you have never heard” (along with Rival Sons) and James has to be seen live to be appreciated, whether with MMJ or in his many side projects including his solo work.

Like My Morning Jacket shows, (see our review hereJames’ show is far and away better live than any vinyl, CD,or MP3 can do justice.  James shows are calling out for a live album and DVD and have a sense of double jeopardy about them.  The smaller venue is ideal and all fans want to keep this our little secret, but at the same time fans do want to spread the word.  The show in Toronto was no different; a 2 hour performance that was out of this world.  James like many creative visionaries such as Roger Waters, (who James played with during the tribute to The Band’s Levon Helm) is living in a different plane musically and creates his own rules and crosses boundaries and challenges expectations.

James played the whole debut album front to back in order, which is not the norm, but played amazing extended versions of each song.  For many of the songs James started with just a microphone, singing and dancing like a man possessed by the Muses and ended up with him either playing a guitar on a stand or a grabbing a guitar from the technician and head banging rock’in jam for 1-2 minutes in the middle and often at end of a song as he often does during the My Morning Jacket shows.

James’ band, Kevin Ratterman on keyboards and guitars, Alana Rocklin on Bass, Dan Dorff on keyboards and drummer David Given were superb at covering the gamut of sound styles experienced during the show that varied from melodic to soul to rock to psychedelic and were the ideal compliment to James energy and ideal conspirators for that musical journey.  James tends to elevate the people he plays with and the fans alike.  Afterwards while waiting for the crew to pack up to head to their next destination, the band did state that the Toronto audience was lucky as this was a great show and that was very evident that that they were on their game at the Phoenix.

The highlight of the show was God’s Life to Deliver, the last song on the album where a 13 min psychedelic trance like jam at the end of the song really blew past expectations with James playing  saxophone and some spoken word that for sure crossed into a psychedelic musical plane that few bands such as Pink Floyd inhabit. The amazing light show completed the vessel that James needs to pilot the evening’s journey to the Regions of Light and Sound of God.  The other key highlight in a show full of highlights was before the required drum solo in any good rock show, Ratterman and Dorff joined Given on a couple drum pads to assist in build the energy for the start of a very amazing drum solo.

Even after turning a 38min album into a 75 minute trip to the Regions of Light and Sound of God, James continued to amaze the audience by playing another 40 minute set of “covers” from 3 of James other projects including an acoustic version of My Morning Jacket’s Wonderful (The Way I feel), 4 songs from Monsters of Folk and ended with a song from New Multitudes.

James will be back in Toronto at Molson Amphitheater on with My Morning Jacket for the Americanarama Music Festival with Bob Dylan and Wilco.  If you have never seen James live and like good “southern head banging psychedelic indie rock” add My Morning Jacket to you must see concert list. After the Americanarama tour James will be back out to promote the solo work and we hope James will continue to make Toronto a regular stop.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5. James continues to show that he has the creativity, energy and challenges expectations the way other masters have in the past with a live show that must be experienced.

We apologize for not having any pictures of the night to publish but we did not get the proper accreditation for photos.


State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)
Know Til Now
Dear One
A New Life
Of the Mother Again
All Is Forgiven
God’s Life to Deliver
Wonderful (The Way I Feel) [My Morning Jacket]
Dear God, (Sincerely M.O.F) [Monsters of Folk]
His Master’s Voice [Monsters of Folk]
The Right Place [Monsters of Folk]
Losin Yo Head [Monsters of Folk]
Changing World [New Multitudes]


Review – Micheal Litt 
T-Mak World: Toronto’s Site for Music, Movies and Culture
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