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Dave Matthews Band returned to Mansfield, MA this past weekend for a two night stand at the Comcast Center. Few places are as lively as the massive Comcast Center parking lot before a Dave Matthews Band concert. The slabs of asphalt are packed tight not only by cars, but by tents, lawn chairs, and grills. The party starts much before the show; fans mill about the lines of cars with beers in hand, while a certain smell wafts through the air. Since their formation, there has been a culture and community that surrounds the band. It’s easy to see the intense fandom when walking through a parking lot of thousands of cars with at least one DMB bumper sticker. One New Hampshire license plate even read “#34 DMB”, referencing the fan favorite song.
Another WERS artist, Brandi Carlile, opened the show. The alt-country rocker warmed the crowd up with some of her most loved songs, including 2007’s “The Story” and “Keep Your Heart Young” off last year’s album, Bear Creek. She also covered Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”, made famous by Sinead O’Connor in 1990, and closed with a rousing cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”.
Half-an-hour and much anticipation later, Dave Matthews Band came onstage to a roar of applause. The core members took their places by their instruments. The current lineup features Dave Matthews on guitar, Carter Beauford on a monster of a drum kit, Stefan Lessard on bass, Boyd Tinsley on violin, Rashawn Ross playing trumpet, virtuoso Tim Reynolds on electric guitar, and Jeff Coffin on saxophone. Coffin, formerly of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, took over on sax after founding member LeRoi Moore passed away in 2008.
For the second night of their stay at the Comcast Center, the band opened the show with “Seven,” a song from their 2009 album, Big Whisky and the GrooGrux King. The band played through the lustful swinging song, with Matthews singing and ad-libbing lyrics like “All I wanna do is go down on you.” The next song was longtime fan-favorite “Crush”. Coffin started the song off with rumbling saxophone before the rest of the band joined in for the first extended jam of the evening. By the end of the song, the crowd sang in euphoric unison, “Am I right side up or upside down,” which sincere wonder. The latest single from their album Away From the World, “If Only,” came next. They also performed “The Riff” and “Snow Outside” from Away From the World.
The display of lights on this tour seemed to be the best they’ve ever played with. Hundreds of them flashed and beams shot from all over the stage throughout the set. They were put on display when they all shined down on Beauford and his drum kit from dozens of different angles as smoke barreled through the stage. Beauford teased “Say Goodbye” before the band instead jumped into “Spaceman”. Another song of love and lust, Matthews sang “Cry, cry, baby, if we must/But just remember, oh remember/I love the way you love me, baby/And I love the way you move.” This segued into the twang of “Cornbread”, to the delight of the amphitheater, as Matthews scatted and danced through the song.
Unreleased fan favorite “JTR” came next, right before two worlds of jam came together when Dave Matthews Band covered Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream”. During a break after this song, Matthews pulled on the heartstrings of Boston by bringing up the double overtime Bruins win from the night before. What was most incredible was that the crowd didn’t break out into a “Let’s go Bruins” chant before this moment. As the chant died down, Matthew’s comments that from his point on the stage, it sounded like “Let’s go Wooten,” as in Victor Wooten, bass genius of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. This seamlessly lead into Matthews introducing Wooten to the stage to play with the band, resulting in a legitimate “Let’s go Wooten” chant that erupted through the venue. Wooten joined the band for “#41” and absolutely brought the house down as he slammed on his bass so hard that it looked like it would break. Wooten left the stage to applause as the band went into “Joyride” which felt like a lull after Wooten’s performance.
This exploded into “Don’t Drink The Water” and the thousands of fans were right back on their feet. Matthews takes a moment after the song to say “I hope you’re all having a good time, ‘cause I’m that good kind of crazy right now and can’t tell.” Everyone danced like hell for the remainder of the set, which included huge jams of “Grey Street”, “Best Of What’s Around”, and “Ants Marching;” three songs that every single person in the crowd knew by heart. As most of the band exited the stage, Beauford remained to toss dozens of drumsticks into the crowd before they returned for the encore. The encore consisted of a couple teases of “Blue Water” and the “Star Spangled Banner,” before they sent everyone home with their devilish cover of “All Along the Watchtower”. Not a bad way to end a night.