September 20th, 2007
by Mark Manley,
Intricate, eclectic and smooth, the latest Dave Matthews album, "Live at Radio City Music Hall," could be one of the best albums you buy this year.
Matthews pairs up again with Tim Reynolds in his latest solo release for a very distinctive listen. Reynolds accounts for much of this undeniably different touch through his virtuoso guitar accompaniment and rambling forays into ambient sounds.
He sometimes strays from the bounds of the typical tonal music that most people are accustomed to and enters into a strange experimental zone - leaving the listener a little perplexed and uncomfortable. Thankfully these moments don't last long, but they leave a lasting impression.
The great chemistry between Matthews and Reynolds is impressive. Matthews gives a great vocal performance, nailing both falsettos and screams in well-known songs like "Crash Into Me" and "Don't Drink the Water." Meanwhile, Reynolds keeps up a subtle, ornate background - an accompaniment that pleases but does not distract.
This album has an interesting mix of songs, contrasting starkly with "Live at Luther College," another collaboration with Reynolds. While "Live at Luther" had many of the songs that are Dave Matthews Band staples, "Live at Radio City" shies away from tunes like "Ants Marching" and "Warehouse." The album instead favors less commercial tracks. "Radio City" is filled with the likes of "Still Water," "So Damn Lucky," "Stay or Leave," and "Lie in Our Graves," which should please the more hardcore Daveheads.
There are plenty of familiar songs on the album, too. The album's 26 songs leave plenty of room for Matthews to include "Gravedigger," "Don't Drink the Water," "Crash Into Me," "#41," and "Two Step." These songs are spread throughout in an even mix, with a slight concentration toward the end.
In between some songs, Matthews connects with the crowd. Sometimes he is funny and sometimes he is serious. When he tries to make the crowd laugh, he is successful only about half the time.
Matthews talks seriously about the war in Iraq. He does not reveal his personal convictions about the war, instead he focuses on the need to unite and find a common direction, in a non-confrontational tone. Overall, Matthews does an average job with talking to the crowd.
One of the main problems with this album is that it tends to cater to the more selective audience of Daveheads. Many of the songs on the album indeed will not draw a more casual fan to buy this album, but even so "Live at Radio City" is very enjoyable and worth the money.