It’s a new year, we’re glad to be here … hopefully your hangover has subsided by now. I’ve seen some memorable NYE shows in NYC in recent years — the Strokes/GBV, DB-T, CYHSY, Dirty Projectors — but I don’t remember any as fun as this Jacket show sounds (well, maybe the Strokes). Celebrating at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, Jim James and Co. brought Nicole Atkins, Will Johnson, a horn section, and white tuxes to change into before the ball dropped. Their marathon set featured ten covers, including a final encore of “Auld Lang Syne” and two Kool & The Gang classics at midnight (“Get Down On It” was a hit at Bonnaroo last year, but this is their first stab at “Celebration” as far as I know [UPDATE: Ah, they did it last year, too.]). MP3s and video of balloon popping this way…

Consider booking them for your next wedding or Bar Mitzvah. This is what it looked like from the floor.

Audio recordings by Scott Bernstein via, where you can download the entire gig in MP3, Flac and Ogg. Pic via Michael Muse.

Here’s a stream:

1. Intro music (“What Are You Doing New Years Eve?”)
2. “Move On Up” (Curtis Mayfield)
3. “Evil Urges”
4. “Off The Record”
5. “Gideon”
6. “The Way That He Sings”
7. “Thank You Too”
8. “I’m Amazed”
9. “Golden” (w/ Will Johnson)
10. “Librarian”
11. “You’re All I Need” (Marvin Gaye) (w/ Nicole Atkins)
12. “Express Yourself” (Charles Wright)
13. “Wonderful Man”
14. “Lay Low”
15. “Phone Went West”
16. “Look At You”
17. “Dondante”
18. “Smoking from Shootin”
19. “Touch Me Part 2″
20. “Run Thru”
21. “The Wanderer” (Dion)
22. “Dancefloors”
23. “Magheeta”
[New Year's Countdown]
24. “Celebration” (Kool & The Gang)
25. “Get Down On It” (Kool & The Gang)
26. “Wordless Chorus”
27. “Highly Suspicious”
28. “Cobra”
29. “Islands In The Stream” (Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers) (w/ Nicole Atkins)
30. “Bring It On Home To Me” (Sam Cooke)
31. “Cold Sweat” (James Brown)
32. “Anytime”
33. “One Big Holiday”
34. “Auld Lang Syne”

See any good shows on NYE?

Comments (55)
  1. Zacra  |   Posted on Jan 3rd, 2009 0

    Fucking jealous.

  2. brian  |   Posted on Jan 3rd, 2009 0

    holy shit. 35 songs?

  3. Jim James' beard  |   Posted on Jan 3rd, 2009 0

    this show was SO FUCKING AWESOME!!! I wish I could relive it a million times over.

  4. johnnydaydream  |   Posted on Jan 3rd, 2009 0

    unbelievable concert.
    one of the best nights of my life.

  5. caleb  |   Posted on Jan 3rd, 2009 0

    Will Johnson is a patriot and a saint.

  6. Jon  |   Posted on Jan 3rd, 2009 0

    Holy shit, please tell me this show exists in better quality.

  7. Best part of the night was when Matt Pinfield introduced the band. Seriously, Matt Pinfield.

  8. saw all of the people flocking into this show, not sure what the big deal is around this band. I caught Amanda Palmer and Bowery and it was incredibly rad, I can’t imagine a better new years show.

  9. jboogie  |   Posted on Jan 3rd, 2009 0

    i always hate reading posts about concerts when everyone comments on how amazing it was and how jealous everyone should be… but in this case it was the most fun i’ve ever had at any concert. i seriously hope they try to do something like this every new year.

  10. pez dispenser  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

    fuckng dirty hippies.

  11. drose  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

    i cried

  12. bcatroux  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

    First off: I’m jealous. I was at the Justice show in Chicago which was amazing but would have LOVED to have seen MMJ. Secondly, they’re not dirty hippy music. That’s just plain ignorance. They’re an incredibly talented eclectic band that escapes categorization. Also, believe the hype, they DO deserve every praise they’ve been given within the last few years. Without a doubt, best band in the US.

    • trotskey  |   Posted on Jan 5th, 2009 0

      Hold on…sorry…can’t stop laughing…someone just said MMJ is the best band in the US…hahahahahahahaha

      Seriously though, MMJ is nowhere near the best band in the US. Have you ever heard of TV on the Radio?

      • Chris  |   Posted on Jan 6th, 2009 0

        Saying TV on the Radio is the best U.S. band is like saying The Kooks are the best British band. It’s just a very, very uneducated statement.

