My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James lit up “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” on Monday with a performance of “A New Life,” the first single from his solo album “Regions of Light and Sound of God,” out today.
The performance begins with James alone, surrounded by darkness. By the end of the clip he’s joined by a cavalcade of musicians, including a full string section and, of course, The Roots.
It’s a wondrous, magical performance, like something out of a dream sequence of a movie. The song bursts with life, and the TV treatment its given helps bring out all its colors. At one point James floats from the front of the stage to the back, like a character in a Spike Lee movie.
A few great moments to watch for: Fallon, in silhouette, grooving in the background; the Roots’ ?uestlove switching his hair pick from one side of his head to the other, all while keeping the beat; the huge smile on the face of the string player who simply can’t hide her emotions. After watching this performance somewhere in the ballpark of 20 times already, I know how she feels.
This performance brought to mind some of the best clips to date on Fallon, and easily ranks in the Top 5 performances in the show’s history. I meant to include embedded clips of the best Fallon performances to date here (Springsteen doing “Death to My Hometown” with Tom Morello and the E Street Band; Rufus Wainwright doing “Minuit, Chrétiens”; R. Kelly performing “When a Women Loves”; Odd Future blowing minds with “Sandwitches”) but the copyright lawyers at NBC are diligent about taking clips off of YouTube. Cool move! Now no one can watch them!
But here’s another clip the James performance brought to mind: My Morning Jacket doing “One Big Holiday” on “Late Night With Conan O’ Brien” 10 years ago. Ten years! Also, LOOK AT THAT HAIR!