Just like a king returning to his throne, Dave Matthews made his triumphant return to the Gorge Amphitheatre this past weekend. Although this was not my first trip to the Gorge, I still found myself in awe throughout the entire time we spent there. Attending Matthews first of three consecutive nights, we expected the crowd to be slim at best; however, that was not at all the case. An estimated 25,000 “Dave” fanatics were already drinking Coors light and Margaritas when we showed up 40 minutes prior to the show, proving once again that Dave Matthews Band certainly knows how to draw the most energetic, fun-loving, and perhaps friendliest crowd around.
DMB appeared just as the sun was setting over the Columbia River and Washington State. Opening with an extended version of Bartender, the crowd immediately sprung to life. Easing the elated crowd into its first of three nights at the Gorge, DMB continued through classic staples Proudest Monkey and Satellite with the obligatory long extended jams in both songs. Coffin proved quickly to the masses why he deserved to be on the same stage as Matthews and co. Ripping through Moore-like solos alongside the trumpet wielding Rashawn Ross, the two drew huge applause throughout the entire set.
Prior to Bartender, many were debating whether the death of saxophonist LeRoi Moore would affect DMBs performance. While Coffin’s friendly groove sounds were embraced by fans with open arms, there was certainly an overhanging sense of emotion felt throughout the venue. Matthews and his bandmates continually fought back tears in between rousing renditions of old classics and reminiscing memories of their old friend to the 25,000 fans. We’ve had a tough little while recently,” I don’t know if you knew my friend Roi like I did, but he had the most outrageous laugh. When he laughed he busted into laughter that would knock him off his feet. If he was sitting it would knock his ass out of his seat.”
While the extended jams and unbelievable musical skill continued, the next few songs proved to be less familiar for the crowd. Slipping away from classics for a few tracks DMB played some music off their 2005 release Stand Up. You Might Die Trying was catchy but most fans seemed turned off by the newer tracks
By the time Matthews easily recognized lines – Could I have been from Dancing Nancies – rang aloud the Gorge, the dancing and joyful sing-alongs returned. An amazing cover of The Talking Heads Burning Down the House only added to the excitement as Matthews contagious dancing spewed into a crowd full of fans of all ages.
There is no arguing the frontmans dominating presence on stage, yet the band members behind him are what complete the show. Carter Beauford on his army of cymbals and drums carries DMB on his back. Never missing a beat during all those extended jams was a sight for the eyes and ears. Paired with Stefan Lessard on bass, these two form one of the tightest rhythm sections in music today. Flanking Matthews right shoulder was Boyd Tinsley and his lightning quick violin – so the small but so powerful. Tim Reynolds on electric guitar, whose captivating solos have been particular effective on the tour, especially since the great loss of Moore. With all these amazing musicians on stage, I found my head spinning as I watched the scene. Thankfully, the multiple big screens came in handy, helping every DMB fan soak in as much as possible.
If the first hour and a half was not enough, DMBs second half on stage proved to be life changing. Prior to the band ripping into the sax heavy #41 there was a moments silence for Moore, during which an extraordinary thing happened in the crowd. At the top of the Gorge, thousands of fans begun hurling an equal number of glow sticks down the hill. Lighting up the dark sky with thousands of pink, green, yellow, and blue sticks, it appeared like an invasion of fireflies, an amazing site up against the bright stars. Every time a glow stick was thrown it was picked up again and thrown further down the hill, this carried on for close to 10 minutes. Then, unexpectedly, Dave Matthews and company ripped into the greatest cover performance Ive ever heard by any band at any live show – a rendition of Pink Floyds Money. Highlighted of by the extended jam and Matthews best David Gilmour impression, the band nailed the songa and left fans with memories of a life-time.
If I was surprised to see 25,000 fans for the opening night of a three night stand, I was equally blown away by DMBs musical talent and live performance. Even though I’m a long-time fan and own all their albums, I was unprepared for this show. Playing for over two and a half hours is something which few bands take pride in today., but for the band that night, it almost seemed, too little, too short. For a night, Dave Matthews Band was able to escape the sadness and the heartbreak with what they do best and in a way, the crowd was there for them like never before, our ears and eyes helped to heal their hearts.
So Damn Lucky
You Might Die Trying
Old Dirt Hill
Water Into Wine
Burning Down The House (Talking Heads)
Lover Lay Down
Money (Pink Floyd)
Crash Into Me
Anyone Seen The Bridge
Too Much Intro
Dont Drink the Water
“Burning Down The House” (Talking Heads)