After over two decades of touring, a certain standard is held in the eyes of the Dave Matthews Band fanbase in regards to their beloved band.
Philadelphia’s show was that standard.
On December 22, DMB finished their mini 15-show tour in the City of Brotherly Love, finding a perfect combination of new and old songs that fans hope would be the norm heading into 2013.
The tour was in support to their eighth studio album, Away From the World, which came out in the fall. Six songs from the new album were a part of the 20-song set list.
The band played their standards such as #41, Grey Street, So Damn Lucky, Ants Marching and All Along the Watchtower along with six new songs. They also debuted fan-favorites You Never Know and Pig as well as played the newly scarce Warehouse and Best of What’s Around.
“I look at last night as the standard Dave should strive for every night,” said fan and friend Chad Flood on AntsMarching.org, the top DMB fan forum on the internet. “There was a great balance between new and old, and the set flowed really nicely. Even with a couple songs I didn’t actively want to hear, it didn’t matter based on the collective, which just worked.”
Fans like Flood have stressed on the forum that shows like Philadelphia should be the norm, and shows like what happened in Alpine Valley this past July should still be considered the “epic shows” that venues like that should receive.
It isn’t hard for a band with 22 years of music in their catalog to put out shows every night such as Philly, and call those a standard show. If you look at the set list, you will see that there was never a two or even three-song run where there was a lull or absence in creativity.
Seven and Belly Belly Nice (a new song) opened the show. Both songs feature horn players Jeff Coffin (sax) and trumpeter Rashawn Ross. Then the fans were treated to some of DMB’s finest work in You Never Know, Proudest Monkey and Satellite, the latter two being a common 1-2 punch for the past 15 years.
New songs Rooftop and Mercy sandwiched a two-song punch of the classics, #41 and Best of What’s Around. The rest of the main set saw a similar pattern with a mix of new songs (If Only, Gaucho) and classics (Pig, Grey Street, Warehouse, Ants Marching).
The encore also proved to be special, featuring a legendary tune (Christmas Song), new epic (Drunken Soldier) and standard closer that pleases the newer and hardcore fans (All Along the Watchtower).
Performance-wise, the band sounded good during the 15-night run. Having listened to half the shows via tape, the band sounded good. But on paper, there was something left to be desired.
If you go on the forum, it’s like a broken record with people sharing the same sentiments. But unfortunately for those people, the forum only makes up about 10% of the show’s attendance nightly.
DMB will continue to play to their casual fans with them at this point in their career. They mix it up just enough to keep fans guessing what will be played, and will throw a bone here or there for the hardcore fans to keep them coming back hoping to get a taste of something special once again.
But that brings me back to my original point: why can’t Philadelphia’s show be the norm? It appeases all types of fans, especially the hardcores.
Philadelphia was one of the loudest crowds I have ever been a part of in the 19 shows I attended. Songs like Warehouse and Christmas song got huge pops from the crowd, and it’s a crime Warehouse was played 1/5 of the tour despite being a staple for so long in the band’s history.
With that being said, one can only hope the right songs see their fair share of play in 2013. For now, let’s enjoy Philadelphia for what it was: a great show capping off a mediocre tour.
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