Written by Michael Pittman
ImageFrom our perch in the back, I had the chance to speak with some of the Live Nation people and found out what a great working they relationship they have with this band. For the last 3 years, Dave Matthews has opened his tour in Houston and by all accounts it’ll be the same next year. So be forewarned and if you want to have ANY chance at seeing this tour next year, you’ll get in line early. This show was a sellout almost before the tickets went on sale.

This show started off a sort of looser acoustic format in that the band collected on a shortened stage and played together as though they were sitting around at home.  As Matthews explained..”This how we started –  in the basements of (drummer) Carter’s and my moms’ houses. I thought we should bring some of that looser feeling on stage. It seems like the opposite of a safe plan so why not?”

So set one was completely acoustic with happy birthday wishes to violinist Boyd Tinsley. Don’t get me wrong, these guys as individual musicians and collectively are amazing players, but I got the vibe that they felt a little out of their element as an acoustic band. Having said that, it never hurts to push the comfort zone a little, which this band pulled off extremely well for about an hour and a half. Us photographers were given the 4th song, Satellite, to photograph and judging by the enthusiasm of the crowd it was coming together like a tour de force on this first set of a brand new tour.

The weather couldn’t have been any better and by the time the 2nd set got started it was just past twilight and the rare cool Houston breeze was washing over the sold out Pavilion.

ImageThe much anticipated 2nd set started off with a slightly different look since there was a see thru curtain positioned in front of the band for the 1st two songs Grey Blue Eyes and Big Eyed Fish. Upstage Lighting (the same folks did the Mumford tour last year) did this one and played the curtain up with an incredible display of lights and graphics. They lifted this curtain and the photographers moved into position for the 3rd and 4th songs.

DMB rocked the Pavilion for the next two hours in the best Red Rocks tradition with the band seemingly trying to get back to the sound that made them famous. I heard all kinds of mixed time signatures done impressively well..things like 6/8 over 4/4 and some odd signatures like 5/4 and 13/8. No doubt Tim Reynolds, the lead guitar, had a huge influence with his jazz roots. Matthews himself doesn’t mind experimenting either. Odd, but we didn’t hear Crash but the audience knew every word to every song.

So this was the first stop on a 70 something date tour will run through the summer and end on Sept. 6 in Irvine, CA and if you’re a Matthews fan, traveling isn’t out of the question. Unfortunately Red Rocks isn’t on the tour as I write this, but wouldn’t that be grand?

The setlist is on setlist.fm. Awesome show..good job LiveNation and thanks!