After taking a full-band hiatus in 2017, the peaceful denizens of Blossom Music Center were giddy with anticipation for Dave Matthews Band's return — the annual heralding, indeed, of summer in Northeast Ohio. Last night's show brought a fair setlist that touched on all corners of the Dave world, new and old, with an triumphant wave of energy in several serious stand-out moments.
See a full slideshow of photos from the concert.
First things first: Longtime violinist Boyd Tinsley was fired by the band just a few short weeks ago amid sexual misconduct allegations. That matter is now left to the courts, but observant fans have been waiting to see how his absence would be felt onstage. To my ears? The impact is very noticeable; Tinsley's melody magic was an important fulcrum in the band's jamming technique. Like trumpeter Rashawn Ross and guitarist Tim Reynolds, Tinsley's contributions filled out the multi-part twists and turns that the band appends to many tunes.
But where Tinsley was missing, new approaches and quasi-rearrangements filled in. Most notably, Reynolds seem to take the place of a lot of classic Tinsley fills, and, hey, no one's gonna argue against hearing more Tim on the soundboards.
And that's what we got last night: a thrilling, high-energy show that was anchored splendidly by a sprawling "Crush" and a "Typical Situation" that moved through several distinct parts. (See the full setlist below.)
"I love this building because it’s beautiful and it’s noisy," Matthews told the crowd early in the show, letting his drawl fill the space. "I like this building because it’s made of wood."
DMB shows the love to Blossom each time they come through town. This year's summer tour is built around a new album, dropping later this week, and so we were treated to a few of the new-ish songs. They worked really well with the flow last night, I thought. "Samurai Cop," which debuted in 2016, has really turned into a mid-set gem; Reynolds' lead work is just marvelous on that one.
Beyond that, though, this was a jammier Dave Matthews Band than we've seen during the past few tours in Northeast Ohio. The "Crush," in particular, was a real barn burner. Here, especially, drummer Carter Beauford showed off his timekeeping precision wizardry. Seek this version out!
"Corn Bread" showed up before a "Jimi Thing" that blended into a funky "Sexy M.F.," bringing some fun crowd interaction. "Louisiana Bayou" (which has appeared in every show so far this tour) slid neatly to a scat-filled "Ants Marching" closer, for which the crowd was surely eagerly awaiting all night. The energy, natch, was off the charts at this point. If you weren't groovin' and sweatin', then you weren't there.
Do You Remember
Shake Me Like A Monkey
When the World Ends
The Idea Of You
Why I Am
Crash Into Me
E: You And Me