Shortly after releasing their eight studio album, Away From The World, Dave Matthews Band announced and embarked on a winter tour of North America. Their first stop was two nights at the IZOD Center in New Jersey. As a huge fan of the band I was not missing a Friday and Saturday night with DMB at an arena that close to my home. Naturally I purchased a ticket for each night. I knew the concerts were going to be spectacular and filled with a lot of new music, but I had no idea just how special the first night was going to be.
Jimmy Cliff opened both nights and I was curious to see him live. I knew him mostly because of his amazing cover of “I Can See Clearly Now,” and I was obviously looking forward to hearing that song live. I was also interested in seeing the rest of his performance and hopeful that other songs would catch my ear.
And while I really didn’t know any of his other songs, Jimmy Cliff put on a good performance. As expected, “I Can See Clearly Now” was performed, about halfway through his set, and the crowd loved it (as did I). The rest of his performance was decent as well. I was impressed by the time he was done and was looking forward to seeing him open again the next night.
After a short break and stage set up, Dave Matthews Band walked out to the roar of the New Jersey crowd and began the night with “Broken Things” the opening track from Away From The World. It was the first time the band ever performed it live and it brings much joy to know that I am one of the few that got to witness its live debut. “Belly Belly Nice” followed much to my delight. At the time it was my favorite song from Away From The World and I was ecstatic to hear it live. It was nice to see the band open with two songs from the new album, but little did I know they were only getting started.
As the night went on, the band mixed in classics with new songs from the album. “Mercy,” “Out of my Hands,” “Gaucho,” and “Sweet” all got their time in the spotlight. “The Riff” was given an exceptional performance and I could tell the band was still working out the jam for that song. I knew it would progress as the tour went on, but it was fun to witness its infancy performance. After “The Riff” Dave broke out a ukulele and gave a solo performance of “Belly Full.” It was a quiet and intimate performance. And while “Belly Full” is not one of my favorite DMB songs, it was interesting seeing Dave with a ukulele.
“If Only,” “Rooftop,” and “Drunken Soldier” were all played before the end of the set, leaving just one song from the new album unperformed. “All Along The Watchtower” closed the main set and the band disappeared behind the stage to set up for the encore.
The encore opened with “The Space Between” and then the only song left to perform from Away From The World was played. A brilliant version of “Snow Outside” was given to the crowd and I was extremely happy. The band had just subtly performed their new album in its entirety for the opening night of the tour. To my knowledge, this is the only time Dave Matthews Band performed any album in its entirety at a concert. A thrashing “Two Step” would end the evening, but the real treat was already given to us.
Having seats somewhat close to the stage, I waited as the band took their bows and said their goodbyes, because I knew the infamous Carter Beauford drumstick toss was coming. I was hopeful that maybe I would get my hands on a drumstick this time around. As Carter made his way to our side of the stage, I was up, jumping, and waving my arms, as were a few other fans in front of me. Carter pointed at us with the stick and tossed it as far as it would go. I watched the drumstick sail through the air, heading toward me, and my heartbeat quickened. This was it! I was getting a drumstick! As the excitement and euphoria washed over me, I leaned forward with both arms outstretched anticipating my moment of the victorious catch only to watch the drumstick land two rows in front of me. It was promptly swept up by another fan. So close! I was once again forced to leave a show without a drumstick in my collection. Perhaps one day…
Belly Belly Nice
Don’t Drink The Water
Out Of My Hands
All Along The Watchtower
The Space Between