|Dave Matthews. (Michael Kovac/Getty Images for John Varvatos/AFP)
Dave Matthews Band’s break from touring last year - on their 20th anniversary no less - seems to have given the veteran group new life judging from their show at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre on Saturday night.
Matthews, 45, and his six member troupe - bassist Stefan Lessard, drummer Carter Beauford, violinist Boyd Tinsley, saxophonist Jeff Coffin, trumpet player Rashawn Ross and electric guitarist Tim Reynolds - delivered an animated two hours and 40 minutes of tunes with the emphasis on jams, solos and keeping the audience on their feet and dancing all night long.
They also previewed a few new songs, Mercy and Gaucho, from the much anticipated new DMB studio album - their first since 2009’s Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (a shout out to the late sax player LeRoi Moore who died in 2008) - that’s coming in September with production by Steve Lillywhite.
“Whenever I come north of the border I’m amazed at how good looking you all are,” said the South African-born, Seattle-based Matthews, whose warm words were welcome on a cold night where a nearly full moon hung low in the sky initially.
Not even Saturday night’s drop in temperature, with the wind and rain picking up as the evening progressed, could seemingly dampen the spirits of either those on stage or in the audience.
It was almost like a collective release as the sexy-voiced Matthews, on acoustic guitar, let go with some mighty big notes and fans sang along with their arms stretched out in the air.
“I just camped in the rain for three days,” said Matthews as he watched those on the lawn get soaked briefly. “Camping in the rain isn’t as good as camping in the non-rain.”
The camaraderie between singer and crowd isn’t really that surprising since DMB fans are likened to the same hardcore group who follow Phish or the Grateful Dead.
Otherwise, the group’s jazz-funk-pop sound took a few songs in to really gel but when it did each member got their chance to shine in the spotlight - Tinsley on Lie In Our Graves; Lessard on Crush; the dual horn section of Coffin and Ross on #41; the rhythm section of Lessard and Beauford on So Much To Say; Reynolds on Too Much, etc.
Also good overall were Eh Hee, When The World Ends, You & Me, Can’t Stop, Save Me, and Rapunzel.