Live Review: Jim James – Rough Trade, NYC

When Jim James announces a secret, intimate venue show the day before, the hopes are set high for the new batch of tunes that he’s set to release at the end of June. The post went viral, and the show sold out immediately after tickets went on sale. Without divulging too much, let’s just say that I wasn’t the only one in the audience who was mesmerized by hearing Uniform Distortion live for the first time ever, weeks before the album comes out.

Jim and his band began the night with Just A Fool, the first single on the upcoming record, which a lot of fans were already singing along too because of its undeniably catchy, memorable lyrics and melody. The ending dual guitar solo jam truly kicked off the energy and set the mood for the rest of the night. Next they played You Get To Rome, which bring back all of the My Morning Jacket upbeat positivity that hooked fans onto Jim James in the first place. Out Of Time featured some heavy guitar jams and tempo changes that kept the listeners sucked in to the music throughout the song.

Throwback came next, and just as the title of the song hints, it brings to mind similar sounds and styles of My Morning Jacket. Afterwards, the band performed No Secrets, which begins with a dark, edgy electric guitar riff that sets a low energy mood. The song gains excitement towards the end where Jim absolutely rages on guitar. The set got an upbeat jolt during Yes To Everything which features James’ silly, simple lyrics and more positivity than the song before.

The next two songs were No Use Waiting and All In Your Head which both provided a lot of dynamic rhythm, tempo and energy level changes. Better Late Than Never is a deep track on this album, and even though it doesn’t reveal itself until the end of the record, it has every characteristic of a top hit. The second to last song, Over And Over, was memorable because of its sing a long vibe and immediately exciting melody. The set closer of the night was Too Good To Be True, which served as a fitting end to a set of music that won’t be released for a few weeks.

After performing Uniform Distortion in its entirety, Jim and his band came back on stage to perform a four song encore set of older songs. He began with a stripped back, electric version of Here In Spirit and then played an upbeat version of A New Life. To end the night he jammed into Same Old Lie and left the audience wanting more at the very end with State Of The Art.

Jim James remains one of the most exciting acts to see in live music today and hearing his new album live a month in advance will stand out as one of the greatest musical highlights of the year.

Scott J. Herman