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Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds

Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds on stage during their spring tour.

 

So, it’s summer and that can only mean one thing if you are a Dave Matthews Band fan – it’s tour time! Actually this summer is a little different. It’s still tour time, just not the way DMB fans are used to it.

If you follow the band, you know that they announced last year that the band was taking a break after 25 years straight of touring. This led to some major depression for a lot of DMB fans, as many people look forward to their shows – whether they only attend one show at their local venue, or they travel around the country and attend multiple shows.

But, Dave couldn’t stay off the road and away from his fans completely, even though the rest of the band was staying home or working on other projects. He decided to go on tour with his longtime friend and collaborator (who has also become an unofficial member of the band over the last few years) – Tim Reynolds. They kicked off the tour with a 3-night stand in Mexico, then spent a couple of weeks in Europe, and are currently back in the states doing multiple dates in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

The Dave & Tim shows consist of just the two of them with their guitars (plus an occasional song where Dave plays piano) going through Dave’s vast catalog of songs from the band and his solo work, as well as some covers. It’s a much more “stripped down” version of the full band tour, which translates into a more intimate show.

If you aren’t part of the DMB community (or DMB Family as it is known), you might not be familiar with what the shows are like. I would liken it more to an experience than just a concert. Show days typically start with friends getting together to tailgate and/or gather at a local bar for several hours. Fans go into the venue at the last minute (unless they are on a mission to get a poster or get on “the rail”). Once the show starts, you’ll find fans giving each other high fives when a rare song is played. You’ll see everyone dancing and singing. You’ll also see people holding up their phones Periscoping the show so others can experience the concert on the “DMB Couch Tour”.

We are only seeing Dave & Tim three times this year – two nights in Philly and one night in Holmdel, NJ – as opposed to the 10 or so times we would see them on a normal “full band tour” year. Even so, each of those three shows is different, as you will see in the below individual show reviews.

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Philly – N1 – June 2, 2017

When the full band tours, they typically play a 2-night stand at BB&T Pavilion in Camden, NJ. For this tour, Dave & Tim played a 2-night stand at The Mann Center for the Performing Arts. The full band hasn’t played The Mann since the mid-90’s, so it was great to get a chance to see Dave in a much smaller and more intimate venue.

There is no opener for the tour. Show start time on the ticket was 7:30 p.m., but they didn’t start playing until right around 8:00 p.m. both nights due to traffic and some challenges getting everyone in the entrance to the venue. The set up of the stage consists of a stool Dave sits on, a table for his tea and oddly a box of tissues that I noticed one night, a piano, and a few guitar stands.

On N1, the guys walked out and immediately went into “Bartender”, which is one of the band’s signature songs that quickly gets the crowd singing along. They then went into “Satellite”, which is one of Dave’s more recognizable songs, but probably not a favorite among the diehard fan base. Most Dave fans want to hear more obscure songs that he doesn’t play as often. Dave delivered on the more obscure songs right at the beginning of the set with “The Best of What’s Around” (aka “BOWA”), “Lie In Our Graves”, “Lying in the Hands of God” and “The Stone”. Those are all songs that the full band hasn’t played much in recent years, so it was a treat for the fan base to hear them.

After a couple of more common songs and a Tim Reynolds guitar solo (“Give Up the Goat”), we got to my favorite 2-song string of the set – “So Damn Lucky” (one of my all-time favorite older songs) and “Samurai Cop” (which has quickly become one of my new song favorites).

After a string of more mellow songs, the pace picked back up with “Two Step”, which is a crowd favorite that typically gets everyone dancing. The last two songs before the end of the set were “Grey Street” and “Jimi Thing”.

After a short encore break, Dave & Tim came back out and started with “Some Devil”, which is from Dave’s solo album and also one that the full band rarely plays. After the slow and quiet “Some Devil”, they went into “Ants Marching”, which is probably DMB’s most recognizable song and a frequent closer at shows. The crowd sang along with enthusiasm! There was another quick encore break before they finished up the show with “Rapunzel”.

Set List: Bartender, Satellite, Little Red Bird, You Might Die Trying, The Best of What’s Around, Gravedigger, Lie In Our Graves, Lying in the Hands of God, Tripping Billies, Funny the Way It Is, The Stone, What Would You Say, Give Up the Goat, Out of My Hands, So Damn Lucky, Samurai Cop, The Song That Jane Likes, The Space Between, Two Step, Betrayal, Crash Into Me, Save Me, Grey Street, Jimi Thing. Encore 1 – Some Devil, Ants Marching. Encore 2 – Rapunzel.

 

Philly – N2 – June 3, 2017

For many Dave fans, the Philly N2 set list is one for the history books. There were several songs that are not played often – whether at a Dave & Tim show or a full band show. The set opened up with “Crush”, which is a fan favorite, and then went right into “Pig”. “Pig” is one of those songs that is not played often and people “chase” it, meaning they have never heard it live and it’s a song that they hope for during every show they attend. While many casual fans might not know “Pig”, the die-hard Dave fans were going crazy when it was played.

After “So Much to Say”, Dave went into “Granny”, which is one of my personal favorites and another song that really gets the crowd singing along. From there, he played “Old Dirt Hill” which is another rarity and one of my personal favorites. The rarities continued with “Fool To Think” (played often this tour, but has rarely been played since the early 2000’s) and “Say Goodbye”. We even got some classic “Davespeak” – which is how fans refer to the sometimes crazy things Dave says in between songs – about “Say Goodbye”.

