West Valley City • My Morning Jacket brought animal magnetism to the USANA Amphitheatre Thursday night, no easy task considering they were in the direct path of an August sun.
Then Wilco’s poetic lyrics and experimental brand of folky rock played that sun into the horizon.
Old soul Ryan Bingham, an Oscar winner for “The Weary Kind” from the film “Crazy Heart,” kicked off the AmericanaramA festival with style.
But when Bob Dylan planted one foot on each side of the mic and sang, “I’m sick of love/but I’m in the thick of it,” he showed this old man can still teach the kids a thing or two.
Wearing a gold-trimmed suit and black-and-white shoes, Dylan performed a 90-minute set of up-tempo versions of classics like “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Desolation Row” and “She Belongs to Me.”
For the AmericanaramA show, Dylan put together a lineup of some of the best acts in rock’s current roots moment, headliners in their own rights.
Highlights included MMJ’s Jim James pacing the stage with a purple Sgt. Pepper coat buttoned around his neck, shamanlike, for a rendition of “Victory Dance” and a gorgeous guitar solo by Wilco’s Nels Cline.
With a lineup like this, you might expect some epic mash-ups. There was a fun MMJ-led cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart,” and the band later joined Wilco for a version of The Beatles’ trippy “Tomorrow Never Knows.”
But the topper was definitely when Dylan brought Jones, Bingham and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy together for The Band’s “The Weight.”
After all, what’s more Americana than taking a load off Fanny (or Annie, depending on your ear)?
Even the amphitheater’s ashy-colored interior seemed to go with the rough-hewn quality of the music.
The show itself actually could have used a little more freewheeling improvisation — it was perhaps just a little too smooth. But that’s a minor quibble on a Thursday night in Utah under the stars.