Swear I'm not Paul: Live Review: Dave Matthews Band, O2 Dublin, 9 March 2010

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Live Review: Dave Matthews Band, O2 Dublin, 9 March 2010

Dave Matthews Band stopped off at the O2 in Dublin on their 2010 European Tour, in support of their latest album Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King. While a massive name in the United States, Dave Matthews and the band of his name are not a household name on this side of the pond. They came to promote their new album, as well as play some of their hits. Thus the setlist for last night's show was somewhat similar to most of the rest of the dates they have played this month and last in Europe.

Unreleased track 'Sugar Will' had returned in full for two England dates, but was sadly absent last night. I had hoped to hear that more than anything, as I knew there wouldn't be too many surprises in the set. For instance, Ireland will probably never get a 'Dreaming Tree' or even a 'You Never Know'. 'Bartender' opened the show last night - a show which lasted three hours in total - and was a fine extended version of the tune. It set the tone for the gig, and was much better than how they opened their Amsterdam concert last week, where they began with six successive songs from the new album.

'Stay or Leave' is from Dave Matthews' excellent solo album Some Devil, and sounds great in a full-band environment. It becomes a much bigger song, and greatly benefits from Tim Reynolds' guitarwork. Although the segue from 'Bartender' could have been worked a bit better. Still a great tune. Then the new stuff started. This is not a complaint though. It's what you expect from every band, and since Big Whiskey is their best since Busted Stuff, it's so much better to hear the new songs than to hear some of Everyday or Stand Up's many mediocre tunes.

'Funny the Way It Is' was a really catchy single, and provided some fine singalong moments from the members of the audience who knew the words (the O2 was a little over half-full last night). 'Squirm' is a nice dirty tune, and works great live. 'Shake Me Like a Monkey' and 'Lying in the Hands of God' are also from the new album, and were decent, if not amazing.

At the 2007 DMB show at the Point Theatre (to any non-Irish reading this, the O2 is the revamped Point Theatre, just with a new name), we got a solo acoustic version of 'Gravedigger', so although this was a repeat for the venue, it was a much different, and improved, song. Anyone who was also at the sold-out Dave & Tim show at the National Stadium that same year, would have heard a duet of 'Gravedigger', making three different versions of the same song.

'Anyone Seen the Bridge' into the fake 'Too Much' into 'Ants Marching' was definitely expected, but not disappointing, as we got to hear a full length 'Too Much' last time around. 'Ants Marching' wasn't all that different from 2007, but it's always a highlight, as it's one of the band's best loved songs.

'#27' made its tour debut (although now I see it's being called 'Arms of a Woman'), and was a totally new song for the Irish audience. It's not on any studio albums, so wasn't as well known as some of the others. A little treat for the Dublin crowd perhaps? 'Seven' is a great track from the new album, with a fine groove, and helped get the crowd dancing. Many in attendance would not have been hardcore fans, but Dave Matthews Band definitely won them over.

This was my first time hearing 'The Stone' (I also saw DMB on the 5th of August 2006 in New York at Randall's Island), and it was amazing. Definitely one of the highlights for me. Violinist Boyd Tinsley shone on this one - he's a member who has gotten a lot of stick recently, but really grabs his chance. 'Crash into Me' was played by Dave & Tim, but amazingly not at the last full band show, so this was an easy crowd favourite. It was also the Point's first experience of 'Crush' from Before These Crowded Streets, one of my favourite DMB tunes, and a gorgeous song live.

'Where Are You Going?' had the crowd in liveliest vocal form, as most of the crowd here knew it. It's another song written off by fans who've heard it many times over in the US, but it sounded great on its Irish debut last night. I must say I screamed the lyrics. 'Why I Am' is one of my favourite new tunes, and a lovely tribute to band member LeRoi Moore (who sadly died in 2008). It was followed by another new song, the single 'You and Me', which sounded quite sweet - and perhaps became a future wedding song for some of the couples in the audience.

'You Might Die Trying' is one of the few songs from the awful Stand Up that has stuck around, and it has been vastly improved on stage. It's so much funkier than before, and kept the mood high, before the legendary cover 'All Along the Watchtower' closed the main set. It was another Irish debut, and one that most of the crowd knew. It ended the main set brilliantly, and left the audience gagging for more.

As the show headed for its 11:00 p.m. curfew, the band ran out of time to play an extended encore. Still, it was infinitely better than the 'Sister', 'Stay', 'Smooth Rider' car crash of an encore I saw in New York in 2006 (that main set was incredible though, featuring Bela Fleck & the Flecktones). Allegedly 'Spaceman' and 'Dive In' from the new album as well as classics 'Two Step' and 'Grey Street' had to be cut from the setlist, which is a major pity.

Instead we got 'Baby Blue' solo and then 'CornBread' to end a marvellous night. 'CornBread' wasn't the ideal last song, but it is somewhat worthy, and has improved greatly since 2007.

A fantastic show, where the band played their hearts out, and surely won over many more converts. However, I suggest somewhere like Vicar Street, the Ambassador, or perhaps the new Grand Canal Theatre may be a better venue next time around, where the band is sure to sell 100% of the tickets available.

Watch 'Gravedigger' from last night's O2 show:

5 comments:

Peter N said...

To my eyes that gig was probably the most advertised gig ever! Great review sir, written by an obvious fan of the band.

sarxos said...

Looks like Dublin got a better line-up than Amsterdam. Ah well I should be home for the next time they play.

Ronan said...

Thanks Peter. Love DMB - obvious by the fact I went to see them in NYC!

Yeah, they've been advertising a lot recently. That's because it sold poorly, probably due to them not being a huge name here. Venue choice was wrong, imo. There was touts outside selling tickets for "less than face value". First time I've ever seen that.

Ronan said...

Sarxos (Niall): Yeah, I think the six song run at the start of the Amsterdam show upset the applecart a bit. Perhaps if they had spaced out the new songs a bit more. Your encore was a million times better, plus you got Jimi Thing and Burning Down the House. And 32 seconds of Sugar Will is a million times better than no Sugar Will.

Anonymous said...

Great review, it was my first dmb gig as i was in oz in 2007 for his solo and band performance - i suppose being biased and a fan since the mid 90's I taught it was awesome, big disappointment of the night probably the crowd, but hey that part i ll forget the gig not so likely, again great review.