More “Davespeak” led into a cover of “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. In fact, the “Davespeak” was much longer than usual. He spoke about climate change, and how even if the majority of scientists are wrong and there is no such thing as global warming, what does it hurt to assume there is and do the right thing for our environment? As Dave put it, if the weatherman says there is a 97% chance of rain, you’re going to take your umbrella!

After slowing it down, he went into the upbeat “Warehouse”, which is very commonly played at shows and a fan favorite. Which made the next song even more of a surprise. When the first few chords were played and fans realized Dave was going to play “Spoon”, people went crazy. “Spoon” was a duet Dave originally recorded with Alanis Morissette. “Spoon” was played a lot in the late 90’s, but is rarely played since. It was last played in July of 2015. I’ve seen him play it once before with Brandi Carlisle on the female vocals. Him doing it solo was a huge surprise. Again, a lot of fans chase this song and were very excited to hear it.

While there were some standards played (“#41” is played often as is “Black and Blue Bird”), we continued to get surprises – songs that wouldn’t be expected in a Dave & Tim acoustic set, like “Minarets” and “All Along the Watchtower”.

After wrapping up with “Stay” and “Dancing Nancies”, Dave & Tim took a short break. They came out for the first encore and started with “Why I Am”, which again was a huge surprise and one of my favorites, and “Two Step” (which was the only song that they played on both nights). The second encore started out with the sweet ballad “Oh” and then wrapped up on a high note with the upbeat “Everyday”. As soon as the first chords of “Everyday” were played, the crowd burst into the well known “Honey, Honey!  Come and dance with me!”, which was transformed from the original lyrics from the band’s song “#36” (“Hani, Hani! Come and dance with me!”), which evolved into another song “Everyday” (it’s confusing – I know!).

Set List: Crush, Pig, So Much To Say, Granny, Old Dirt Hill, Fool to Think, Say Goodbye, Worried Man Blues, A Whiter Shade of Pale, Warehouse, Spoon, Cornbread, Ode to the Box, Death on the High Seas, #41, Minarets, Stay or Leave, Black and Blue Bird, Don’t Drink the Water, Manfood, All Along the Watchtower, You and Me, Stay, Dancing Nancies. Encore 1 – Why I Am, Two Step. Encore 2 – Oh, Everyday.

 

Holmdel, NJ – June 7, 2017

We got another great set list from Dave & Tim at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ on Wednesday night. The guys opened up with “Dancing Nancies”, which is always a crowd favorite and a great way to get the night started. This was followed by “Grace Is Gone” and “Recently”, which are both slower songs.

After bringing things back up tempo with “The Best of What’s Around”, Dave & Tim slowed it back down with “I’ll Back You Up”, which is another rarity that hasn’t been played much recently in past full band tours.

Dave & Tim then went into a string of more commonly known (and played) songs including “Satellite”, “Grey Street” and “Bartender”. They also played “Two Step” which is the only song that was a repeat on all three nights of our three night run.  You can download the full band’s original version of Two Step here.

Towards the middle of the set, the crowd was treated with a couple of special songs including “Spoon” (see the review of Philly N2 above) and a cover of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Melissa”, which has been showing up in several shows since Gregg Allman’s passing at the end of May. The lighting during the song was beautiful. It made it appear like there were thousands of stars shining the in sky.

Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds covering the Allmann Brothers Band’s “Melissa” in Holmdel, NJ.

The close of the main set consisted of some powerful crowd pleasers that always get the Dave fans singing (and screaming) along. After a short break, Dave came out to introduce the song that opened up the first encore the way he typically does – “I have a sister named Jane. This is the song she likes”. They finished up the first encore with “Crush”.

After another quick break, Dave walked back on stage solo with his electric guitar. Having the electric guitar meant only one thing – he was going to do “Some Devil”, which is a song off his solo album that is rarely played. Tim then joined Dave back on stage and they finished the set with “Crash Into Me”, which was a bit of a let down after a set full of songs that are less “commercial” and aren’t played that often.

Set List: Dancing Nancies, Grace Is Gone, Recently, The Best of What’s Around, I’ll Back You Up, Grey Street, Satellite, Bartender, If Only, Two Step, Spoon, Cornbread, Tangled Web We Weave, Death on the High Seas, Melissa, Warehouse, Old Dirt Hill, Rapunzel, Stream, The Space Between, Funny The Way It Is, Don’t Drink the Water, You and Me, Jimi Thing. Encore 1 – The Song That Jane Likes, Crush. Encore 2 – Some Devil, Crash Into Me.

 

If I had to rank the three shows, the Philly N2 show is hands down the winner. The set list was amazing with so many rare songs and songs that made their tour debut. In addition, I felt like Dave was exceptionally chatty on Philly N2, and having a lot of “Davespeak” always adds to the atmosphere of a show.

Dave & Tim have a few more shows scheduled over the next couple of weeks in the Midwest and on the East Coast. At this point, no West Coast dates have been announced, and it would be surprising if any were. All DMB fans will be holding their collective breath this January (which is when summer tour dates are typically announced), so we can all start planning our “Davecations” for 2018!

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