Written by: Zen Wild
Photography by: Tony Vasquez of Vasquez Photography
Photo Gallery: JJ Grey & Mofro
We enter The Vogue, in Indianapolis, a bit late, but we get there in time to catch the tail end of The London Souls’ set. It’s amazing. I love their sound. Incredible lead vocals, and guitar work by Tash Neal, and tight jams, made tighter by the solid groove coming from Chris St. Hilaire on drums. I love big bands, but the simplicity put forth by hard-rocking bands like this make a person recall what is truly rock and roll. I’d love to catch The London Souls again, seeing their entire set. If you’re a person, who happens to be out there reading this, I’d suggest that you do the same. Get online. Check the tour. They’re probably coming to a town near you, and if not, who doesn’t like a little road trip to hear some good music?
I’d never seen JJ Grey with Mofro before tonight, having only caught him as part of the Southern Soul Assembly’s tour last year, which was great, but I’ve been a longtime fan, and I can’t fully express how excited I am to catch him with his usual band this evening. Their music is, simply put, incredible. There are so many different genres that seem to be a part of their sound. It could be so easy for a person to casually classify them as southern rock, but when you break down the pieces, you find so many influences that come out. Categorization is not so cut and dry. They are filled with blues, rock, soul, funk, country, and gospel. When the music comes pouring out, numerous sounds come to the forefront. As I stated before, their music is incredible.That’s true, even more so, when it’s presented live and in-person. Songs, that were once only four minutes long, become extended jams that might last even a quarter of an hour. It really depends on how the band is feeling about it, and how the crowd is receiving it. I doubt any crowd, in the right mindset, wouldn’t want to see the songs they love extended.
Speaking of the crowd, tonight, The Vogue is packed. It’s always a standing-room-only affair coming here, but this evening, a person could be hard pressed to find a spot to stand that doesn’t make him feel like a sardine in a tin. Along the main-floor bar, the wings, and in front of the stage, rivers of people are standing, or sitting, and swaying to the music. Up above, in the balcony, a small amount of breathing room can be found, but it’s fairly full, as well. I don’t think anyone really minds. They’re all here for the same reason: to watch JJ Grey and Mofro get down! For that, you can pack me in like that sardine in a tin, and I won’t mind a bit.
When the band hits the stage, they get a warm welcome from the stage announcer and a roar of approval from the crowd. JJ Grey speaks for a second, letting the fans know how glad they are to be back in Indianapolis, and before you know it, we’re all immersed in the beautiful music! All the sounds come streaming in, from guitars, bass, drums, trumpet, saxophone and organ. A wide array of instruments that reflect the diversity and depth of the music.
Tonight, the band delves into numerous tracks that run the gamut of their catalog, slipping in several tracks off their newest album, Ol’ Glory. Earlier in the day, before coming to the show, I listened to Orange Blossoms, so I’m incredibly pleased to hear a few tracks off that album, including the title track and “Everything Good Is Bad.” Those are two tracks I definitely love off one of my favorite JJ Grey & Mofro albums. “Everything Good Is Bad” happens to be the last song of the set, prior to the encore, and both it and “Brighter Days,” earlier in the set, receive some special extended treatment. They aren’t the only songs to be stretched out, but both of them seem to last and last. No complaints from the audience, myself included. Throughout the night, solos are passed back and forth amongst the band. It’s absolutely brilliant, and a joy to behold! It just makes a person wish the concert could continue to be stretched out, like the songs the band is playing.
Eventually, the show does end, but before they call it a night, the band comes back on stage and graces us with an encore of a few lengthy jams. It’s a great night, and I’m glad that I got the chance to be here. Whenever JJ grey and Mofro come back around, at whatever venue they’re playing, I imagine you’ll probably find me there, too.