Jones Beach Amphitheatre, Wantagh, New York
The Song That Jane Likes
Crash Into Me
Lie In Our Graves *
Seek Up **
For the Beauty of Wynona
Ants Marching *
So Much To Say (Anyone Seen the Bridge?) -->
Leave Me Praying
Drive in, Drive Out
* with Bela Fleck
** with Bela Fleck and John Popper
A good show should not be measured by neither the setlist, the amount of time the band played, nor the length of each rendition of a song. This reviewer prefers to pick out each song and grade it according to its place in the Dave Matthews Band canon. The ensemble has performed probably around 600 times. Most shows have their moments; the good ones have quite a few. The Dave Matthews Band's first evening at Jones Beach, June 10, is quite possibly the band's best since 1994. It featured some unreleased material in addition to the expected doses of material from "Crash." But it was not the song selection itself that determined the show's legendary status to-be; it is the degree to which the ensemble tried to do something new. But more importantly, it is the degree to which that experimentation clicks. A prime example of this is Jones Beach's "Typical Situation." A spontaneous flute/pizzicato jam drove the song far from the standard (and anticipated) Leroi Moore saxophone solos. The rendition of "Ants Marching" is arguably the finest ever; the instrumental jam wherein Boyd Tinsley and Bela Fleck traded licks measure for measure is invaluable. And most impressively, the show featured *the* benchmark "Seek Up," which, thanks to Fleck and John Popper, was brought to a more impressive climax than any previous version of the song (including fabulous early renditions, like the 19.1.93). Most remarkable, however, about labeling the show near brilliant on the basis of these performances (and others -- "Two Step" was a wonderful post-Peter interpretation), is that the evening's great moments were driven by guests. And, unfortunately, almost all of the great shows since late 1994 have been driven by guest stars. 1996-97 New Year's Eve in Hampton, Va., is a classic -- but only because of the remarkable performance of Paul McCandless and the Flecktones. Trey Anastasio makes the January 26, 1995, show in Burlington, Vt., a keeper. And it is Popper and M.Doughty who make October 4, 1996, at Madison Square Garden, anything above average. June 10 was made brilliant by Fleck and Popper. This is not to say that the five members of the Dave Matthews Band played no part in the show; after all, Popper only performed for five minutes. The ensemble has suffered from a certain indefinable creative malaise for the past two-plus years. And that evening at Jones Beach it seemed that, if only for a little while, that they had abandoned their inhibitions and come back to life. But, alas, the experimental drive on stage that evening came entirely from the guests. This is not that bad. After all, the guests are arguably the most versatile and refined instrumentalists in contemporary music. Popper has wielded his harmonica with a range of musicians from Dolly Parton to Pearl Jam to B.B. King -- and has been brilliant every time. Similarly, Fleck has not only served as an innovator in bluegrass-jazz-fusion, but has jammed with everyone from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band ("Will the Circle Be Unbroken? Vol. II" is a gem) to Phish Bruce Hornsby. And during the best moments of Jones Beach, the Dave Matthews Band served as little more than a high-powered house band for two creative giants. The Matthews Band still posits a good live performance; but they continue to "[tread] trodden trails." If it requires a Popper or Fleck to bring a sense of artistic experimentation onto stage, this reviewer is not anticipating any end soon to the creative malaise.
This was an excellent show. The band has put nice touches on their jams and the tunes with Fleck and Popper were unreal. The highlight of the night for me was, without a doubt, the (at least) twenty minute rendition of Seek Up with Fleck and Popper. Following the last chorus of Seek Up, Fleck, Popper, and the entire band put together perhaps one of the best jams in the last two or three years. Ants with Fleck was unbelievable; Boyd exchanged solos with Fleck. Lie in our Graves was also excellent. I enjoyed hearing Wynona for the first time -- it's a gloomy song, but it works quite well with the band. Weight of the World was a surprise for the encore -- I was expecting Jimi Thing since it hadn't been played, but it sounded very good. Carter used wood blocks for percussion on Two Step, giving it a unique sound. Typical Situation had a new opening verse and closing jam. As usual, Boyd was extremely energetic on Dancing Nancies and Tripping Billies. The "Anyone Seen the Bridge?" jam has evolved greatly and is now more funky with Roi's sax licks.
