When My Morning Jacket played “Circuital” on their episode of VH1 Storytellers, frontman Jim James talked in almost spiritual tones about how the heat of recording conducted sound really well and made the recording sound great. Maybe it was really hot in the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon studio yesterday, too, because the band turned out not only a killer rendition of their single, but also one of the better-sounding musical performances we’ve ever seen on television.
Fallon’s staff deserves a bit of the credit: television performances are notorious for sounding bad (the audio equivalent of the old chestnut, “the camera adds ten pounds”), but somehow the band sounded as good as ever. Recently Billboard (in the May 28 print issue and an online supplement) and Pitchfork both ran features on the expanding role of late-night television in music promotion, especially for niche artists like My Morning Jacket. Both articles had kind words for Fallon’s music booker Jonathan Cohen. Judging from last night’s performance, the audio mixer needs some serious shine, too. It didn’t hurt that, even when it’s an open secret that musical performances get last billing because audiences are most likely to tune out, the show gave the band the full seven-plus minutes so they didn’t have to abbreviate the song or pick a different performance. The audience got the whole song—”greatest guitar solo of all time” (that’s Jim James on Storytellers again) and all.
Elsewhere on late night…
Conan: musical comedian Tim Minchin “Prejudice”
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: OneRepublic “Good Life”
The Late Show with David Letterman: Sheila E. (drum solo week)
Jimmy Kimmel Live!: Sara Bareilles, “Uncharted”
Lopez Tonight: Neon Trees “Your Surrender”
Last Call with Carson Daly: Mona, “Listen to Your Love”/The Knux, “She’s So Up” (rerun from March 25)