Words & Photos by Rod Snyder
I’ll start out by saying that I feel sorry for the rest of the fans attending shows on this winter tour, because I don’t know how it could be any better than this night in Philly! Maybe it was because the band had a few days off prior to the show, and was well rested and everyone was in good spirits, or the fact that they haven’t played the Wells Fargo Center since December 22, 2012 and they missed playing in Philly, rather than in Camden, NJ, where they usually play in June. Whatever the case, smiles a-plenty were being worn by each band member throughout the 2.5+ hour show.
While in the photo pit waiting for the band to take the stage, I was speaking with some of his dedicated fans and learned some came from as far away as Kansas City for this show. It’s always nice to be able to follow a tour around. I’ve done it myself. It’s a great experience if you get the chance to do it.
Finally, the lights dimmed and DMB came to the stage around 8:20. Dave was wearing his smirk, as only he can, and was checking with his band mates before starting into the opening chords of “One Sweet World”. It was a great warm up, but things in the kitchen really started cooking when they went into “Louisiana Bayou” – it’s such a great song that ends in a musical climax, and is sure to get the crowd roaring! There was nowhere else to go but up after this point.
DMB was in such great form, and despite the departure of Boyd Tinsley, the band as a whole made up for the missing sound, especially with the addition of keyboardist Buddy Strong to their live shows. They’ve had keyboard players in and out of their live sets throughout their career, and it always adds a nice touch. Buddy added some nice touches throughout the night and really blended well with the sound of the band.
After a few more songs, they started “Pantala Naga Pampa” which usually leads into “Rapunzel”, but not tonight. They changed things up a bit and went right into “Lie In Our Graves”, where Tim Reynolds took some liberties on his beautiful, Blonde Telecaster, while at the other end of the song, Buddy balanced Tim’s solo with a smooth, mellow groove. This was really the only extended jam of the night – there were other times the band would jam, but not at length like this. In my opinion, the show flowed much better this way. Having an extended jam in so many songs, gets boring after a while, plus you can fit more songs into a set!
Next, Dave & Co. covered the Talking Heads tune, “Burning Down The House”, which sounded fantastic and really packed a punch! “Can’t Stop” was next and Carter Beauford laid down some nice drums. This song has been played in their live repertoire since 2006, but only recently released on their latest album, “Come Tomorrow”, which was released in June of this year. It was during this song, I was reminded how pivotal a role Carter plays: his timing and style are so unique that you couldn’t have the Dave Matthews Band without him. Despite how talented the entire band is, you can’t replace him or his sound. It would be like trying to replace John Bonham in Led Zeppelin – they tried to fill his shoes after his death in 1980, but finally just decided to close the book on Led Zeppelin.
The setlist so far was shaping up to be epic, and then the band played “Say Goodbye”. I first saw the DMB in 1998, and I don’t think that I’ve ever managed to hear this song live. It’s a favorite of mine and was glad to finally cross it off my list. For “Again and Again”, Dave stood at the microphone, by himself, no guitar, just his vocals. It was weird seeing him stand there bare, no guitar in hand. He mentioned that singing and playing guitar can be difficult, so Tim took on all the guitar duties. This track is off the new album and it has a 70’s vibe to it, and at points it reminded me a little of Earth Wind & Fire. It features some slick guitar work from Tim and is complimented by Stephan’s bass and Carter’s drums.
The closing section of the set featured a bombastic version of “Don’t Drink the Water”, “Crash Into Me” and finally “Grey Street”, which had the stands shaking from all the people around me. The stage went dark for about 8 minutes, then the band emerged from the void and started into the gentle “Christmas Song” from their Remember Two Things record. As all things must come to an end, so did the show, but not without its pièce de résistance, “All Along The Watchtower”. They do such a great cover of this song, starting off slow and quiet, then head towards the apex of the song, but then take a sharp, right turn and play the closing section of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven”, before going back to ‘Watchtower’ and finishing the song.
For a band that has been around for close to close to 3 decades, these guys still sound fresh and show no signs of slowing down. Dave’s voice sounds as good as ever and the rest of the band follows suit. The band only has 4 more shows in the states, before heading out of the country in 2019. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area of the tour, make sure to see them now!
One weeet world
Do you remember
Pantala Naga Pampa
Lie in our graves
Burning down the house
Kill the preacher
Why I am
Again and again
Here on out
Don’t drink the water
Crash into me
All along the watchtower
TheWaster.com | Philadelphia