Live in Chicago 12.19.98
our score: 4.0 out of 5.0
about six months, so it's about time for another Dave Matthews
Band album. When fans of the Charlottesville, Va.-quintet weren't
grabbing copies of February's Everyday
off music store shelves, they were snatching downloads of the
unlicensed Lillywhite Sessions
off Napster. If that wasn't enough - and for fans of DMB it never
is - the band has taken a step back from the Everyday v.
Lillywhites debate that rages on to this day among fans
to release a live performance from a time before either album
was a glint in Matthews' eye. And despite the presence of several
songs that have appeared on previous live releases, Live in
Chicago 12.19.98 proves yet again that there's a reason Matthews
and company are the most popular touring band in the country.
the Lillywhites' appearance on the Web, members of the
band promised to sate their fans' appetite for an official release
of the songs with a future live album that would include concert
staples from the shelved sessions like "Grey Street,"
"Bartender" and "Grace is Gone" in one form
or another. Yet in what may be an attempt to stand behind Everyday
and wait a little bit longer before bending to the wishes of the
fans, the band chose to release Live in Chicago, which
doesn't include any songs from either 2001 release. Instead, it
offers yet another version of several songs that have appeared
on at least two of the four previous DMB live albums, "#41,"
"Jimi Thing" and "Crash Into Me" among them.
(And for the love of God, does the band ever close with anything
other than "All Along the Watchtower"?) Based on the
collective DMB live catalog, the casual listener might wonder
what is so special about seeing the band in concert if they repeat
so many songs from one night to the next.
in Chicago isn't for the casual Dave Matthews Band listener.
The little nuances that make this collection of songs special
would be lost on those who don't own an exhaustive collection
of DMB bootlegs, and understandably so. It's those little changes,
though - a violin solo where there should have been a saxophone
solo, a slightly altered verse - that make hardcore "Daveheads"
giddy. And Live in Chicago has them in spades, making it
the most impressive live DMB release so far.
self-indulgent (five songs eclipse the ten-minute mark, six if
you consider "Rapunzel" and its the intro to be one
extended jam), the performance is tighter than previous live albums.
Very seldom does a band member's solo stray too far from the original
direction of the accompanying song, and when they do on "The
Last Stop" and "Jimi Thing," someone else is there
to reign them in.
from saxophonist Maceo Parker and bassist Vic Wooten make the
performance all the more special. Though on stage for less than
two minutes, Parker punches up the jazz quotient on "What
Would You Say" with clipped bursts from his tenor sax, taking
the place of DMB saxophonist LeRoi Moore. Wooten, of Bela Fleck
and the Flecktones fame, fortifies the already-tight rhythm section
of drummer Carter Beauford and bassist Stefan Lessard on "#41"
and "The Maker," adding solos that would even put most
of today's lead guitarists to shame. Tim Reynolds, the electric
guitar guru who has appeared on all but one DMB studio release
employs his space-cadet stylings throughout the concert to great
effect in most cases. Aside from a misplaced, '80s-style arena
rock solo on "Lie in Our Graves," his work goes a long
way toward adding depth to the remaining songs.
To the general
public, Live in Chicago will no doubt be "just another
live Dave Matthews Band album," but to those for whom this
little gem has been released, it's a concert performance worthy
liked Live in Chicago 12.19.98...
1. The Last Stop
2. Don't Drink the Water
4. Lie in Our Graves
5. What Would You Say
7. Stay (Wasting Time)
1. The Maker
2. Crash Into Me
3. Jimi Thing
4. So Much To Say
5. Too Much
6. Christmas Song
7. All Along the Watchtower