The essence of the reborn Dave Matthews Band in a live performance: the 2009 concert in Lucca in 3 CDs, the live DVD at the Brixton Academy, and a photobook. Overwhelming.
There is no doubt that Italy holds a special place in Dave Matthews' heart. After giving its Italian fans the privilege of experiencing the longest concert of its history in Lucca last July 5, the Dave Matthews Band announced a new European tour with three dates in Italy at the end of February. Moreover, 3 CDs with the Lucca concert are part of the elegant box set DMB Europe 2009, together with the DVD Across the Pond and the beautiful photobook by C. Taylor Crothers - the band's official photographer.
The concert in Lucca got an in-depth review in the 162 issue of JAM: three and a half hours of intense, boundless music, during which an enthusiastic audience interacted with an amazingly inspired and involving band. Those who were lucky enough to be there don't need any convincing to buy the box set, live that experience again and be able to say 'I was there!'. Those who weren't there should not miss this opportunity to listen to the longest and maybe most moving DMB concert. The DMB non-stop live activity offers stunning numbers - they gained the top live act of the decade nomination by the U.S. magazine Pollstar, doing better than U2 and Rolling Stones, and ranked on 7th place in the Billboard Top Touring Acts list with the largest number of concerts and spectators.
Across the Pond offers the amazing concert at the prestigious Brixton Academy that took place last June 26 (with extra tracks from the previous evening). The intimate and cozy atmosphere of the London venue (unthinkable in the huge American tours) allowed director Sam Erickson to capture the essence of the band's live experience through new images and perspectives, so that the audience can almost feel like they are on stage as well, and can share the special connection the band started creating with its european fans. Carter Beauford, amazing drummer and the band's power engine, is the star of some of the most spectacular shots ever seen in a DMB show.
For the first time in an official DMB live record there have been a few cuts. In spite of intense negotiations, the band's management had no permission to use Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin (performed during All Along the Watchtower), a riff from Heartbreaker (which Tim plays during Anyone Seen the Bridge), I'll Be There (Dave's tribute to Michael Jackson, who passed away the day before the London show), and Sexy Mother Fucker by Prince (outro of Jimy Thing in Lucca).
DMB Europe 2009 was conceived as the ideal complement to Big Whiskey And The GrooGrux King - the big superdeluxe version of which fits inside the box set - and as a testimony of a 'creative redemption' that is now complete. The studio album went platinum during the first few weeks of its release and got two Grammy nominations (Best Rock Album and Album of the Year), thus showing that the band has been able to overcome the complex and painful internal vicissitudes (which almost brought them to break apart a few years ago) and the tragic and sudden loss of saxophonist LeRoi Moore in August 2008. The two concerts included in the box set capture the renewed enthusiasm and great energy the band put into the extraordinary European tour, confirming their fame of terrific musicians. After a long career, they still have fun on stage like kids, and play with ease, passion and outstanding quality - going from rock to jazz to pop, from rhythm & blues to bluegrass to funk, to intense ballads and eastern-like or psychedelic hypnotic sounds, and merging all the different genres into an original sound that escapes any labelling.
The spectacular jams do not serve individual virtuosity. They are there to serve the beautiful songs Dave writes: with one of the most moving voices around, he tells of the endless shapes of love, a wide range that goes from intense sweetness to the raw and enraged depths of darker pain.
The guest stars are now integral part of the band's rebirth: virtuoso electric guitar player Tim Reynolds; the amazing saxophonist Jeff Coffin (of Béla Fleck And The Flecktones) who immediately harmonized with Carter Beauford, making their duets a physical and visual pleasure (if you need proof, just watch and listen to #41 in the Brixton Academy DVD and the concert in Lucca CD). Jeff was able to perfectly combine with the most versatile open jam band in the current music scene. The horn section is completed by the irreplaceable latin jazz trumpet player Rashawn Ross, who also joins Carter Beauford in providing the core of backing vocals.
The box set DMB Europe 2009 is the best DMB release to date, both in image quality and accuracy of sound mixing, and in the perfect balance between new songs and great classics. It is available on the band's official store, online European stores and main Italian music stores (at import price). The mp3 of the live in Lucca is available on Amazon U.S. site.
To go full circle, the double CD Live in Las Vegas is in pre-order on the official store. It includes Dave and Tim's acoustic version of the songs from Big Whiskey, such as an extraordinary Squirm and an outstanding Lying In The Hands of God.