Dave Matthews Band played last night at a packed KFC Yum! Center. Sorry to all you naysayers out there (a few Tweeters thought my commentating was breathless and giddy), but they put on an incredible show that concert goers of all ages and varying character enjoyed.
Jimmy Cliff kicked off the concert with some popular reggae beats. You’d never be able to tell Cliff was 64 years old by the energy he showed on stage. He was light on his feet and could still belt some Jamaican socio-political melodies which were enhanced with rich harmonies created by his backup singers. The crowd favorite was his performance of “I Can See Clearly Now” which he performed for the movie Cool Runnings. The band was great, but it seemed like a slightly miss matched opening act. The Lumineers opening for the second half of the tour makes more sense as they match the genre of Dave Matthews more and are less well known. This may be why attendance wasn’t great during Jimmy Cliff’s set. It appeared approximately half the audience arrived after Cliff performed.
After the stage crew cleared off the stage I noticed a stagehand sweeping the carpet on the stage. It made me wonder if this was a sign that Dave Matthews is high maintenance. After all why would they need the stage swept? This was just one of those small things that caught my eye as odd having performed with various bands and orchestras.
After everything was setup the Dave Matthews Band took the stage and the crowd roared. The lighting and staging was quite impressive. Lasers and lights were beaming across the audience and the video background showed up close footage of all the band members and occasionally artsy images of puppets, masked people, roads, subway tunnels, elevators, and nature. The imagery was dark, sometimes bordering on creepy (especially during "The Riff" when the screen showed dolls/puppets hanging), but was clearly inspired by the music.
The music was great as well as the presentation. The ensemble as a whole was tight. They hit breaks, transitions, and changes in tempo flawlessly. Every musician in the band (Carter Beauford- drums, Stefan Lessard- bass, Rashawn Ross- trumpet, Jeff Coffin- saxophone, Tim Reynolds- guitar, Dave Matthews- vocals/guitar, and Boyd Tinsley- violin) is fantastic at what he does. Lessard, Ross, and Reynolds got the job done and performed well, but they didn’t really stand out like their other band mates.