Dave Matthews Band commands Smirnoff crowd with favorites

August 20th, 2006

By MATT WEITZ - The Dallas Morning News

c082006.gifThere are a lot of bands that were red-hot 10 years ago, but few have managed as comfortable a transition to elder statesmen status as the Dave Matthews Band.

JUSTIN COOK/DMN Dave Matthews' theatrical vocals and spidery acoustic guitar playing were just part of the drama that earned thunderous approval from the sold-out audience on Saturday.

That was apparent Saturday night at DMB's sold-out show at Smirnoff Music Centre. From the very first notes of "Best of What's Around" (from the group's name-making 1994 release Under the Table and Dreaming), it was clear that the crowd was inclined to greet Dave's every grunt and smirk with a thunderous wave of adulation.

That's cool: After all, few groups have managed the cohesiveness of the Dave Matthews Band, from Mr. Matthew's theatrical soul-man haaaar-uuughhhn vocal stylings and spidery acoustic guitar playing to the almost willful multiculti influences of saxophonist Leroi Moore and violinist Boyd Tinsley.

As the band charged through numbers like "The Song That Jane Likes" (dedicated to Mr. Matthews' sister) and "Say Goodbye," it became clear that the crowd was 100 percent in Dave's corner. They even seemed to appreciate the drum solo that kicked off the latter song – and answered the perhaps unasked question, "Does a free-form flute solo by Mr. Tinsley make a one-man drum performance any less tedious?"

That response, is, alas, "No," although few other moments begged the crowd's indulgence quite so aggressively. For the most part, the Dave Matthews Band was a pure crowd-pleasing machine.

Songs like "You Might Die Trying," from the group's most recent album, Stand Up, highlighted the more socially conscious direction the band's music's been heading.

But in the end, it's still about the power and drama of live performance, and numbers like "Break Free" and "Crash Into Me" had all of the drama required to get the crowd cheering and on its feet.

And the evening was a real reminder of how the energy of 20,000, as opposed to five, can lift a show into a rock 'n' roll party. Whether you were slipping in spilled beer, fighting with your girl (or boy) friend or just passed out on the lawn – let alone enjoying the show – it was clear that this was one of those "Were you there?" type evenings.

And if you weren't, unfortunately, reading this will have to suffice.

 

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