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Live Review: Dave Matthews Band – 15th April 2014 – Qantas Credit Union Arena, Sydney, Australia

4 min read

The rain may have been coming down thick and fast but that certainly didn’t stop the Aussies and evidently large groups of Americans from flocking to the Qantas Credit Union Arena in Sydney last night for what was easily one of the finest performances that I have witnessed in my years of attending shows around the world.

Dave Matthews Band have gained a reputation of being one of the hardest working acts on the live circuit throughout the past 20 years and are seen within the industry as one of the great American rock bands of all time and a collective that tours relentlessly. Performing sometimes hundreds of shows a year, their art is not just in creating the music they are performing, but in the way they deliver their work to fans when they set to the stages of the world and I witnessed this for the first time last night.

The Virginia collective formed back in 1991 and over the years they have produced a catalogue of 9 studio albums and numerous live collections. While the line-up has altered over the years, with several departures and replacements during the middle of the bands career, the current line-up proves to be as tight as a band of this calibre can be.

As we arrived at the Qantas Credit Union Arena last night for the first of Dave Matthews Band’s Australian tour dates and the first Australian date in several years, the venue was already filling up nicely with several American flags waving in the standing section and countless tour t-shirts dotted throughout the crowd. As the lights dimmed at exactly 8.35pm, the venue erupted with applause as each member of the band took to the stage to pick up their instruments; Dave delivering a mime impersonation to the front rows of the audience in his characteristically cheeky manner.

During the two and a half hour long set, the 7-piece band played a collection of old and new songs. Opening with crowd-pleasers Squirm, the catchy Belly Belly Nice and If Only, the venue was immediately energized, hanging on to every guitar string strum and every note to fall from the front man’s lips.

Dave was on top form throughout the set with quirky phrases, trying his hand at the Australian accent, something that was met with the crowds cheering. He also drew a few laughs from the crowd with his satirical outro of Prince’s Sexy M.F to set centrepiece, Jimi Thing; Dave delivering the line “sexy motherfucker shakin’ that ass” to the live favourite.

Now, I am the sort of gig-goer that does get bored by the long intros and long guitar solos that most bands offer within their sets, particularly when it comes to rock bands, but I was hanging on every note that was delivered despite some songs, such as Jimi Thing, nearing the 15 minute mark. Each musician played a pivotal role in the execution of each song within the set, whether it was saxophonist Jeff Coffin delivering a perfect solo with the use of two (yes, two) saxophones in his mouth, Carter Beauford whipping up a storm behind his band on drums or the impressive and at times scene stealing efforts of violinist Boyd Tinsley, the band were on top form from start to finish, offering tracks from their almost 25-year time at the top.

During the closing of the show and its encore, the obvious career notables were placed with tracks like the gorgeous Crash Into Me and Ants Marching drawing the biggest cheers from the crowd. Another highlight of the set came with with playful Dancing Nancies with Matthews and Boyd playing off each others energetic musicianship in the middle of the stage in a sort of instrumental duel before each member of the band circled to deliver the tracks phenomenal, thunderous closing.

The band may very well be named after its front man but it was a joint effort last night for one of the America’s finest musical exports. Though the stage was dressed nicely in a metallic chain backdrop, 3 triangular light structures hovering above and the occasional use of light beams cast above the crowd, the focus was set firmly on the skills of the band as a live act and one that kept our attention for a solid, hit filled two and a half hours. They also are a band that don’t need to rely on flashy stage props or pyrotechnics to keep the audience in line and in tune with what is going on during their lengthy song deliveries.

Last night’s performance of Dave Matthews Band has without doubt made a fully-fledged fan out of me. It’s a shame that it has taken me this long to catch these guys live but I can confidently say that, going by last night’s performance at Sydney’s Qantas Credit Union Arena, this act are the real deal and one that should be added everyones bucket list.

Set list:
Belly Belly Nice
If Only
Don’t Drink the Water
Proudest Monkey
You Might Die Trying
So Right
Dancing Nancies
Drive In Drive Out
Jimi Thing
Crash Into Me
Ants Marching

You and Me
Pantala Naga Pampa