Monsters of Folk finesse Orpheum

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Photo by Jeff Luke
Upon hearing the eponymous release from Monsters of Folk, I feared that the gimmick wouldn't last; I feared that again a group had been formed that could never surpass the greatness of each member's other projects. And if you've been keeping up with their press it appears that the correlations to their older cousin, the Traveling Wilburys, might be a bit much to live up to. If all you ever had was the album to listen to, then yes, this would be just another mediocre "supergroup" of indie rockers, but to hear them live was a whole 'nother story.

For nearly 3 hours and 30+ songs, this foursome of Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Mike Mogis (producer, Bright Eyes), Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), and M. Ward (She & Him) let loose their inner demons on stage, cooked up some of the best ballads of their own and produced more goosebumps than I've felt at a show in some time. 

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Photo by Jeff Luke
M. Ward
The Orpheum certainly was the best venue for the band to perform and before the night was through it felt as if they had inhabited the space, bringing with them spirits of music's past. All the members were decked out in seersucker style suits (Ward especially dapper in a three-piece) and for most of the evening their music matched their presence. Seamlessly moving from their new album and their individual works, all five artists on stage continually rotated between instruments with Oberst, Ward, and James each taking their turn on bass and keys when not playing acoustic and electric guitars.

It was evident from the start who wrote most of the songs and which members truly are the back bone of the band,  Ward and James. Not only do they lead most of the bands songs, but also had a larger chunk of the set-list devoted to their individual songs. Jim James' solo performances of his older MMJ songs were nothing short of breathtaking, performing pitch perfect renditions of "Golden," "I Will Be There When You Die," and "Bermuda Highway" (amongst others), and M.Ward brought great stomping songs from his recent albums such as "Vincent O'Brien" and "To Save Me."

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