      • sure now that they are so hot right now and selling out MSG you can cover them, but what about 3 years ago when they were playing langerado? did you care then? no…

  13. bcatroux  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

    First off: I’m jealous. I was at the Justice show in Chicago which was amazing but would have LOVED to have seen MMJ. Secondly, they’re not dirty hippy music. That’s just plain ignorance. They’re an incredibly talented eclectic band that escapes categorization. Also, believe the hype, they DO deserve every praise they’ve been given within the last few years. Without a doubt, best band in the US.

  14. Wicked show! MMJ always put on a wicked stage show though. V. impressive group live.

  15. Coj  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

    If you ever wondered what happens when you get to heaven, that video looks a pretty accurate depiction; white balloons and confetti everywhere and an awesome band in stylish white tuxedos covering Kool and the Gang classics while everybody parties down.

  16. jj  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0 – the higher quality dl is a worthy experience

  17. One word: EPIC! When I see MMJ I know I’m going to hear One Big Holiday, Run Thru and Dondante, which all sounded incredible by the way, but those covers made the night. How can you not dance to Express Yourself and Get Down On it?!?! The duets between Nicole Atkins and JJ were incredibly sweet, also, she’s not too hard to look it.
    And I loved how so many ladies and gents got all fancied up for the occasion.

    Happy New Year!

  18. Corey  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

    FWIW, I’m pretty sure they did “Celebration” last NYE when they did “Careless Whisper” and “Highway to Hell”.

  19. see, this is why I hate living in cleveland. As soon as I graduate i’m finding a job in chi or nyc. Easy for me too, everyone needs an accountant.

  20. Thank you sir for that recording

  21. tom  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

    brooklyn vegan has some great shots of the night.

  22. david  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

    Isn’t this getting a little too close to Phish’s act? Raving about a killer MMJ set is one thing, but when the covers you play are all that anyone cares about, you’re going the wrong direction. BTW they released a shitty album last year. So keep polishing up a new set of covers for next year Jim.

    • barry  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

      Hmm . . . playing crazy covers on new years at MSG with balloons and confetti? How on EARTH could you possibly make a Phish comparison?

    • loser  |   Posted on Jan 5th, 2009 0

      I am a huge MMJ fan – I think Jim is one of the most talented musicians in the past few decades. i have been to many MMJ shows and plan to attend many more.

      I was also a Phish fan back in my grammar school/high school/college days – from like 1989-2001. I agree that this shtick is getting a little too close to the Phish routine. I am not saying covers cannot be fun, or good, or entertaining… Just that I was more hopeful when people where talking about the roaring rendition of “Steamengine” instead of the great “Celebration” cover.

      I understand this was NYE, so this kind of thing is expected, it just worries me a little because I kind of saw the same thing happen with Phish. Music was tight, shows were great, sound was unique – all of a sudden it was all about playing the theme song to M*A*S*H and you couldn’t get tickets because everybody and their younger sister wanted to go smoke up at the show.

      I realize there is a sense of entitlement to this post, but it is hard to see this happen to your favorite bands.

      FWIW, I thought Evil Urges was a great album – it just takes a little longer to appreciate. I think seeing them play it live helps a lot. I am still not too fond of a few tracks though.

  23. barnesy  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

    shitty album?? It was amazing!! They ran gamut of all kinds of genres and did it quite well, don’t know how you could not appreciate a band taking that kind of risk

  24. renaldo  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

    MMJ will outlast every bland made-of-yarn-and-brown-construction-paper boring indie facepaint and bloglove act that people jizz themselves over (for a day or two anyway) right now.
    Sure Evil Urges was a bit tepid in spots and uneven, but (for just one example) that overrated Frightened Rabbit record is so safe and samey (does the singer have any other notes or is it just the one?) and pre-approved for Chuck-wearing neckbearder consumption that everyone falls all over themselves to praise it. It’s the ultimate statement about how scared most hipster fucks are to color outside of the lines a bit. Fucking safe as milk. Or theres the meh new Animal Collective for those blogdorks that want to appear adventurous by listening to safe-with-the-sheen-of-exploratory meanderPop from some guys that have coasted way too far on rehashed Brian Wilsonisms and lazy kitchen-sinking masquerading as innovative layering.

  25. Everyone…


    Does Jim still use the inter-web?

  26. Spencer   |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

    The best concert I have ever been to with some of my best friends. MMJ will sorely be missed if they take time off to write another album in 2009 as per Jim James, but hopefully it results in something great.

    The covers of Celebration and Get Down on It to bring in the new year was a great touch to go with the party vibe that filled the air the entire night.

