ROME (February 24) - The prayers were heard and after several petitions a kindhearted promoter (D'Alessandro & Galli) worked to bring the Dave Matthews Band to Rome, an only seemingly risky business, given the six thousand tickets sold in a flash. Over thirty million albums sold worldwide, top rank in the charts, endlessly touring and always sold out: this is the DMB in the States, while in Europe the band is still relatively unknown considering its quality and fame at home.
The first glance last night was immediately exciting. A stage without distracting frills. Dave Matthews in the centre with his acoustic guitar, offering flawless falsetto and percussive moments, his voice engaged in an impeccable range. A polite, regular looking guy, able to hold the stage without being self-centered. Around him the pyrotechnic rhythmic section (Stefan Lessard on bass, Carter Beauford on drums), electric violin (Boyd Tinsley), trumpet player Rashawn Ross, saxophonist Jeff Coffin, guitarist Tim Reynolds, in a harmony that is reminiscent of the charms of the E Street Band with Springsteen. Seven musicians glued together like Siamese twins, seeking connections until they find the perfect agreement. A true jam band with no predefined script, and even when the setlist is the same (a rare occurrence), they play the songs differently every time.
It's relatively important to know the titles, the songs are both instrumentally and physically overwhelming, a whirlwind of folk, rock, blues. Like good designers, they set the musical stage and paint the music to recreate landscapes: Louisiana, New Orleans, the traditional Mardi Gras parade, the delirium of the French Quarter, a liberating party that leaves some melancholy at the bottom of a shot of whiskey. The latest album "Big Whiskey And The GrooGrux King" (a return to the sound that distinguished them up to "Before These Crowded Streets") comes from the human and professional loss of saxophone player LeRoi Moore, but after that shock the band reacted and turned the sadness into the joy of creation and participation. "Why I Am" is a toast to LeRoi. The concert starts with the ballad "Lying In The Hands of God", then "Shake Me Like A Monkey" and the single "Funny The Way It Is ". From Big Whiskey are also "Seven", "Spaceman", "Alligator Pie", while in the encore Dave Matthews by himself performs a moving "Baby Blue".
"You Might Die Trying" gives us Tim Reynolds' solo. Tim's virtuosity is not based on speed but on flavour. From the past comes "Warehouse", and the audience joins the band in a song that grows to almost reach Gregorian chanting style. To follow the beautiful "Don't Drink the Water", "Crash Into Me" and "Crush", where the conversation between violin and electric guitar turns into a duel to the last musical note.
The songs rise like toasts, both intimate and festive, taking us back to 1991 in Charlottesville, when Dave Matthews was bartending at Miller's and some of his customers would later become his musicians. The concert is an open rehearsal, a continuous flow. There is no show. They are the show, regular guys with exceptional gifts, who can shape the songs like clay, adding whatever is in the air, and having fun while they go into instrumental queues. There is a moment for each one of them: a slap from the bass that brings a groove, the beat of the drums, an outburst of the sax. All this without forgetting the value of the melody. After "Gray Street" comes the wild country crescendo of "Two Step", then "The Maker" (cover of Daniel Lanois), the scat in "Jimi Thing," and also the funky tribute to Prince's "Sexy MF".
People go home with two hours and three quarters of live show in the blood. Never heard such a good sound at the Palalottomatica, thanks to the excellent arrangements (the instruments have a precise location without overlapping), and thanks to the sound manager and the professionalism of the Dave Matthews Band. Last chance to enjoy this purifying experience after the 'Sanremo ordeal' is February 25 in Padua.
Il Messaggero (february 2010)