Review by SShepard|
4 stars out of 4
This latest double live album release from the Dave Matthews Band, is
an engaging and delightful example of the appeal of the Charlottesville,
Virginia five piece. The album's clever title pays homage to the rabid
brethren who have been packing in arenas and amphitheaters since
1995 and thrive off the spontaneity and energy of the band's smooth
and unique sound. Much like 1997's "Live At Red Rocks", "Listener Supported"
showcases the band's snappy pop numbers, Mr. Matthews clever and
thoughtful lyrics, and the ever present under-currents of a jazz
band hard at work.
The album gets off to a ripping start with Rapunzel and also drops the
first hints as to the real star of this show, horn player Leroi Moore.
Mr. Moore's sax playing for the ending "jam" is sultry and smooth with
the rest of the band popping and snapping to a glorious climax.
#41, a fan favorite, is a testament to Mr. Moore's flexibility as he
swiftly maneuvers between a flute and his saxophone. His nearly
four minute sax solo is breezy and in perfect harmony with the always
changing tempo of Carter Beauford's drumming.
Mr. Moore also gets cooking on Jimi Thing, which is lyrically a clever ode
to nature's finest herb. The groove is part soul, part funk, and
Mr. Moore takes his time whipping his sax into a frenzy of high
notes and nearly bringing down the house. Both #41 and Jimi Thing
are off Disc 1. Other standouts of Disc 1 are Crash Into Me which
features the band building slowly to a downright sexy peak while Mr.
Matthews sweetly sings his heartfelt pleas for attention as well as #36,
a groovy mellowed out improvisational number.
Disc 2 is almost as engaging as the 1st but it certainly doesn't
start out that way. Too Much, one of the band's most recognizable radio
songs is a bore as is the following True Reflections. Violinist
Boyd Tinsley is successful with the lead vocals on True Reflections but
the song is lacking the playful energy of the other songs.
One of the strangest enigmas of the album is Two Step, a down-home stomp
in 6/8 time with a call for everyone to celebrate. The song rails with
passion until the ending jam, which is given to supporting keyboard player
Butch Taylor. Taylor's stiff playing causes the song to meander to an almost
dead halt before Mr. Beauford can save it with a knock your socks off
drum fill that lasts in the neighborhood of 1 minute and 10 seconds.
The rest of disc 2 is the band at their finest. Granny swings with catchy
harmony as does the set closer Stay, and the band turns in a powerful and
grinding version of Don't Drink the Water. Water moves the band into
great issue oriented song territory as vocally it's sung from the
point of view of the greedy, slave-owning, white man and chronicles
the banishment of the Native American Indian off North American soil.
However the crown jewel of Disc 2 is a cover of the Johnny Cash song
Long Black Veil. Mr. Beauford provides an eerily catchy backbeat and the
musicians gel perfectly for a dark and beautiful tale. In the right kind
of mood Long Black Veil can move you to tears. The album closes with a
nod to Bob Dylan with a ferocious version of All Along the Watchtower.
"Listener Supported" is not for everybody but it should be. It's
refreshing to listen to 5 musicians as opposed to pretty faces
and loud guitars. With yet another live album and sold out tour after
tour the Dave Matthews Band are moving, dare I say, into Grateful Dead
territory in appeal. Are the Dave Matthews Band the Dead? Obviously not
but they don't have to be. The times are different as well as the players
but the appeal is the same. It's about the joy and release of great
live music and "Listener Supported" is a celebration of it.
Track Listing, DISC 1: Intro, Pantala Naga Pampa, Rapunzel, Rhyme or Reason,
The Stone, #41, Crash Into Me, Jimi Thing, #36, Warehouse
Track Listing, DISC 2: Too Much, True Reflections, Two Step, Granny,
Stay (Wasting Time), #40, Long Black Veil, Don't Drink the Water,
Intro To All Along the Watchtower.
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great review! This guy is right on the money with his comments
about this album.
--jc lebowski III
This review's got great appeal...now I feel even worse that I
passed on the tix to see the live show.
Stellar review! SShepard has his finger on the pulse of not only the band,
but on the music itself. Superb!