MTH-V: Dave Matthews & Friends

Almost ten years ago, Dave Matthews released his Some Devil, his first solo album separate from DMB. Featuring a more standard rock instrumentation of guitars, keys, bass, and drums (with occasional horns, etc. in the studio), the songs were more straight ahead than the usual DMB fare. Winter 2003/04 saw a brief tour in support of the album with Dave Matthews & Friends, a powerhouse consisting of:

Dave Matthews – guitar, lead vocals
Trey Anastasio – guitar, vocals
Brady Blade – drums, vocals (brother of another drumming Blade…)
Tony Hall – bass, vocals
Ray Paczkowski – keys
Tim Reynolds – guitar

Just the other day I was thinking of what a great time I had at the 12.22.03 show outside of Chicago – the band’s last show of the year. It remains one of the best concerts I’ve attended (and not just Dave Matthews-related). For one, we (the audience) got a lot of show that night for the price of one ticket. Not counting Emmylou Harris‘s opening set, DM&F played for over 3 hours 20 minutes, and the energy continually built throughout the evening.  This of course begs the question on how/why the band would play such long shows while touring to support one album. Well, the show was broken down into a few segments:
• ~30 minute acoustic opener by Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, performing acoustic renditions of a few DMB songs
• …transitioning into a 2+ hour set by DM&F, performing songs from Some Devil as well as select covers from The Beatles to to Peter Gabriel to Led Zeppelin to The Band to Sly & The Family Stone and more
• Opening the encore with a brief acoustic set by Dave Matthews & Trey Anastasio, playing a few DMB and Phish numbers a la Billy Joel & Elton John
• …transitioning into a finale by the full band

One of my favorite parts of the show was just how fun it was. The band was solid, locked in with one another and playing as a unit. And they all seemed to really enjoy playing together. And the mix of originals and covers made me feel like I was watching them in a bar as opposed to an arena. I’d love to see the band hit the road for another brief tour sometime. I’d definitely attend. (DM&F later appeared at Bonnaroo 2004, Vegoose 2005, and a special Dave Matthews & Friends cruise in 2006.)

It’s worth noting that the full band only performed one nearly forgotten DMB song, “Sweet Up and Down.” And, oddly enough, except for “So Damn Lucky,” Some Devil‘s songs didn’t start creeping into full DMB sets until recent years. I’m glad to see that latter firewall start to erode. (They’ve always been a part of the acoustic Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds canon.)

Below are some live clips of both original and cover songs. If you’re a fan, you’ll dig ’em. If DM&F is new territory for you, I suggest checking them out even if you don’t like DMB. Different band, different vibes.

“Up and Away” by Dave Matthews | Allstate Arena; Rosemont, IL 12.22.03 
• My favorite tune on the studio album. I was at this show.

“Fool in the Rain” by Led Zeppelin | Madison Square Garden; New York, NY 12.17.03
• Final song of the night, hence Dave’s voice being shot at the end. At the beginning, the crowd is continuing to sing Phish’s “Bathtub Gin,” which was just sung by Dave & Trey.

“Will It Go Round In Circles” by Billy Preston | DM&F Cruise 02.04.06
Bob Weir comes out at the end of the video after the song ends. They next played a cover of Grateful Dead‘s “Iko Iko.”

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