It was 40 minutes into My Morning Jacket’s Pinewood Bowl show Tuesday when singer Jim James spoke to the crowd.
“Thank you for coming out here to spend the night with us in summer camp in the woods,” Jones said. “Doesn’t it feel like summer camp in the woods?”
Well, only if that camp has an amphitheater, a stage full of instruments and amplifiers, a well-designed lighting set up and a couple really good bands to play something other than “Kumbaya.”
By the time Jones made his first comments, MMJ had played eight songs, leading into the brief talk with the psychedelic riff rock of “Holdin’ on to Black Metal” and the echoing, acoustic guitar meets cascading piano of “Circuital.’
After came the dark ballad “The Bear” and the night’s biggest surprise, a very cool, reverent cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”
In all, MMJ played 21 songs in 2 1/2 hours, closing with an encore that began with “Victory Dance” and ended with a powerful version of “One Big Holiday.” Those songs were suggested by concert goers, part of the band’s “Spontaneous Curation” tour.
I’m not sure exactly how spontaneous the MMJ sets are. But the Lincoln set list was far different than Monday’s in Kansas City and certainly a departure from the 3 1/2 show MMJ played at Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Friday.
I mention Red Rocks because I heard Pinewood Bowl compared to that spectacular venue Thursday. There are no mountain vistas in Pioneers Park. But that compliment echoed much of what I heard from concert goers who were experiencing Pinewood for the first time.
Tuesday’s concert was the first general admission show at Pinewood. The crowd of 3,000 plus filled the lower half of the bowl. That means, among other things, that the 4,800 who have purchased tickets for the sold-out Mumford & Sons concert on Aug. 20 will have plenty of room.
Again, there appeared to be no problems with traffic, parking, entering the venue, etc. After three shows, Pinewood seems to be working as a superb venue as predicted by promoters before the concert series began.
Back to the show. MMJ’s oft dense, reverb-laden music can be majestic, uplifting and tight or sprawl into jams that turn songs into overly long affairs -- at least one passed the 10-minute mark Tuesday.
But that’s just what fans want to hear and they got plenty of it Tuesday.
Band of Horses opened the show with a 50-minute set of country-inflected rock ‘n’ roll. The Seattle-gone-to South Carolina band opened the set with a pair of new songs from their forthcoming album “Mirage Rock” and then cranked out familiar tunes from their first three records.
Band of Horse was very impressive at its first Nebraska show. Here’s hoping it won’t be its last.