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Concert Reviews:
Dave Matthews Band welcomed back with open arms at DTE

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2012

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- The old adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder certainly proved true for the Dave Matthews Band on Tuesday night, July 10, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

The hard-touring group took 2011 off from full-scale touring, substituting four Caravan festivals instead -- a big deal, but hardly enough to sate an exuberant corps of fans who had become nothing if not addicted to their annual summer DMB fix. So, not surprisingly, a sellout crowd turned out at DTE, geeked from tailgate to encore for an overdue party.

Matthews and company delivered, too. Seemingly refreshed from its break, the septet put on an exuberant, high-energy and mostly hard rocking two-hour and 35-minute show that touched on its entire 21-year career but also nodded to a new album, "Away From the World," that's coming on Sept. 11.

Matthews' fans didn't have to wait long to see him on Tuesday, either. Dressed in black, he came on stage to introduce opener Brandi Carlile, then joined her for a duet on John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery" during her set.

But that was just the appetizer. Tuesday's main course started with the short, tonal "Little Thing," with Matthews stretching out his falsetto before blasting into a pounding, funky "Seven," spitting out his vocals scat-style while guitarist Tim Reynolds -- who would get the bulk of the instrumental spotlight during the 19-song set -- played gritty fills.

With a trio of triangular video screens mixing live footage and prepared videos, Matthews and company kept the tempo up through "Eh Hee" and "You Never Know," while "Don't Drink the Water" received a chunky makeover that built in ferocity. "#41" was, as usual, an epic exercise in improvisation, with Reynolds, violinist Boyd Tinsley, saxophonist Jeff Coffin (who Matthews thanked for making him some "delicious" juice before the show) and trumpeter Rashawn Ross passing the musical ball, while Tinsley's lengthy solo highlighted "Lie In Our Graves."

The DMB offered up a pair of songs from "Away From the World:" "Mercy," a quiet, soulful piece with a long, ambient wind-out during which Matthews played piano; and "The Riff," a textured, building tune which he introduced as being about "how you can be walking down crazy happy street and you can still be lonely as hell." Like any other band, however, those became excuses for bathroom breaks for talk-among-yourselves time for the crowd and chances to rest up for the more explosive moments of "Why I Am," "Everybody Wake Up," the libidinous "Corn Bread" (during which Matthews did a bit of goofy, herky-jerky dancing) and an expansive, furious "Two Step."

Early in the evening Matthews told the DTE crowd that "it is my greatest hope that you all have a good time this evening," and as he and the band rushed through an encore that reprised a bit of "Lie In Our Graves" along with "Halloween" and "Tripping Billies," it was clear that desire had been fulfilled, for both sides.

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