Matthews Band - Listener Supported
Supported by Saxophonist Moore
a band releases a live recording, it's usually for one of
two reasons: they are either documenting a performance so
special it deserves, no begs, to be experienced by all fans
of the band, or the band is simply capitalizing on its fame
and releasing a performance of mediocre quality in order to
tide its fans over until the next studio recording. Unfortunately
for fans of Dave Matthews Band, the latter is the case with
Listener Supported, the band's latest live recording,
and the second to be released in 1999.
at Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey in early fall,
the set, released in its entirety, includes several songs,
such as Warehouse and All Along the Watchtower, that have
appeared on both previous live recordings. The listener is
left to wonder just how exciting a DMB concert can be if songs
are repeated live as often as these releases suggest. Although
the list of songs ranges from the band's Under the Table
and Dreaming through the most recent Before These Crowded
Streets, the selections do little to showcase the wide-ranging
talent of the five-piece band.
Listener is not without some merit. There are no self-indulgent
jams that makes the listener question if the band has mysteriously
slipped into a new, untitled song as is sometimes the case
with several of today's "jam-bands." To their credit, Matthews
and Co. are able to create tight, snappy jams that rarely
become stagnant or venture into directionless noodling, even
those that surpass the ten-minute mark. Instead, they serve
as interesting codas to the studio versions of such songs
as "Jimi Thing" and "#41."
particular, "Two Step" is a masterful blend of changes
of pace, solos and improvisation. Weighing in at a hefty 14
minutes, the fan favorite evolves into a new creation instead
of drifting into incomprehensibility. With each new segment,
the band is able to take something from the previous one to
create a song that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.
As the spotlight is turned on guest pianist Butch Taylor,
yet another traveling minstrel in the tradition of banjoist
Bela Fleck and Blues Traveler front man John Popper to join
the band, the song shifts from drummer Carter Beauford's lonesome
march to an airy dance across Taylor's keyboard, culminating
in a crash of cymbals and blast of baritone saxophone.
other bright spot in this otherwise mediocre recording is
saxophonist Leroi Moore. The high-charged electricity of violinist
Boyd Tinsley for once takes a step back and allows the usually
timid Moore to shine. With solos that last as long as (and
require more talent than) some pop songs, Moore is given the
chance to showcase his range from melodic on #41, to funk-laden
on "Jimi Thing," to just plain fun on "Rapunzel."
average music listener is likely to shudder at the thought
of yet another live Dave Matthews Band recording. At this
rate the band will have as many live albums under their collective
belt as studio releases. However, the few high points in the
recording suggest the possibility of good things in the future.
For Matthews and his cohorts' sake, let's hope the public
doesn't become sick of them before they hear what's yet to