Thursday, February 04, 2016

Dave Matthews Band - Live Trax 7

Guest post by TC

DMB Live Trax Volume 7
12.31.1996

1) Seek Up
2) Dancing Nancies »
3) Warehouse
4) Say Goodbye
5) Satellite
6) Rhyme & Reason
7) Two Step
8) Crash into Me
9) So Much to Say »
10) Anyone Seen the Bridge »
11) Too Much
Set Break
12) Tripping Billies
13) Lie in Our Graves
14) #41 »
15) Minarets
16) Typical Situation
17) Ants Marching
18) All Along the Watchtower

I saw a message board post from a guy who is involved with the DMBAlmanac.com site, archiving and cataloging information about the live performances of DMB.  He said, essentially, that when the Live Trax series was announced back in 2004 there were three shows which came to mind that should be released: 12.8.1998 (Live Trax 1), 12.31.1996 (this show), and 2.19.1996 (Live Trax 23 - I'll get there).

When the series was announced, this show was one of the ones fans mentioned constantly as wanting to have it relased.  It is considered as one of the top 5 concerts from this band, ever, if not the single best.  Taking place on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day (technically), the band wore tuxedos and guested with the Flecktones for a lot of the night.  The performances speak for themselves.  It's definitely one of the great ones.

The beginning of the set through Rhyme & Reason is the band by themselves.  All of these are good versions of songs although I wouldn't call anything particularly a stand out.  Two Step brings Bela Fleck to the stage, one of his earliest guest spots, and Paul McCandless joins Bela and band for Crash Into Me.  This Crash Into Me is the highlight of the show as far as I'm concerned.  One small lyric flub, which really isn't all that noticeable, is the only thing keeping this particular version from being perfect.  Even still, it's the best Crash ever released to me.  The band finishes up the first set of the night with the relatively recently formed So Much to Say >> Too Much suite (see Live Trax 4 review for discussion).

I left the set break on this listing as the recording includes the audience counting down to 1997.  The band then is right on stage, with Bela (who stays until the encore), for Tripping Billies and Lie in our Graves.  It's hard to pick whether I want Leroi or Bela to solo on this song.  I go back and forth.  Bela here is perfect.  I can't chart music, but I can pick that solo out in my head note for note.  The rest of the Flecktones join in on the fun at this point and go through #41, Minarets, Typical Situation, and Ants Marching with the band.

The only knock on this show is this #41.  It drags a bit for me.

I so do wish that Paul McCandless was miked better during his Typical Situation solo with Leroi.  He's very hard to hear on the recording.  It's unfortunate, but he's there, and he and Leroi are fantastic.  The Minarets is largely considered to be the finest version ever recorded (again, I'm in the minority which says it's not), and Ants is one of the early extended outros to let Bela solo along with Boyd.  There is a loose jam session between Typical and Ants for 5 or 6 minutes which is captured on the recording but that I left off the setlist as it doesn't really develop into anything.

The encore is a single song, All Along the Watchtower, which pretty much closed out every show for the band at every major gig for several years.  It's standard to me.  It would've been great to have something very different close this show, maybe The Best of What's Around, but given the setlist and the time period of the band and the year that they had just had (Crash came out in 1996), there really wasn't any other choice to close the set.

The sound on this one isn't perfect.  Of course, there's 9 people on stage for a good portion of this show too.  I'm thankful the band listened to the fans and put this one out there even though it wasn't a perfect recording.  It's a fantastic show that should be in every fan's collection.  I know I listen to it frequently still and enjoy it every time.  Another easy 5 of 5 stars, and certainly a show I would share with friends who don't know this band and was curious as to why I'm into them so much.  If you don't like DMB after listening to this, then you don't like DMB.
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