Thursday, March 24, 2016

Dave Matthews Band - Live Trax Volume 13

My review of all of the DMB Live Trax series continues with what was, at least at the time, another recent release - this one coming out four months after the show had taken place.

DMB Live Trax Volume 13
06.07.2008

1) Two Step
2) Rhyme & Reason
3) Corn Bread
4) Crash into Me »
5) One Sweet World
6) #27
7) So Damn Lucky
8) Crush
9) Don't Drink The Water
10) Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)
11) Pay For What You Get
12) Recently »
13) Water Into Wine »
14) Tripping Billies
15) Grey Street
16) You Might Die Trying
17) Ants Marching
18) Everyday
19) Louisiana Bayou
20) Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

A lot happened to DMB during 2008.  First, a little history.

Stand Up, the band's polarizing (that's the kindest way I can put it - read: disliked by almost everyone) album comes out in 2005.  The following year's summer tour is very heavy on those songs and is considered one of the weakest tours.  In 2006, the band starts strong in the first month of the tour but eventually settles back into the Stand Up bleh routine.  Rashawn is on board in 2006 and is seen by some (not by me) as cutting out a lot of Leroi's solos and the interplay between himself and Boyd on stage.  In 2007, it doesn't seem to be getting much better.  The band almost breaks up but decides to keep going (at least, according to rumor).

I'm not sure what all exactly happened during those times.  I thought 2007 was a little better than 2006 with the band trying to take some chances and mix it up a little bit.  But, for many, this period was a major turnoff.

Enter 2008.  Tim Reynolds, longtime friend, occasional guest, and definitely someone with whom the band recorded multiple albums with, returns on electric guitar for the entire summer tour.  Rumors persist that he's in the studio for the band's next record.  Meanwhile, just a few days before the start of the summer tour, Butch Taylor, who has played every show with the band since early in the summer tour of 2001, is announced as leaving the band and pursuing other interests.

I have no idea what happened or why.  I don't like to speculate either.  All that can be said for sure is that DMB 2.0 came to an end and DMB 3.0 emerged from its ashes.

And it was a welcomed emergence.

June 2008 was a fantastic month to be a fan.  The songs were fresh (thanks Tim), the band was re-energized, and there were more and more surprises coming out each and every show.

Then, it's heartbreak as Leroi has an accident on an ATV.  He's out for the rest of the tour.  Enter Jeff Coffin.  Jeff, music stand and all, joins in July 2008 and carries on through the rest of the tour (minus one date in Cincinnati) and, ultimately, carries on with the band as Leroi passes away in August.

It's a full year, with a lot of change - personally and musically.

This particular show was released after the tour was over.  It's Leroi's first show released after he'd passed away.  Live Trax 14 was a special album dedicated to him and his last show with the band, but this one was released probably because of the venue and the performance.  In fact, similar to Live Trax 6, this album was sort of released in stores as demand in the St. Louis area (it was performed at Busch Stadium) was high enough to warrant a local in-store release.

Enough history.  On to the music.

Two Step opens the show and is an immediate breath of fresh air.  It's not quite the same monster it would become in 2009 and 2010 (and on to present day), but it's great here.  Rhyme & Reason and Corn Bread are up next and are a major downer for me here.  Corn Bread especially as it was played on seemingly EVERY show in the tour.  It's not a good song.  Even still, it's good to have Tim with the band playing along.

The show kicks into gear with Crash and One Sweet World.  They're classics which feel different here, not stale as they had become for a little bit.  #27 is up next, relatively new song, and it's my go-to version of the song.  So Damn Lucky, sneaking into the set from Dave's solo album, is a shorter version as the long outro hadn't been developed and experimented with yet.  If you're not a fan of Dave's wailing at the end of this song, this is likely your favorite version.  (I like the wailing myself.)  Either way, this is not a bad version.

The monster of the first half of the set is Crush.  I don't think Crush has ever been better than in the month of June, 2008.  Tim and Leroi trading solos is a lot of fun.  I prefer the version released on Live Trax 2008 slightly more, but this is about as good as this song gets - I don't turn away either one.

Don't Drink The Water is next and is not quite settled yet in the new arrangement.  It feels off a little to me.  A Neil Young cover, Hey Hey, My My, follows and is definitely a song that wouldn't have been around for the band before the electric guitar came into the mix.  An old school trio of Pay For What You Get, Recently/Water Into Wine, and Tripping Billies follows the cover.  This was the first Water Into Wine in forever and is really need.  Recently is the truncated version as a result, but the Water Into Wine surprise is so nice thrown in here that it doesn't hurt it.

The set marches to its conclusion with Grey Street, You Might Die Trying (which REALLY grew into it's own on this tour), and a fantastic Ants Marching.

The real weak spot of the show for me is the encore.  Everyday is weak as an E1 (at least I'm consistent in my dislike for it there).  Louisiana Bayou sounds fuller here than it did 2005-2007, but it's not a great song to begin with and not much can save it.  Thank You was a show closer for the Dave & Friends tours and closed a lot of DMB shows this year (and still pops up in sets today).  It's obvious the band is having fun with it and it isn't awful, and if the encore before it was better I probably wouldn't dislike it as much (see Atlantic City).  But here, it's as if I got a piece of broccoli on my pillow instead of a chocolate or a mint.

The mix is VERY compressed.  It's clear, but it's one of the least dynamic releases of the series.  It's one of a few records I have of theirs where I can sometimes feel tired after listening to it, especially if I turn it up much.

Overall, the highs are very much above the lows in the show.  The band was just getting it's legs under itself in this new incarnation and the songs are fresh (albeit raw) early on.  Highlight of the show for me is without a doubt that Crush, but I find myself coming back to the Ants Marching, Recently/Water Into Wine, and #27 not infrequently.

I'm going to give this 4 stars.  The slow start and the slow ending take the show down a star.  Be forewarned though that if you're used to DMB 2013 and you go back to listen to this show, it may sound a bit...empty, maybe?  This show is best appreciated after listening to Live Trax 9.  You'll really be able to hear the big difference in the band.

Recap:
Live Trax 1: 4/5, purchase
Live Trax 2: 2/5, skip
Live Trax 3: 5/5, purchase
Live Trax 4: 3/5, skip
Live Trax 5: 5/5, purchase
Live Trax 6: 2/5, skip
Live Trax 7: 5/5, purchase
Live Trax 8: 3/5, purchase
Live Trax 9: 0/5, skip
Live Trax 10: 1/5, skip
Live Trax 11: 4/5, purchase
Live Trax 12: 5/5, purchase
Live Trax 13: 4/5, purchase
Overall: 3.3/5, 8 purchase, 5 skip
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