—By Ryan Ledesma
I’m going to start right off with it; go to this show! If you have the chance to see JJ Grey and Mofro live, do it, you won’t regret it. They captivated audiences all over the world with their unique blend of southern swamp/rock and soul-filled funk sounds, and they did not disappoint last Wednesday night at the Pageant in Saint Louis.
From the moment Grey walked onto the stage, I could feel the energy from the crowd. And you could tell he felt it too, he was feeding off of it. He was having fun from the beginning of the show, letting the crowd hang on his every move. JJ was their king. One fan remarked before the show that while his following isn’t the biggest, they are like a cult, some of the most loyal fans you will ever meet.
He started off the set with one of the groups’ classics “Six Ways to Sunday” going way back to their 2004 album Lochloosa, setting up the show and not just a promotion for their 2015 album Ol’ Glory.
In fact, they played very few songs from their latest record, really pulling from the archives to play some of the classics, like “Ho Cake”, “Country Ghetto”, and “Brighter Days” from their 2001 release Blackwater. They seamlessly blended the old tracks with newer ones like “Sweetest Thing” (Georgia Warhorse, 2010), “Orange Blossoms” (Orange Blossoms, 2008), and “Every Minute” (Ol’ Glory, 2015).
As the show went on, the energy of the whole venue grew exponentially, with solos getting wilder and the sounds got more raw, which connected with the crowd. The show climaxed with a wild ride of solos during “Ho Cake”, lasting what had to have been at least 15 minutes.
If you need one song to sum up the powerhouse that is JJ Grey and Mofro, that really encapsulates their unique sound, I would say listen to “Ho Cake”, and a live version if you can. He really channels his inner James Brown, but while singing about how much he loves “catfish and popcorn shrimp”, I feel like that is really the best description of the group.
Grey brought the show to a close with the slow, soul-filled, “I Believe (In Everything)” and it was the perfect way to close out the set and finish off the perfect story arc of a show that they just put on.
After a bit of cheering, they came back out to play a two song encore. Starting with the crowd pleaser “This River” and closing out with “Ol’ Glory”.
I went into this show not entirely sure what to expect, but JJ Grey and Mofro exceeded all my expectations and I’ll be keeping an eye out for them coming through town again.
Someone else to keep an eye on is opening act Parker Millsap. He grabbed my attention right from the start with his passionate and heartfelt rendition of the classic southern blues song “You Gotta Move” (I highly recommend you give it a listen). Playing a mixture of southern blues, and country/americana, he definitely gained a whole lot of fans that night, myself included.
JJ Grey and Mofro Set List
JJ Grey and Mofro Setlist:
Six Ways to Sunday
Lazy Fo Acre