GRAND PRAIRIE -- Taken apart, the outstretched arms, extended guitar solos and prophetic lyrics would just be pretentious. Put it together as My Morning Jacket has, and you get acolytes.
"Fans" seems too small a word to describe the few thousand that came out Saturday night through the rain to Verizon Theatre to feel the bass. This band is fated (doomed?) to stay on the road; it's headed straight to forever-touring, jam-band territory.
But, at least at first glance, they might be a little different. Though there were plenty of like hairstyles, there was no smell of patchouli in the venue. This crowd is a button down-, comfortable shoe-wearing bunch: Buffett's crowd with the fervor of Deadheads. That's not to say the acolytes didn't rock out, from the first song to the last. This crowd was present for every note. They just played it cool, much like a hair-flipping, trench coat and shades-wearing lead everything Jim James.
James and the tight crew lobbed an easy one over the net and began with the thumping bass of "Circuital." Two songs in and James changed guitars to one that reflected light over the crowd in the pit for a swampy and well-received "First Light."
By "Off the Record," I kept looking for a Beyonce-like wind machine (that hair!) but there was just a stuffed bear to James' left, the only thing not moving in the place. "Record" came really close to the theme from Hawaii Five-O at times, but that's just fine. There are worse jams to ape.
Eric Johnson of Fruit Bats came out for a collaboration on his band's "Wild Honey." James furthered his stamp of approval for his opening act, saying "If you're not familiar with Eric's work, it will change your life. Check it out."
James' tastes are eclectic and it shows in his own music, which jumped from the swampiness of "First Light" to the '70s power balladry of "Thin Line" to the blue-eyed soul of "War Begun" to the bombast of "In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)." When James isn't wailing, his guitar is: It knocked heads off with that and then put them back on so they could bob to Believe "(Nobody Knows)."
Every song was meant to stir souls, but the one that hit the mark was not even theirs: a cover of The New Basement Tapes' "Quick Like a Flash."
Everyone might have been just saving energy for the inevitable encore. "Wordless Chorus" from 2005 was anything but as the rabble joined in. That song gained many fans after it and "Touch Me, I'm Going to Scream, Part 2" were featured on an episode of Fox TV's American Dad in which the main character's life is transformed after hearing James' voice.
That voice, deeper in execution and not quite as slick on record, nevertheless went otherworldly more than once, notably with "Touch Me" and with the help of his congregation on "Wordless Chorus." It could have been seen as mocking until you noticed the upturned faces and the hair karoake.
The four-song encore ended as the concert started, with another communal head bob. This time, it was for an oldie, "One Big Holiday," from It Still Moves (2003).
If psychedelia makes a strong comeback, My Morning Jacket can be satisfied that they've done their part. Because in their hands, reverb lives.