DMB’s Away From the World: A Song-By-Song Analysis

2009 was an interesting year for the Dave Matthews Band.

It was less than a year since the passing of saxophonist LeRoi Moore that the band put together an album based around praising Moore’s life. Rock producer Rob Cavallo was brought in to help put that album together and in June, “Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King” was released.

Big Whiskey turned out to be a strong album, but it didn’t capture what DMB was. Electric guitarist Tim Reynolds was all over the album, and in a bad way. Dave’s song-writing musically and lyrically was cheesy at best, and in the end, only a couple of songs off the album will be memorable within the fanbase.

Three years later, DMB reunited with Steve Lillywhite, the producer of their first three albums, and he immediately went to work in making the Dave Matthews Band what it was in the early 90’s.

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DMB Plays Weakest Two Nights At Camden in Four Years

Camden has been a strong destination for Dave Matthews Band the past few years.

2009 and 2010 concert goers at the Susquehanna Bank Center were treated to four fantastic shows in one of the most underrated concert venues on the east coast.

But after a year off from the venue, it seemed that the band lost some of the magic it was creating in the city of New Jersey closest to Philadelphia.

The band played well at both shows, and maybe it’s just the fact both shows were my 17th and 18th career DMB concerts that create these feelings. But either way I will try my best to look at this objectively.

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Metallica’s Orion Festival Sets AC on Fire

Metallica plays at Atlantic City’s Bader Field on June 24, 2012. (Photo by John Russo)

Back-to-back festivals in Atlantic City’s Bader Field has been all the buzz in South Jersey.

After Phish rocked the shore spot for a three-night weekend on June 15-17, Metallica brought their pyro and fireworks to the abandoned air field Saturday June 23 and 24.

The plan was to hold a festival, similar to the size that Dave Matthews Band brought in last summer, and feature 35 other acts that included the Arctic Monkeys, Modest Mouse and New Jersey’s own Gaslight Anthem. Metallica headlined both nights, featuring a whole album each night.

On Saturday, they played their 1984 album “Ride the Lightning” and on Sunday they played their 1993 self-titled album to celebrate it’s 20th anniversary. After opening each show with a few hits, they played their respective albums in full from finish to start, and then concluded the show with a few more hits and playing about two hours each night.

Both shows included hit songs “Hit the Lights,” “Master of Puppets,” and “One” as well as seeing “Battery” and “Four Horseman” played on Saturday and “Blackened,” “Fuel” and “Shortest Straw” on Sunday.

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Phun-Philled Weekend With Phish In AC

The sun sets behind the stage while Phish plays on Friday. (Photo by John Russo)

Band: Phish
Date: June 15-17, 2012
Venue: Bader Field in Atlantic City, NJ
Setlists: Night 1/Night 2/Night 3
Rating (5-star rating): 5

Atlantic City knew what was in store for them this past weekend when Phish made it’s triumphant return.

After Halloween 2010 with Phish took the city by storm and the Dave Matthews Band Caravan festival last summer to re-Christen the abandoned airport called Bader Field, the city had itself prepared to combine both elements from their previous two experiences and created a memorable weekend for locals and tourists.

Local businesses boomed once again as a touring act with the following such as Phish’s came into town. But also, the Phish fans were treated to three absolutely spectacular shows.

Friday’s show featured a very hot opening set for Phish. They nailed a pair of three-song runs of My Sweet One > 46 Days > Camel Walk and Tube > Cities > It’s Ice early in the set. A fantastic Stash also helped highlight the first half.

They closed the first set with a gorgeous Squirming Coil. As pianist Page McConnell closed out the song with a piano solo, the other three members stepped off the stage to let him finish out the set by himself.

The second set didn’t disappoint. During a huge six-song stretch, the highlight was Twist > Piper > Billy Breathes.

They closed the second set with the song of the night, David Bowie. Bowie featured Stash, It’s Ice, Birds of a Feather, Simple, and Ginseng Sullivan teases that was well-received by the crowd.

A wild First Tube was played in the encore and that capped off a great night one and set the band up for higher expectations the next two nights.

Beach balls fly while Phish plays “Brother” on Sunday. (Photo by John Russo)

The second show was even better. The show opened up with a bit of a sloppy Mike’s Song but the band tightened back up to deliver excellent versions of Weekapaug Groove, Gumbo, Hailey’s Comet, Lawn Boy and a boisterous and awesome jam in Ocelot.

