Thursday, January 07, 2016

Dave Matthews Band - Live Trax Volume 3

On March 17, 2005, Live Trax Volume 3 was released.  If you aren't familiar with downloading shows or tape trading for Dave Matthews Band, this show may not have been on your radar until that day.  Afterwards though, at least for the vast majority of fans, it's a show that hasn't left the rotation since.

DMB Live Trax Volume 3
08.27.2000

1) Dancing Nancies
2) Seek Up
3) Linus and Lucy
4) Pantala Naga Pampa » Rapunzel
5) I'll Back You Up
6) Busted Stuff
7) Recently
8) Raven
9) The Maker
10) Grey Street
11) Grace Is Gone
12) Say Goodbye
13) Bartender
14) JTR
15) Ants Marching
16) The Stone
17) Drive In Drive Out

This is widely regarded as the best of the Live Trax series.  We're 36 shows in and it still seems there is a general consensus that it doesn't get any better than this particular album.  The 2000 Summer Tour is in the running for the best ever (at least among fans).  The band was in the height of their popularity in the eyes of the general public as well.  During this tour, Butch Taylor guested on most of the shows including this one.

The show begins with over 30 minutes of music straight.  Dancing Nancies slowly builds to it's climax before giving way to the open notes of Dave's guitar on Seek Up.  Seek Up, some 17 minutes later, gives way to the second Linus & Lucy interpolation in the Live Trax series (up to this point, 2 of the 3 albums had this).  This particular version is my favorite as it is driven much more with the saxophone than the piano.  Eventually, the opening notes of Pantala Naga Pampa break through and open what I consider to be my favorite version of Rapunzel.  The ending jam is perfect in my mind, note for note.  I wouldn't change a thing.

The show slows down a bit with I'll Back You Up and a jazzy rendition of Busted Stuff.  For a long time, unless you were a member of the fan club (or knew how to find music online without paying for it), this was the only official version of Busted Stuff to which you had access.  I wish it was followed up by the full version of Recently, but the truncated version is what was performed that night.

At the time of the show Busted Stuff was a new song, still unrecorded (officially), and would surface the following year on The Lillywhite Sessions.  The band's unfinished sessions were leaked around the same time their new album, Everyday, was released in 2001.  Although the summer 2000 songs eventually were recorded officially for 2002's Busted Stuff, the 2000 Lillywhite Sessions were the way fans were exposed to them first.  However, on this night, the band played six of those new songs which really does make this a unique show.

Raven, the second of the new songs, is up next.  As much as I want to love this version, and as much as I do love how well it's played, the jibberish of the unfinished lyrics takes it down a notch for me.  "Pickle in your bed" may excite a lot of fans, but to me, it's ridiculous.  It's such a shame too as Leroi is perfect on it.

The Maker is up next, always a fun cover.  Grey Street, another new song, follows.  By this point, the verses (all three!) were fairly well set and the chorus, although slightly different from what would ultimately be recorded and released on Busted Stuff, is fairly well set as well.  The differences are not enough to take away from the song though, and the extended jam at the end has almost an entirely different sound to the Grey Street which serves as a set or encore closer at concerts today.  Grace is Gone is next, played with a bit more subdued sound than which it was ultimately recorded and subsequently toured with.  These 2000 versions are my favorite for this song, although I prefer the one recorded from two nights later (08.29.2000, Live Trax 11) a little bit more.

Say Goodbye is very similar to the one recorded for the Best of What's Around live disc, and this one is also very good.  My personal favorite version of Bartender follows next.  The intensity of it is unmatched on any other recorded version in my opinion (with a notable exception of the 8.19.2008 version for obvious reasons).  And yes, I hear you 4.7.2002 people...I still like this one better.  I don't question the way Dave does at the end of that version either which makes it much less compelling for me.

JTR is the final new song of the night and this is a stellar version.  The whole run from Raven to Ants Marching never really slows down and every version of the song is in contention for the best performance.  Speaking of this Ants Marching, a lot of people will defend this one as their favorite.  It's definitely up there.

The encore starts strong with The Stone, but, if I do have a down note on this show, it's ending on Drive In Drive Out.  Again, not a personal favorite of mine.  This was a common one-two punch in shows during this time so I understand it and I know why people think it's the best encore ever...it's just not for me.

The mix on this album is also one that most people consider to be the strongest of any of the Live Trax.  It definitely fits the songs well and is enjoyable, but best is hard to say...it's up there.

The entire show is placed at the perfect pace.  It just never gets ahead of itself too much.  It's restrained.  The band is on fire and every song is tight.  To me, it's one of the peaks of the series.  If you don't own it, you need to own it.  You won't regret it.  5 out of 5 stars, easy.
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