This was one of the most incredible shows I have ever been to in my life. It was purely amazing. I'll jump right into the set-list for you... Two Step: Good tight opening, IMO and a pretty good version. The sounded INCREDIBLY tight on this tune (surprisingly) and it was a good opener. The crowd loved it. Janes Song: Not expected. It was very cool, yet very static. I would say that it was about as groovy as a Janes Song can be. #41: Lovely. I wanted to hear this one tonight and I wanted a fine Say Goodbye segue with it. I got them. He threw i my fasvorite lines to #41 (I will bring you water...) and the jamming was really tight and grooving. You couldn't help but smile :). The segue has evolved so much live. It is real tight and Dave was jamming a little guitar right before Carter began Drums. Say Goodbye: Continuing with the segue motif, Roi broke out his flute for a wonderfully melodic solo. This song was also very tight. I have grown to realive that Dave moves especially in time and with the music when the whole band is on POINT. He threw in the Kynd/Wine and other lines that I smiled at. He kicked it improv style for a verse or two. Help Myself: WHAT A SURPRISE! I wouldn't have expected this in a thousand years. I have heard this tune a million times and the band never sounded so tight and on point with it. It has evolved into a wondeful song. After the first time "Dangerous Hours" was sang, Carter kicked a little drum solo. VERY SWEET! Crash: It was expected. The Crash girls who all wore matching Strangely Brown t-shirts, glitter eye-liner, and flair jeans jumped up, held eachother, screamed and cried. When it was over they lit up a stogie like they just had sex. It was kind of comical. This was a decent, incrediblt static version of this tune. Album version to a t. King of the Castle and Hiking up the skirt ;). LIOG: Dave introduces Bela as the best banjo player in the world. He also stated his dismay that such a down-home banjo prodigy came from NYC. That was a pride-booster for me man. I have come to realize that Belas banjo has become an integral part in the LIOG breakdown and end-jam. Superb. Seek Up: Alright...for the first few minutes of this tune it was real standard. Quite a bit of jamming on the intro. Bela is in the middle of his solo when all of a sudden, a crowd that was incredibly sedated when Seek Up started hopped to their feet. POPPER! He came out mid-song as a total surprise to EVERYONE! Evem the band. He jammed out an incredible harmonica solo. Then him, Dave, Stefan, Boyd and Bela formed this circle in front of Carter and just traded bars jamming. It was insane. I noticed that Roi wasn't present. He was off to the side with his ax by his side. I guess he had his moments in Hartford on Sunday (OSW, BOWA, etc.). Or I innitally got the impression that he put out by Popper. After this tune Popper left and Roi a big high-five and they seemingly shared a joke as he took to the right wing of the stage. after the tune stopped allDave could say was "Damn!" My best friend semed to be under the impression that he said "Dank!" You be the judge. Tripping Billies: nature intro wasn't as long and vocalized as the one on the 8th. Was a very static version. The kids loved it. Dancing Nancies: Great version. Boyd got his licks in on this one. Dave wondered if he could have been lost somewhere in Manhattan. Wynnona: My first encounter with this tune. My friends weren't too impressed but I liked it. It was a new approach to a new song for the band. I think I want to get some of Lanois' stuff. As has been reported... it is very DARK! Typical Situation: Oh it was so fine! Very, very long intro and it was a phenominal version. They kicked a very extended and repetitive stutter-step solo for Roi that was reminiscient of the old days (7-28-94 in particular). Even though the stutter-step was weak, it was a very nice surprise. I loved it. Roi pulled out his flute and Carter kicked a nice latin flavor rhythm on the bell of his ride cymbal during the second chorus. Sweet. Ants: Bela came out and had a Banjo battle with Boyd and his fiddle. This was NOT Dueling Banjos, but it was very fun. It was like a good 'ol hoedown...yeeehaw! :) SMTS: Static. Anyone Seen the Bridge? has evolved into a Stefan spotlight (justifiably so) and he shines. Too Much: Static. Weight of the World: Dave came out and strummed the opening chords of a lovely song that I am so glad he brouht back into his repetoir. Towards the end i heard the familiar sound of a VERY clear djembe drum. At first I thought Future Man was doing it, but I made the inference that it was Carter jamming out the hand drumming while Stefan was keeping the low end rumbling. Smooth. DIDO: A very god version with a new outro that I am heard at Hartford. He sings about getting his own dolls and throwing his own tea party. Also he was playing with the lyrics a little bit and there was a CRAZY light show during. Nuts. FINAL NOTES: The volume could have been turned up a bit. Bela played an amizing set and I am postive that he now plays an integral part in some Dave songs. He has added a new flair to LIOG, Seek Up, Two Step, Ants, etc. I just fear that these new Bela jams will become too standard for the remainder of the tour with them. We'll see. I predict that Popper will stay over tonight and jam out haaaaaard with them tomorrow. It seems only logical. He surprised them tonight. I am praying for a Popper #36 or Recently but I'll be content with anything.