But the number one highlight of the first set, and possibly for the whole show hadn’t the second set been ridiculous was Wolfman’s Brother. The band took that song to a whole new level, setting up the rest of the first set’s energy.

The band came out for the second set firing away. Crosseyed and Painless was incredible as well as being teased throughout the second set during Light, Sand and the Manteca jam during Light.

Run Like An Antelope finished the second set with an incredible jam and the ever popular Good Times, Bad Times cover of Led Zeppelin’s was played in the encore slot to end a wild second night.

With expectations running high for the Sunday show, Phish delivered the best show of the early summer tour.

Because it was Father’s Day, for the fourth time in a row the band opened the show with Brother while having all of their kids sitting up on the stage in a bathtub. From that moment on, the band was going to have fun the entire night with the third show.

All of Phish’s children sitting in a metal bathtub while the band plays on Sunday. (Photo by John Russo)

The highlights from the first set included a very funky cover of Stevie Wonder’s Boogie On Reggae Woman, Fluffhead, Dogs Stole Things as well as an energetic run of Foam > Wilson > Timber.

The second set, though a bit strange with a lack of “flow” (opinion of a handful of fans), was still an incredible way to finish off the weekend. They opened it up with a cover of The Who’s Drowned, which they led into the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey and one of the best versions of Reba anyone will ever hear.

Chalkdust Torture was incredible and Silent In the Morning was gorgeous and fun. But the way they closed the second set was pure genius starting with a version of Bug that was out of this world. McConnell then led the band into a fantastic cover of the Beatles’ A Day In the Life before they brought the house down with Down With Disease.

They played a two-song encore for the fans, surprising everyone with Gotta Jibboo before ending on a great rendition of Quinn the Eskimo with featured some intense fire from guitarist Trey Anastasio.

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend in AC for Phish, its fans and myself. Got to meet some people from AntsMarching.org, the DMB forum I’ve been a member of since 2007 as well as some amazingly nice people on Friday and Sunday.

MCA Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys dies

Today the music world lost Adam Yauch aka MCA of the Beasties Boys to cancer. He was 47.

I was never a big Beastie Boys fan, not because I didn’t like them but because I never acclimated myself with their work outside of the hits.

Yes, everyone knows “Sabatoge,” “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” and “Fight For Your Right” (the same songs that I’m familiar with along with a few others.

Starting in the late 80’s, Beastie Boys took the music world by storm with their rap/rock combination. Many tried to imitate the sound but no one sounded like the Beastie Boys.

RIP MCA, a music legend, humanitarian and one of the last greats in hip hop history.

Bruce’s “Wrecking Ball” Tour Crashes Through Philly

Rocker Bruce Springsteen dances with his mother, Adele, during "Dancing In the Dark" on Thursday, March 29, 2012 in Philadelphia. (Photo via NJ.com)

Seeing the E Street Band live must be checked off an avid concert-goers check list. And despite the loss of Clarence Clemons last June, the band hasn’t sounded any better than it has this year.

With new life breathed into the E Street Band, the backing musicians for rock legend Bruce Springsteen, they were set to bring down the walls of the Wells Fargo Center with their “Wrecking Ball” Tour.

Springsteen opened up with three of the first four songs off the new album, sprinkling in the “Born to Run” classic “Night” carefully in between “Wrecking Ball” and “Death of My Hometown.”

During “Wrecking Ball,” which is about the late Giants Stadium and growing up a New York football fan, the crowd booed mercilessly when Springsteen mentioned the Meadowlands and sang the line “and the Giants play the game.”

“Night,” the first song to feature The Big Man’s nephew Jake Clemons, was one of five songs played for the first time on this young tour. Clemons was on fire the whole show, keeping his uncle’s body of work well and alive during classic songs such as “Thunder Road,” “Kitty’s Back” and “Born to Run.”

Young Clemons’ playing wasn’t the only way The Big Man was kept a live all night.

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Album no. 22: “Jailbreak” – Thin Lizzy

Album: ”Jailbreak”
Band: Thin Lizzy
Year: 1976
Single: “The Boys Are Back In Town”
Best Song: “Cowboy Song”

Tracklist
1. Jailbreak
2. Angel From the Coast
3. Running Back
4. Romeo and the Lonely Girl
5. Warriors
6. The Boys Are Back In Town
7. Fight or Fall
8. Cowboy Song
9. Emerald

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