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Matthews gives American ideal voice

August 12th, 2006

By CHARLES PASSY - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

081206.jpgI hear America singing. Or is that just Dave Matthews?

Actually, it's sometimes hard to tell the difference. When Matthews and his band are on — that is, when they're deep inside the music rather than skimming its jam-oriented surface — they represent a kind of American ideal: democratic in spirit, multiracial in composition and eager to explore the great sonic fabric of this country.

The Dave Matthews Band was definitely on during its Friday night performance at the Sound Advice Amphitheatre, the first in a two-show, sold-out run. (The other concert is tonight.) Although his largely 20-something-aged audience seems willing to take their Dave in any form, they got a more energetic, focused Matthews than we've often seen in recent years.

It didn't hurt that Matthews dipped generously into his catalog of hits. He opened with Don't Drink the Water, a spooky, spacious song that gives way to something frightfully angry by its conclusion. Matthews paced it just right.

But it didn't take long for Matthews to find his psychedelic-meets-country vibe, as in his gloriously trippy version of What Would You Say? Or for him to find a more folk-oriented, singer-songwriter groove, as in his thoughtful, serene Proudest Monkey.

The show continued in different veins — a little Latin, a little world music, a lot of rock and funk. Heck, the band even worked in the classic Louie, Louie at one point.

Of course, the Matthews band is much larger than the man who stands center stage. The group continues to flourish thanks especially to violinist Boyd Tinsley's almost percussive-like playing and saxophonist Leroi Moore's fluid solos. Add in the rock-steady beat of the rhythm section — notably drummer Carter Beauford — and you have something mighty indeed.


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