By: Alex Wood | Photo: @scobaum
Every year, My Morning Jacket host One Big Holiday, a festival in Riviera Maya featuring three headlining sets in four nights alongside a slew of other artists.
This year’s festival took place February 4-7, and found the band in top form, with some of the best setlists imaginable, guest spots and, most notably, a number of covers.
Throughout the shows, the political climate between the Trump administration and Mexico remained central to the sets, despite Jim James and the band never directly addressing it until the end of the last show. Instead, the band used their songs and choice of covers to instill a deep sense of love, fear and empathy into the audience.
This was immediately apparent as the band opened the festival with a debut cover of “This Land Is Your Land,” using the female vocalists of Lucius as additional singers and Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a horn-laden backing. Though beginning somber and simplistic, the horn section brought the energy up to a practically celebratory feel by its end. (Worth noting: this was one night before Lady Gaga would choose the same song as part of her Super Bowl halftime show.)
Following the Guthrie tune with “I’m Amazed” was certainly no accident, the lyrics resonating with the band’s political opening.
“I’m amazed at the TV stations / I’m amazed what they want me to believe
After all is said and done / Where is the justice?”
The band would soon cover the Beatles’ classic “Here Comes The Sun” in an intentionally somber tone, rearranging the melody to the tune of Jacket’s own “Golden.” The slow but articulate ending phrase “it’s alright” felt like it was delivered with a question mark, transforming the message of the original entirely.
Yet the most political statement came with the band’s second headlining set, in a brilliant and painfully relevant cover of “Mother,” the tipping point of the plot of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Cheers erupted as James first sang, “Mother, should I build the wall?”
“Mother should I run for president?
Mother should I trust the government?
Mother, will they put me in the firing line?
Is it just a waste of time?”
Again utilizing Lucius as background singers, the song was performed in a straightforward manner, Carl Broemel’s exceptional guitar work leading its massive climax. Rarely throughout the weekend did the band get louder applause than the song’s finale.
“Mother, did it need to be so high?”
Later in the night, MMJ covered Prince’s “Sign O’ The Times,” its political message again not lost on the audience, seemingly addressing the strange turmoil of modern day America.
“Hurricane Annie ripped the ceiling of a church and killed everyone inside
You turn on the telly and every other story is tellin’ you somebody died
Sister killed her baby ‘cause she couldn’t afford to feed it and we’re sending people to the moon
In September my cousin tried reefer for the very first time, now he’s doing horse, it’s June
Times, Times / It’s silly, no?”
Yet, in typical Jim James fashion, the band ended on a positive note, bringing Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Lucius’s singers out again to close the night with a triumphant rendition of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love,” instantly creating a giant sing-along, the lyrics feeling like a necessary reminder after the heavier messages inserted throughout the sets.
By the band’s third headlining set, the audience was anticipating more relevant covers, the band still having hardly addressed the audience personally throughout the run.
After a heavily psychedelic set that didn’t feature political connotations, an extensive version of “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt. 2” quickly turned into a heavy and funky version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2,” the lyrics feeling like a conclusion to the jumbled emotions presented by the covers throughout the festival.
“We don’t need no education / We don’t need no mind control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom / Hey! Teachers! Leave those kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall”
The song was an easy highlight for the weekend, and a must-watch for music fans of any kind.
Unwilling to finish on anything but good vibes, the band then launched into a gorgeous rendition of Burt Bacharach’s “What The World Needs Now Is Love,” still joined by Lucius.
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No, not just for some, but for everyone”
James finally addressed the political climate directly following the song, emphasizing the importance of sharing love and acceptance in everyday life, before launching into the obligatory “One Big Holiday” finale.
Carefully curated and consciously crafted, the setlists at One Big Holiday reinforced the band’s dedication to peaceful and loving ideals while maintaining their position as amongst the best rock bands of our era.
Read the full setlists from My Morning Jacket’s headlining performances below.
1. This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie cover - with Lucius & Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
2. I’m Amazed
3. First Light
4. X-Mas Curtain
5. Spring (Among The Living)
7. Golden > (with Lucius)
8. Here Comes The Sun (Beatles cover - with Lucius)
9. Picture Of You
10. Steam Engine >
11. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd cover – with Lucius)
12. Master Plan
13. O Is The One That Is Real >
14. What A Wonderful Man
15. State Of The Art (A.E.I.O.U.) (Jim James cover)
16. Purple Rain (Prince cover – with Lucius)
17. Bermuda Highway (Jim and Carl only)
18. I Will Be There When You Die > Here Comes The Sun (reprise) (Jim and Carl only)
19. The Dark
20. Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt. 1 >
21. Cobra >
22. Dancefloors >
23. Phone Went West
24. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan cover – with Lucius, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Danny Clinch)
1. Tropics (Erase Traces)
2. Off The Record
3. Outta My System
4. It Beats 4 U
5. A New Life (Jim James cover)
6. You Never Can Tell (Chuck Berry cover – with Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
7. Night Time Is The Right Time (Ray Charles cover – with Lucius, Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
8. Easy Morning Rebel
9. Dondante > (with Lucius)
10. Mother (Pink Floyd cover – with Lucius)
11. Wonderful (The Way I Feel) (with Lucius)
13. Rebel Rebel (David Bowie cover – with Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
14. Run Thru
15. Wordless Chorus (with Lucius)
16. Holdin’ On The Black Metal (with Lucius and Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
17. Sign O’ The Times (Prince cover – with Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
18. Highly Suspicious (with Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
20. All You Need Is Love (The Beatles cover – with Lucius, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Danny Clinch)
2. Compound Fracture
3. Believe (Nobody Knows)
4. In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)
5. War Begun >
6. I Will Sing You Songs
7. The Way That He Sings
8. Heartbreakin Man
9. Easy (Commodores cover)
10. Evil Urges
11. Honest Man
12. Only Memories Remain
13. Father Figure (George Michael cover – with Lucius)
14. Lay Low
16. Victory Dance
17. Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt. 2 > (with Lucius)
18. Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 (Pink Floyd Cover – with Lucius)
19. What The World Needs Now Is Love (Burt Bacharach cover – with Lucius)
20. One Big Holiday