Monsters of Folk @ Commodore -- 10/13/09

The combined forces of Conor Oberst & Mike Mogis (of Bright Eyes), M. Ward (of She & Him and, uh, M. Ward) and Yim Yames (aka Jim James of My Morning Jacket), Monsters of Folk start their North American Tour last night at the Commodore. With the help of drummer and all around multi-instrumentalist Will Johnson, they played a sprawling set spotlighting all the bands.

Without an opening band they hit the stage, all suited up, a little after 8pm (the show was originally supposed to be at the Orpheum, so I guess they kept the same times) and played for damn near three hours. Playing not just Monsters of Folk tunes, but also songs from each artists respective band/solo catalogues. Members were on and off stage and they played just about every possible combination they could. Oberst and Ward, Ward and Yames, Yames and Oberst; most of the set, however, was the full five members out. There was no way I could have kept track of the setlist, but some of the highlights were, on the Monsters side, "Man Named Truth", "Slow Down Jo", and pretty much every song with Yames. They were best, however, when they worked in harmony with each other. Not just the MoF songs that had them all singing, but when they backed up each others songs. The three of them have pretty different voices but they manage to blend them together beautifully.
They "ended" with the awesome "Losin' Yo' Head", which came to an epic, climactic finish, but then were back out soon enough for the encore, which was one song from each artist, then ended with the last track of the MoF album, "His Master's Voice".

I have one minor complaint about the show, though, and that would be what seemed to be the lack of My Morning Jacket songs. True, Yames & MMJ are my favourite of the four members of the band, so maybe it just my perception, but what was definitely sad was that almost all the MMJ songs selected were older ones. There was only one song played from their newest album, Evil Urges ("Smokin From Shooting") and none from the one prior to that, Z. I suppose I can understand, as the older MMJ songs fit better into the rest of the show, stylistically. I just can't quite imagine them going from Slow Down Jo to Highly Suspicious. But still...

Ultimately, it was an incredibly show, which did the following four things for me:
Made me appreciate the album even more than I already did.
Made me actually like Oberst and Bright Eyes songs, which I was kind of apathetic about before tonight.
Made me realize I need more M. Ward in my collection.
Made me sad that My Morning Jacket has still not been here for a concert in all the time I have been listening to them.