Dave Matthews Band
November 16, 2010
Dave Matthews Band rolled back into Atlanta on a recent Tuesday night for a curtain call of sorts. Though the outfit played in The Big Peach this past summer at Lakewood Amphitheater, shortly thereafter it was announced that the band would be on a touring hiatus of sorts that would last the length of 2011. For the encore Atlanta performance of the year, Dave and company would visit Philips Arena, a venue that is befitting for such a special occasion.
Atlanta has always supported Dave Matthews. From the early days of HORDE Festival to the present, the Dave-faithful residents of The ATL show up in droves anytime that he shows up in their town. Needless to say, both energy and expectations were high. These folks are not used to going any real length without the opportunity to see the South African born singer, musician, and songwriter.
After a call to action and a rousing set from New Orleans based brass phenom Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave., Dave made his way to stage to the piercing shrieks of his die hard faithful who were packed into the near capacity monstrosity that is Philips Arena. Maybe it’s because his energy packed shows or because DMB of the aforementioned hiatus, but regardless Dave always leaves his crowd satisfied.
In contrast to the last stop in town, this time around the show was not filled with popular cuts. Rather, deeper selections were pulled from the extensive archive of material of which Matthews possesses. It seemed that the intention was to play directly for the Dave veteran loyalists in the house. In so doing, the set list took the crowd on what felt like a road trip though a discography that went as far back as 1994’s Under the Table and Dreaming all the way to tunes off his newest album Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King.
The show opened with "Spaceman" and wound its way through "Pig," "Grey Street," and "Funny The Way It Is." What was perhaps most interesting was the demonstration of Matthews’ maturation in songs like "Grey Street," a song that was once improvised in its entirety with different lyrics at each stop wherein it was played. In contrast, the cut has now become something standard, composed, and disciplined. It also serves as evidence that Matthews is a true beneficiary and proponent of improvisational music, though he prefers to shirk the "jam band" label.
Trombone Shorty would rejoin the stage for a ripping rendition of the song that first placed Matthews on the national stage, "What Would You Say?" The rendition was heavy on both improvisation and seemless interplay between all parties on stage. It is moments like these where one can truly see the deep appreciation that Matthews has for his fellow musicians and that, although he has reached the highest spots on the charts, that he has absolutely no qualms about yielding the floor. Furthermore, the pairing of Shorty and Matthews on the same stage took the Atlanta crowd straight to the home of our Gulf brothers and sisters in New Orleans, a place which Matthews holds near and dear to his heart.
After a short break, Dave returned to the stage solo, guitar in hand, as has become customary. However, the song choice, Neil Young’s "Needle and The Damage Done," was anything but customary. The number was probably lost on some, but for those on which it was anything but, the response was one of heavy and chill inducing approval after the song about the destruction and havoc wreaked by addiction was played, and beautifully sung by Matthews.
The band would rejoin for the appropriate closer. "Last Stop." If nothing else, this song simply solidified Jeff Coffin as Matthew’s sax-man, and bore demonstration that although LeRoi Moore can and never will be replaced, Coffin has filled his shoes in a manner that few could, blazing solos as though he was on hand when the song was originally crafted. It was a splendid way to end an evening and potentially, an era.
Sing-alongs from the faithful were abound throughout the night. The gatherers, who at times took on the role of choir above that of crowd at multiple times throughout the evening, seemed to relish every last drop of music from the stage. This, in and of itself, was enough evidence to both demonstrate and support the fact that it is going to be a long wait for 2012 for a whole heap of fans. That said, it is sure to be well worth the wait.
What Would You Say (with Trombone Shorty), Pantala Naga Pampa