Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dave Matthews Band - April 15, 2009

Tax day - 2009. I was heading to the IZOD Center to see one of my favorite groups perform live, Dave Matthews Band. With the evilness of paying additional taxes behind me, I cut out of work early and my buddy Tim and I headed to the Giants Stadium parking lot for some food and beer before the show.

On the ride over, I put on some Dave, as I like to listen to a band before seeing them in concert. Tim immediately told me to turn it off. I gave him a funny look and asked why I would want to turn off Dave Matthews Band.

“Bad acoustics,” Tim explained.

Of course this left me baffled, so I needed further explanation. Apparently, Tim has a friend who swears by the fact that you do not listen to the band you are about to see on the day you will see them. His reasoning was that if listening to said band, their music will sit in the ear receptors, and it won’t be fresh. If, however, you listen to something totally different, then when you hear the music live that night, it will sound fresh and exciting, better. Hence, bad acoustics.

I wasn’t sure if I agreed with that argument or not, but it was a cool theory to kick around, so I turned off Dave Matthews and threw in some Ryan Adams. We talked for most of the ride to the arena anyway.

When we got to the parking lot, the tailgate fun kicked into high gear and we met up with Tim’s sister and her friends, who were also attending the concert with us. We discussed Dave Matthews Band, favorite songs, what we wanted to hear and how many times we had seen the band live. (It was going to be my third time for those of you keeping score at home). Tim’s sister broke the cardinal rule and put on Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Live at Radio City Music Hall and I laughed at Tim and sang along with the entire disc.

We skipped out on the opening act and went in about fifteen minutes before the band was set to take the stage. Although the album was delayed until June, I was interested in hearing the new songs from Big Whisky and the Groo Grux King. I knew they were playing a few of the new songs, and I was curious. I had only heard the lead single, Funny The Way It Is, and that left me hungry to hear more.

The lights went dark, the crowd went nuts, I screamed my head off, and Dave Matthews Band walked onto the stage. The opening notes of Bartender filled the arena and I applauded as loud as I could. Bartender is one of my favorites and I was so happy to hear it live, especially as the opener. The night had begun on a very high note.

Satellite followed, which was a nice surprise and performed well, and then the night really took off. For the third song of the evening, Dave Matthews Band pulled out Granny, a song that I absolutely adore and can’t get enough of. It was the first time that I was hearing it live and it was heaven. This was the type of moment that I lived for. I sang every word with all of my vocal power and had a big grin on my face during the entire performance.

Funny The Way It Is came a little later and was an impressive live performance. It was just as good as the studio version I had been listening to online; a great new song that I really got into that night. It has since become one of my favorites.

And that was only the beginning. Dave and the band went on to own the night. Boyd Tinsley was a genius on the violin. Carter Beauford was as happy as could be behind the drum kit. The addition of Rashawn Ross on trumpet and Tim Reynolds on guitar, added a depth to the music that was not there previously. They both enhance the stage presence and the live performance, rounding it out into a musical masterpiece.

The set list for the night was nothing short of excellent. In addition to Granny, Dave pulled out an astonishing cover of the Talking Heads Burning Down The House, and performed brilliant versions of You Might Die Trying, and Dancing Nancies.

Of course, the pot smoke was not absent from this concert. Once again, my seats were pretty high up, and the one thing I learned on that particular evening is that pot smoke rises. Surrounded by young pot heads and dancing college girls everyone was smoking the ganja and acting like fools. Of course the heavy hitters were seated right next to me, lighting up joints every third song. Midway through the concert, my stomach hurt and my mouth was dry. The joys of a DMB show.

Crush was a nice added surprise that came about midway through the performance. I had never really gotten into that song, but always appreciated it. After seeing it performed live, I appreciate it even more. The long, drawn out, slow groove folded into this song made it all worthwhile. This had to be a 14 minute version of Crush with the long, slow jam extended in the middle. Stefan Lessard’s bass line was kicking it that night, and I was really impressed with the live version of that song.

Corn Bread was excellent. Dave was in rare form, foot stomping around the stage and singing the lyrics in full force and with meaning. Dave made you believe. Tim’s slide guitar solo enhanced the song and was a standout point of the evening. This had always been a song that I admired, but after that concert, it has moved on to become one of my favorite DMB songs ever. Amazing.

Two Step closed out the main set and all I can say is wow! These guys do a phenomenal live version of this classic, and Carter Beauford really pulls it all together on the drums. His timing and rhythm is impeccable and it showed on that cold April night.

After Two Step Dave and the band exited the stage to thunderous applause. There was a long gap between leaving the stage and returning for the encore. I’m not sure what they were discussing backstage, but it took a good 10 minutes to get them back out there.

When they did return, I was disappointed. They chose The Maker as their first song of the encore, and it’s a song that I never liked and never got into. I laughed as the pot smoker next to me shouted, “This is what I waited that long for?” I had to agree with him, it was a poor encore choice.

DMB would make up for it with their next song, All Along The Watchtower. As usual, this was an amazing cover performed with brilliance. It never gets old and never ceases to amaze me how well they can play this song. It was a great way to close out the show and the sold out arena was very pleased. They showed their love with a standing ovation of appreciation for a beautiful performance. The night was amazing and one that wouldn’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Set List
Stay Or Leave
Funny The Way It Is
Burning Down The House
You Might Die Trying
When The World Ends
Corn Bread
Why I Am
Dancing Nancies
Grey Street
Two Step
The Maker
All Along The Watchtower

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