Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dave Matthews Band - Live Trax Volume 2

Back by popular demand (and because she asked me to keep writing), it's husband's blog post.  Next up in the series of Live Trax album reviews, Live Trax Volume 2.

DMB Live Trax Volume 2

1) One Sweet World
2) What Would You Say
3) So Much to Say » Anyone Seen the Bridge »
4) Pantala Naga Pampa »  Rapunzel
5) Joyride
6) #41
7) The Best of What's Around
8) Lie in Our Graves
9) The Stone
10) Drive In Drive Out
11) Loving Wings »
12) Where Are You Going
13) Hello Again
14) Jimi Thing
15) Warehouse »
16) Sugar Will
17) All Along the Watchtower
18) Stay (Wasting Time)
19) Everyday
20) Too Much

After the initial release in this series, LT1, fans immediately began asking (with renewed intensity) for their favorite shows to be released.  12.31.1996, 7.10.2004, 12.3.1998, 2.19.1996, etc, etc.  This pick for the second show, which was performed some three months before, was confusing to fans.

Nick-named "Central Park West" as an homage to the very similar in style Central Part Concert played one year earlier in New York City, this particular show definitely falls into the category of "historically significant" rather than "great."  Although it's certainly got a few highlights, the majority of the show is rather plain to me.

One of the surprises of this set is a guest spot from Carlos Santana, the legendary guitar player.  Santana played occasionally with Dave and band in the late 90s and early 2000s.  Dave and Carter recorded a couple of tunes with Santana for his album Supernatural, and Santana played on DMB's album Everyday.

The show starts with a solid One Sweet World and What Would You Say before entering into the So Much To Say >> Rapunzel combination which had been a tour staple both in this year and the previous one.  Next comes the first of three of the four "major" new songs introduced during the summer 2004 tour and played almost every night.  Joyride has always been a throw away song for me (it never stuck), and it slows the show after a quick opening.  #41 is placed well next in the set but this particular version is a bit of a mess.  Carter and Dave both flub parts (Carter the introduction, Dave sings a verse twice).  It never comes off the rails but it definitely misses the mark.

The show immediately picks back up steam though with what is, to some fans, the definitive version of The Best Of What's Around.  It's not my favorite, but it's definitely a highlight of the first disc.  Lie In Our Graves is also a standout.

Skipping ahead, I'm not a huge fan of Drive In, Drive Out or Loving Wings (blasphemy, I know).  I could take or leave Where Are You Going, although this is a nice version.  This is followed by another new summer 2004 song, Hello Again, which, although better than Joyride, is still in the bottom half of the catalog for me.  Jimi Thing is next with a very long politically charged scat from Dave which, although playing to the audience in 2004 prior to the Presidential election, as immortalized on tape, really dates and distracts from the show.  Recapping this part of the set, there's not anything in here that I revisit with any regularity.

Next up, Santana comes out to surprise of most everyone and immediately scorches Warehouse (a song the band almost always nails).  The final summer 2004 song to make it's appearance in this set is Sugar Will.  I appreciate the guitar solo, but the song is not a favorite of mine either.  (The only one of the big four debuts in 2004 I really like, Crazy Easy, didn't make this set.  The other 2004 debut I really enjoyed, which didn't get played at every show, was Good Good Time and that really was more of a loose jam than a song.)  Carlos adds another solo into Watchtower (which is good) and he's done for the show.  The main set ends with Stay, which I honestly forgot had closed the main set until I went back to do this review.

The encore is definitely lacking.  Everyday was being used as an E1 a lot at this point in time.  I never got into it.  And Too Much, although it was spectacular in 2004, feels like the mint on your pillow at a fancy hotel when you haven't eaten any dinner.

So, summing up the highlights, you have a good opening run, The Best Of What's Around, and Carlos Santana.  That's about a third of this set which is memorable to me.  As far as the sound on this release, a lot of fans didn't like it at all.  I don't find it particularly offensive by any means, but it certainly isn't an album that when I listen to I think "the sound guy really  got that one."

To reiterate an earlier point, fans were confused when this show was released.  It wasn't considered a specatular show at the time (although the Santana spot was well received), and it had just been played three months earlier.  This series, at first thought, was supposed to go through the archives and find the gems of the band - not something that was just played.  Why wasn't this put in stores?  Were all the shows going to be this way going forward?  Is this the best we were going to get out of this series?  This wasn't even considered one of the top shows of 2004, and yet it warranted a release?  What gives?

I honestly don't know that the series has ever recovered from this release from that standpoint.  Certainly this show is unfairly viewed in that light.  Fans are extremely picky and wanted something else entirely - something that was never promised.  The archives weren't going to be opened wide, but rather carefully cultivated with some significant current shows thrown in the mix.  The series is certainly not a let down, but it's not what people thought it was going to be.

Overall, I'd grade this show as a 2 out of 5.  There are some great versions of songs on disc 1, and the Santana guest spot is memorable.  Otherwise, for me, it's a lot of lower half songs that I don't revisit all that often.  I know it's higher for some folks than others, but this one ends up towards the bottom of the pile for me.

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