Dave Matthews Band Don’t Disappoint At Shoreline Ampitheatre Late Summer Tour Stop (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

The Dave Matthews Band made their regular late summer Bay Area appearance Saturday, September 8th at Shoreline Amphitheatre in the land of Google – otherwise known as Mountain View, California.

DMB has always been well supported in Northern California, owing to their string of multi-night runs over the years at both Shoreline, and 30 miles up the road at Berkeley’s The Greek Theater. The latter having been filmed in 2014 over three nights and released as a fan club “Live Tracks” CD/DVD.

After reflectively celebrating what would have been founding member and saxophonist LeRoi Moore’s 57th birthday with a toned-down and intimate performance the night before in Lake Tahoe that included the instrumental “#34” and Moore tribute “Why I Am”. That show was at one of the tour’s most inimate venues with a crowd of 9,000. The energy level created by Shoreline’s steep pitch and its 22,000 fans was a palpable difference as lights went down and the band made it’s way on stage.

Surprisingly, the band chose to open with the esoteric “Do You Remember” form their latest record, “Come Tomorrow” rather than flip positions with song #2, the raucous “Don’t Drink The Water”. The tune was a repeat from the Tahoe set, but DMB’s depiction of the plight of Native Americans driven from their lands in the colonization of America was played with significantly more snarl.

“Seek Up” made only it’s 6th appearance in the tour’s 47 shows and began with considerable rising horn interplay between saxophonist Jeff Coffin and trumpeter Rashawn Ross. A few songs later anyone who wasn’t completely engaged became so with a pair of sing-a-long favs in “Everyday” and their cover of The Zombies “Time Of The Season” which DMB has thankfully revived from their 2005 tour.

Continuing on an old-school performance theme were traditional arrangements of “Dancing Nancies” meshing into “Warehouse”. It was this combo where guitarist Tim Reynolds really took over. Displaying the speed and creativity he’s know for with his own trio, TR3, neither hand got too far from the twangy pickup of his vanilla and white Telecaster.

Even lighting director Fenton Williams’ backdrop had a sort of batman comic “ka-pow” shape to it, framing video of individual performers in a shattered mirror framework. Turns out as the night went on, what it provided was a nearly endless palette of creativity to project something different on each shard. The overhead rig too, took a page out of something I saw on Train’s rig (and loved) in 2015 with sections of the support illuminating like giant Lego’s with glowing muted color in support of the harsher top and side LED’s.

The up-tempo “Grey Street” brought the familiar call and answer solo’s from Ross and Coffin, elevating the song to its terse crescendo and crowd roar. A powerful cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” with a particularly animated Dave Matthews belting lyrics over the falsetto fills of keyboardist Buddy Strong, was subtle highlight for me.

In addition to the immediately recognizable synthesized Shakuhachi on Sledgehammer, Strong showed nice instincts all evening without being heavy handed. He added his touches on keys with more of a funk flavor than the jazzy period of the touring band with Butch Taylor, and with more versatility. I look forward to seeing him take on some more solo spots on next year’s tour.

Bassist Stefan Lessard and drummer Carter Beauford are always so solid together and playing with such joy night in and night out that shamefully, they almost get taken for granted. It should be noted that Beauford (and guitarist Reynolds) hit 60 years of age prior to the tour, but you’d never know it.

“Ants Marching” closed the main set for the third consecutive show with the 51 year-old front man scatting his way through the intro, a juicy double round robin of solo takes from Strong, Reynolds, Coffin, and Ross before Matthews crooned the final “Lights down, you up and die”.

After a hiatus in 2017 and a bit of a rocky start to their return in 2018, the Dave Matthews Band, capping their summer tour with a date at The Hollywood Bowl on September 10th, just keeps on marching.

Dave Matthews Band Setlist Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA, USA, Summer 2018

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