  27. Anonymous  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

    Great live band, but Evil Urges was by far one of the worst records of ’08. Balloons and funny covers are totally Phish’s NYE schtick – wish they had done something else. Would rather hear them play MMJ songs any day instead of the soul covers.

  28. Jordan  |   Posted on Jan 4th, 2009 0

    they played celebration, all night long and careless whisper along with highway to hell @ the fillmore in SF leading into ’07. show is on that was the night of the “oregon trail” theme……they may have gotten that idea from phish too, or maybe it was the beards

  29. My New Years resolution was to not listen to MMJ.

  30. i wish i was there!im dying to listen to evil urges live!

  31. Great concert man. unbelievable

  32. hizzo  |   Posted on Jan 5th, 2009 0

    they have played celebration before. good to see an article about the best band around right now though.

  33. JP  |   Posted on Jan 5th, 2009 0

    They played ‘Celebration’ at last year’s New Year’s Eve concert as well if I’m not mistaken. This concert was incredible.

  34. sonam_mcrgurl  |   Posted on Jan 6th, 2009 0 teacher went to see that show.. i’m in high school, btw.
    its pretty cool, na?

  35. BA  |   Posted on Jan 6th, 2009 0

    I never realized that idea of doing covers of other artists songs was invented by Phish. I guess Zeppelin was copying Phish when every night they would do a 20 min. cover medley during the middle section of Whole Lotta Love??? Or the whole structure of Blues music passing on from generation to generation, covering blues songs, i guess that was invented by Phish also?? No????? And i hope that Phish is getting royalties from every person who decides to use confetti and balloons on new years because without Phish that would have never happened. And to think that some people have the nerve to say Phish copied the Grateful Dead when it was clearly the Dead copying Phish when they would play new years shows and do covers and drop balloons on the crowd. Phish invented it all!!

  36. sbw2dk  |   Posted on Jan 6th, 2009 0

    So the indie-base is opposed to MMJ now? hmmm…A bunch of hipsters (sorry, “music fans”) turning on a band when they start to get some notice in Rolling Stone and selling some albums…that wasn’t predictable or cliche at all

  37. mateo  |   Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 0

    why do people still try to argue on the internet?

  38. wiggum220  |   Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 0

    I’m forecasting this as number 1 on “worst comments of the year list” but, fuck. You fucking hipsters. I think ditching a band as soon as they can play MSG makes YOU a sellout. It makes YOU a piece of shit. Go check out devandra barnhart in his intimate show in a dumpster while its still in, you fucking conformist pitchfork reading fuck.

  39. Shakin' It  |   Posted on Jan 8th, 2009 0

    I’m almost 100% sure that those covers were delivered without irony, unlike fish. And that’s because those songs are all awesome. There’s nothing funny about sam cooke or marvin gaye…although there is plenty of awesome associated with those two not to mention all the other artists they covered. But, having said that, i would’ve traded a couple of covers for some more rare MMJ songs. Can’t have it all, i guess. Oh, and MMJ are better songwriters than fish ever were or will be. Maybe not as skilled at their instruments, but the songs are more engaging.

  40. Drew  |   Posted on Jan 9th, 2009 0

    Honestly, this show sounds like it was great. But it doesn’t seem like it was all that better than their 4 hr bonnaroo performance, which included pretty much the same setlist and covers. Plus, being front row didn’t hurt. Anybody else with me on that?

  41. Grinch83  |   Posted on Jan 9th, 2009 0

    Shitty album? Evil Urges is rocking! One of the best albums of the year. What really stands out about it is that they touched on so many different genres of music on ONE album! It shows that these guys not only have talent, but aren’t afraid to step into new territory. You, David, just don’t have any musical chops whatsoever. Good luck in the accounting world. And could you send me your Fall Out Boy album? Thanks

    PS. I was at the show and it was nothing like a Phish gig. Epic!

  42. Jake Foette  |   Posted on Jan 11th, 2009 0

    Please, please, please do not compare these guys to Phish. Phish couldn’t write great songs and they are for smelly hippies who couldn’t find anything else to do after Garica died. MMJ are a great live band who also know how to write great songs instead of silly long winded jams that have no point.

  43. daryl  |   Posted on Jan 22nd, 2009 0

    Just listen to the music . That’s all you have to do. Keep it simple. The muic is very good , the band is very good. The concert is a really good thing to listen to. —–
    all good in these times , be nice , stay positive – STEAM ENGINE – WOW ,especially impressive concert recording. (and I’m not biased because i’m from Hike’s Point(Imy 1st concert was Elvis in 1975 -Freedom Hall- I was 11 yrs old.Did the Styx,Heart, Ted Nugent,Foreiner, U2, Etc…) keep your mind & heart open.

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