Show Review: Jim James At Johnny Brenda’s

It has been an amazing few days for shows…yesterday I shared my review and photos from the Haim and Mumfod & Sons show in Camden on Saturday night, and Monday night after work I made my way to Johnny Brenda’s to see one of my favorite artists ever, Jim James. Words can’t really express my feelings about this.  Jim James is the lead singer and creative force behind the band My Morning Jacket, who have long been a favorite of mine.  To see him in such a small, intimate venue was an opportunity I probably won’t have again.  Johnny Brenda’s is a popular bar and music venue located in Philadelphia’s fishtown neighborhood, and holds no more than 250 people. The show sold out in about a minute, and on Monday night it held 250 people who were there to see one of their favorite performers. Everyone who managed to get in seemed to feel truly grateful and appreciative, and it felt really special to be in that room.

You could hear the crowd’s anticipation as the clock struck 9pm and the lights dimmed, and the man of the hour took the stage.  Opening with the first track off his new album (read our review of the album here) State Of The Art (A.E.I.O.U.), and the crowd was completely enrapt until the music stopped.  One of the reasons people love Jim James so much is that he’s an incredible performer. He dances around the stage, picks up various instruments (including the saxophone last night, which I hadn’t seen him play before), sometimes one of those instruments being his voice contorted to mimic instruments, shakes his wild mane of hair and leads the room like a musical shaman. The show included mostly songs off of his album Regions of Sound and Light and God but then he treated his die-hard MMJ fans to an encore that included “Wordless Chorus,” “It Beats 4 You” and “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream, Pt. 2” –  an incredible song live with its chorus “this feeling it is wonderful…don’t you ever turn it off.”  The final song of the night was “Victory Dance,” off of Circuital, a fitting end to the night indeed. At the end of the show the crowd seemed awestruck, and no one wanted to leave – everyone stayed rooted in their spots well after the post-show music had come back on, hoping for more.   Luckily we’ll have a chance to catch him again in Philly when he stops by Union Transfer in April – view all of his tour dates here!

jim james johnny brendas

To give you an idea of the size of the venue…this is it, plus a small balcony upstairs.

jim james johnny brenda's

jim james johnny brendas

jim james johnny brendas

jim james johnny brendas

jim james johnny brendas

More indie music from the BLDG 25 Blog.

Photos by Julia.

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Gina B
7 years ago

Julia-I went last night in NYC (Brooklyn) and I have the exact same feelings about the show and about Jim as you do. I could see MMJ or Jim at least once a month and it still wouldn’t be enough. Myself and my fellow die-hard MMJ loving friends went and we were blown away (as usual). What a treat to have Jim solo and get some MMJ-Tom even came out and played with him (while Questlove was watching from the side of the stage-Jim’s new biggest fan!) I’m happy to read about your musical interests and reviews…we have similar taste!

7 years ago

Wordless Chorus*

7 years ago

That last black and white photo is absolutely amazing!