This past weekend, The Dave Matthews Band once again returned to the faithful in Colorado and performed back-to-back sold out shows at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre in Englewood. With a capacity of 18,000, each night was filled to the brim with both the casual listener and die-hard fan looking to catch a little more of the summertime magic those outdoor venues in the Rockies hold before the chilly nights set in and audiences are relegated to the indoors.
Friday and Saturday’s shows both clocked in at two and a half hours and consisted of twenty-two songs each, with no repeats, and the expected dynamic energy that this versatile band is known for. As this was the group’s first return to their “home away from home” since 2019, the band certainly seemed to have brought their A game from start to finish and the audience was all too happy to engage in the revelry and outpouring of emotion.
Friday night’s show opened with an improv filled, extended “Seek Up” that almost hit the 20-minute mark and signaled the audience that the band was glad to be back. Tim Reynolds was on fire from the start, while Rashawn Ross and Jeff Coffin showed that no matter the altitude, they got the lungs to go mile high. Following the high-octane opener, “Satellite” launched and showered the crowd with wistful lyrics and lilting pleasantries that had the crowd swaying and singing along.
At this point, Dave took the time to thank the crowd and acknowledge how thrilled the band was about being out doing what they love. The rest of the evening included tracks from almost all of the studio catalog, with a third deriving from Under the Table and Dreaming and Crash. Many selections on the setlists timed out at 8 minutes or more, energizing the audience and reflecting that for both sides of the stage, the jam is just as important as the lyrical angle. Dave and Company kept it to originals throughout, which seemed appropriate for their first Centennial visit in over two years.
The sextet operates like a well-oiled, morphing machine, twisting, turning, and ever-changing shape and in it, there truly is no weak link. The history that the majority share runs deep, and one can hear the miles of measures played out nightly. Relative newcomer (2018) Buddy Strong is certainly no slouch and works his three-sided keyed pit with proficiency and tastefulness that one would think he had been with the group since the beginning. His demeanor and wide grin show just how happy he is to be gigging with his band mates.
Carter Beauford, like a kid in a candy store with a smile stretched face, continues to baffle the eyes and ears with his abilities and it is obvious that after decades of play, he is still up for more. Stefan Lessard executes the low-end effortlessly, stretching from the delicate to the raucous, and making it look so easy.
Tim Reynolds is one cool cat, unassuming and casual, and throughout the weekend, he let his fingers doing the talking and boy did they have much to say. The horn section of Ross and Coffin is a dynamic duo who operate both as a powerful conglomerate as well as standalone players. Neither are contained to just the charts and display complete comfort is stretching out and getting weird and fiery.
Finally, Dave Matthews. This gentleman, like so many in his circle, demonstrates an obvious inner joy in what he is doing that the onlooker can feel his deep appreciation of his place as well as the giddy get down that keeps him creating and driving for more. His ability to sing and maintain the odd timings that are a cornerstone of his music continue to surprise the critical ear while fueling the spirit of those who approach his craft from a more visceral approach.
In the end, the only regret for this attendee was that I could only catch night one. As a studio dabbler for years and this being my first live experience with the band, I was impressed with the group’s ability to maintain continuity in the live setting, especially throughout all the changes and angular dynamics that their catalog encompasses. It was also refreshing to see this group give their all and visibly enjoying the shared experience.
Leaving the venue, it was great to hear that my take on the expertise and emotion of the performance was not a solitary one, especially when the report was coming from fans who had been seeing the band for decades. In the end, it is clear that the wheels are not coming off this group anytime soon and if you have the chance to catch any of the handful of dates left on the tour, do it. Your smile will be widened, your heart filled, and you just might contemplate how you too will get to the next DMB show.