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Concert Reviews:
Dave Matthews Band is twice as nice at DTE

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- "We'd like to thank the Dave Matthews Band for letting us start the show this evening."

Those words have been uttered by many over the past couple of decades. But never by Matthews himself -- until this year.

Truth be told, opening acts have always seemed a bit superfluous for Matthews and company, even though they've had some very good ones over the years. But with its plus-sized catalog, a penchant for lengthy improvisations and a following that can truly be called fanatical, a full night of Dave is certainly the preferred situation at any given show.

So this summer the DMB -- which stopped Wednesday night, June 25, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre -- is acquiescing to that demand, "opening" its shows with an acoustic set and then returning after an intermission with its typically powerhouse plugged-in presentation. At DTE that meant 25 songs and three hours of music -- and rapture for the near-capacity crowd of Daveheads.

The eight-song acoustic set was hardly a laid-back folk exposition. With the bearded Matthews telling fans that "every single one of you looks fantastic...this evening," the septet started strong with a lively "Two Step" and then built "Snow Outside" into a textured blend of Tim Reynolds' lead guitar, Boyd Tinsley's plucked fiddle and Jeff Coffin' saxophone. Coffin and trumpeter Rashawn Ross stood out on the winding "Stolen Away on 55th & 3rd" while Matthews took on the rarely played "Little Red Bird" solo. The stripped-down treatments of "Crush," "Typical Situation" and "Pay For What You Get" were crowd-pleasing despite some issues with the sound mix, but the troupe rallied for a cosmic Dixieland treatment of "Ants Marching," spiced with short solos by Tinsley and Coffin.

The laser-lit electric portion of the show was just as satisfying, with the crowd getting to exercise its voices early, singing along to "So Right" and a bit of Elvis Presley's "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" at the end of "The Stone," which started with a Coffin improvisation and was "conducted" by drummer Carter Beauford. The DMB kept its expansive jamming somewhat in check on Wednesday, probably for the better to really frame solo spots by Reynolds (during "Shake Me Like a Monkey," "Seek Up") and Coffin ("Raven"). That said, "Shake Me Like a Monkey" and "Save Me" were funky delights, while "The Riff" took the DMB in a prog rock direction (accompanied by an arsty film on the rear-stage screen).

The group did let loose a bit more towards the end of the set, with "So Much To Say" powering into "Anyone Seen the Bridge" and a tease of "Too Much" resolving into a fierce "What Would You Say," while a quartet rendition of "Granny" rocked things to a close. "The Space Between" and "Grey Street" were solid encores, and the DTE faithful certainly trooped out feeling like it had seen two good shows -- even if they were by the same band.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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