Dave Matthews Band

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author PP date 30/10/15 venue Tap 1, Copenhagen, DEN

"Hey, I know this one", I overheard a concert guest say with a surprised expression as Dave Matthews Band started their set with "Warehouse" at the sold out, 6000-capacity Tap1 arena located within the old Carlsberg brewery complex. Considering tickets tonight were around 650 DKK a piece, you'd expect the crowd to be a little more knowledgeable about the band. But as we've come to see in many a mainstream rock concert in Copenhagen, the vast majority of the audience only knows a hit or two that's been played on the radio at some point. Indeed, tonight's audience mostly consists of people approaching their 40s, family men and women who by no means can be classified as music enthusiasts judging both by their appearance but also by the conversations I keep hearing during the lead up to the concert. So much for euphoria-laden sing-alongs.

The queue to get into Tap1 is organized but long; the same are the lines to the beer and the wardrobe, so at least half of the audience has significant trouble getting into the venue by the scheduled 8 pm start time. Fortunately, the band and/or the venue recognizes that as a problem and the show is postponed until everyone has managed to squeeze into the venue by around 20 minutes past. Thumbs up for the organizers on this one - and another one for the reasonable 50,- DKK individual pint price or 40 DKK if you bought five at once. Puts Vega's ridiculous 65 DKK at a perspective, doesn't it?

Dave Matthews Band

As with all DMB shows, the event is themed as 'An Evening With...', so no support band is needed as we spend more than two and a half hours in the company with Dave Matthews and his crew. The stage setup is what you'd expect from a production of this size. Thousands of LED lights form a wall behind the band that functions both as a colour-changing background but also as a video screen which juxtaposes the band performing with quirky visualizations that bring to mind Windows Media Player from the old times. Interesting enough to keep your eyes fixated on the screen when there's less happening stage but not so invasive as to hypnotize you away from the band's cheerful and vivid performance magic, as I like to call their freeform mixture of funk, jazz, and alternative rock presented in a freely experimental format.

"Warehouse" is therefore an excellent introduction to tonight's set. It's a seven minute mammoth which contains a little bit of everything: Dave Matthews' sublime vocals that borrow just enough from 90s grunge to push all the right buttons at a crowd who were all young during the golden era of rock music, jazzy sections with playful violins, smooth saxophone, and an outrageous trumpet solo that has the crowd cheering wildly, and the unconventional and textured percussion by drummer Carter Beauford. To call it jam rock is exactly right: the band look totally natural and exhibit a distinct aura of joy for playing music while they are jamming on stage together. "Tusind tak!", Dave says showcasing some of the limited Danish he's picked up on before the show. "This song is the same song as the last song, except for the lyrics and the music", he continues, giving us a taste of his quirky personality that has always been a rather talked about characteristic, just before launching into "Seven".

Some of the material is clearly more radio rock oriented in stark contrast to the organic jam rock that flavors much of the other songs. This means band members clear stage when they're not needed: the trumpeter and the saxophonist often skip out to leave the spotlight for Dave with his acoustic guitar and the rest of the band. It creates a fluid dynamic when something is happening on stage the whole time - even though the band are not exactly standing still. The bassist, for instance, is in constant small movement, and who can blame him? Most of the music is sexy and invites you to move your body to the experimental jazz-rock rhythms. Dave is also good in moving the spotlight away from him when necessary, taking a position at the side of the stage when the cameras turn to violinist Boyd Tinsley who delivers a fantastic solo while sporting the hugest grin on his face. This type of exuberant joy of playing is so clearly visible on all band members on stage it has an infectious effect on the crowd.

"Grave Digger" sees a sing along for the first time tonight being one of the band's radio hits, but to be honest, tonight is not about euphoric mass sing-alongs as we see at, say, Muse concerts. Instead, the band are actually at their best when they concentrate on the mass jamming sections with all instruments playing off each other in perfect harmony. The band look and feel brilliant on stage during these moments, and so even though the "What I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed is all around me" section of "Jimi Thing" draws a loud sing-along from the crowd, it fades in comparison to the mass jam sessions. "I mean what the fuck was thaaaaaaaaaat...", even Dave comments after one such example, before following with words we've all been thinking: "My face hurts from smiling". At 90 minutes, the show that was perhaps a slow starter keeps on getting better and better. An earlier piano-based ballad left yours truly a little bored, but the many jams that come afterward reach into near-perfection. As such, the 'normal' tracks feel only solid in comparison because the band are at their very best during the jammed out, free-form sessions because of how natural they feel.

Eventually, dozens of red balloons are thrown into the crowd before a lengthy encore leaves us waiting for "The Space Between", which draws the biggest sing-along from the crowd tonight being one of the band's biggest radio hits. Two more songs including, appropriately, "Halloween" finish the set at two and a half hours or so. That's what you can call your money's worth, and even though true magic was missing (which is often the case with big arena shows like these), I can't help but think Dave Matthews Band would be perfect for Orange Stage at Roskilde given their music's non-mainstream nature.

Setlist:

  • 1. Warehouse
  • 2. When the World Ends
  • 3. Seven
  • 4. Crush
  • 5. Don't Drink the Water
  • 6. Death on the High Seas
  • 7. Gravedigger (Dave Matthews song)
  • 8. Rooftop
  • 9. Say Goodbye
  • 10. Jimi Thing
  • 11. Grey Street
  • 12. If Only
  • 13. What Would You Say
  • 14. Kill the Preacher (partial)
  • 15. Why I Am
  • 16. You Might Die Trying
  • --Encore--
  • 17. The Space Between
  • 18. Ants Marching (fake)
  • 19. Halloween

Photos by: Nikola Majkic

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