As XRT reflects on forty years of championing the finest rock around, last night’s concert at the United Center affirms reasons why the Dave Matthews Band has been a station favorite for more than twenty years.
Dave Matthews doesn’t act like the major rock star he is. No flashy clothes or moves. He’s in a plaid shirt and occasionally breaks out in a hoedown, foot-stomping dance frenzy. He is at home and smiling when he is out front with his guitar, backed by inventive musicians who let the songs swim in an ocean of room. And of course, there’s that formidable stack of great songs.
The band offered a generous sampling from 2012’s Away From the World, including the soulful “Mercy,” infused with a Curtis Mayfield vibe.
One of several danceable blasts from the past was “What Would You Say,” with glow-in-the dark sticks flying across the main floor, like shooting stars in the Wisconsin skies over Alpine Valley. The band played “You and Me,” in which Matthews’ singing is drenched in romance, without a drop of sap. Matthews’ lovely “Christmas Song” was like a holiday gift to the crowd. And the show closer was Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” starting as an ominous wind of an oncoming storm and ending in a rousing, roiling howl.
Those who arrived early witnessed legendary reggae master Jimmy Cliff, bolstered by a new album, Rebirth, and timeless songs like “The Harder They Come” and “Many Rivers To Cross.”