Bank of NH Pavilion hosted DMB to Gilford NH on July 12 2022
It’s been since 2019 since we have seen the Dave Matthews Band, and my wife is a huge fan and we like to go together once a year or so. So it was with great anticipation that we pulled into the parking lot of the Bank of NH Pavilion for our first visit ever to the venue. The traffic on the way in was not too bad, despite an absolute deluge of a rain storm in the hour before we arrived that drenched the area. We parked and made our way to the venue after a short time.
There’s always that moment of anticipation when you are waiting for your tickets, particularly when you on a list (thanks to Tim Reynolds’ record company, Thank You!) Will there a problem? Are the tickets there? Are the seats any good? It always takes two minutes, and it is always two of the longest minutes of your life. But the super nice lady came with the envelope, handed it to me, and said “There are instructions inside the envelope.” I opened it up, and in addition to the tickets, there was a little typed note with instructions, and two VIP LOUNGE passes. JACKPOT! We made our way inside through security, which wasn’t too much of a hassle, and found our way via the instructions to the lounge entrance. We got inside there after a brief wait, along with two dozen other pass holders, and enjoyed some snacks and some Bird Dog Black Cherry whiskey cocktails for m’lady. Because of Covid, the band has instituted a significant ‘bubble’ and nobody from the band would be coming out for a Meet n Greet. While disappointing, if that is what it takes to make a tour happen, then I am okay with it!
We made our way to our seats, in the first section of the pavilion in the 17th row. NOT TOO SHABBY! The venue itself is pretty interesting- it reminded me of a house we once owned that always felt like it was half of a duplex but wasn’t- like on the other side of this wall should be another house laid out in mirror image. There is a relatively narrow pavilion for the standard outdoor amphitheater, and it was pretty lengthy. By comparison the lawn section isn’t too big. So the seated sections were truly the majority of the total audience, opposite of most sheds these days. It is almost the Fenway Park of outdoor summer sheds, they put as big of a venue as they could comfortably in the space that they have. The end result is both intimate, and large- like the biggest small concert, or the smallest big concert you’ve ever seen.
The show started and out marched the seven current band members: Carter Beauford on drums, Tim Reynolds on lead guitar, Stefan Lessard on bass, Jeff Coffin on saxes, Rashawn Ross on trumpet and vocals, Buddy Strong on keyboards and vocals, and Dave Matthews on guitar and vocals. They fired into “One Sweet World” and we were off and running.
“Grey Street” and “41” followed and the locomotive began to pick up steam. I had figured it was going to be a two set show so about half way through what I thought might be the first set, the Led Zepellin cover “Fool in the Rain” electrified the crowd and really brought it home for me. It felt as if the show had hit stride. New song “Madman’s Eyes” followed along with “You and Me” and “So Right.”
At this point Dave paused and introduced Tia Fuller to the audience and out came a young woman with a saxophone and she feel into position between Rashawn Ross and Jeff Coffin to form a legit horn section. The band fired into Jimi Thing and after struggling with the monitor pack for a minute, Tia Fuller joined the band in full throated saxophonic splendor. She took an extended solo, seemingly because the band didn’t want to let her go from the spotlight. The cacophony reached a fever pitch and the band stood back and applauded Fuller’s performance as much as the crowd. She stayed for two more songs, “When the World Ends” and the Isley Brothers “It’s Your Thing” which is purportedly the first time played by DMB. And then with hugs and smiles all around Tia Fuller departed.
Several more songs took us deep into the DMB catalog and the peak came around again with a rousing rendition of “Don’t Drink the Water” that had the full energy that the song demands and brought the whole show up to the peak that the band had reached both during Fool in the Rain and Jimi Thing. At this point it was quite obvious that there would be no set break and we were in for the long haul.
Up next was “Granny” followed by the show stopper, “Ants Marching.” This song was my introduction to DMB along with many others some twenty five years ago or so and it was played with fury and joy. There’s nothing like a super recognizable hit song to take a show to its absolute pinnacle, and with that the band closed the show to a rousing ovation.
A slightly longer than usual wait had the audience getting anxious before the return of Dave. He serenaded us with Tex Ritter’s beautifully mellow “Rye Whiskey”. “If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck, I’d swim to the bottom and never come up…” Indeed.
The band returned after Dave’s solo stint for a rousing show closer in Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” The Led Zeppelin theme did not end with Fool in the Rain with a lengthy referential reflection on the solo section and ending of “Stairway to Heaven” integrated into the Watchtower. I recognized it from the opening notes of Reynold’s solo which nearly any guitar player will recognize immediately. Out of the solo the band continued to fire through the entire ending section of the most classic or classic rock songs before returning to the Watchtower. The suite was filled with energy and bravado and was a perfect capper to the show.
I could talk a lot more about the individual members- from the Joe Cool vibe of Tim Reynolds, or Timmy Lee Jones as I came to think of him- to the developing roles and stature of Buddy Strong or Rashawn Ross, or the rock solid rhythm section of Carter and Stefan, and the virtuosic skill of Jeff Coffin. All come together in a way that both excels in their individual ways while also supporting Dave Matthews’ songs and style. This is a band in full maturity full of musical dexterity and strength.
Lost time without DMB was made up for, songs were sung, and joy was created. This is exactly why we go to see live shows, and both the band and the venue are worthy of repeat visits, over and over again.
One Sweet World
That Girl Is You
Fool in the Rain
(Led Zeppelin cover)
You & Me
(with Tia Fuller)
When the World Ends
(with Tia Fuller)
It’s Your Thing
(The Isley Brothers cover) (with Tia Fuller)
Pantala Naga Pampa
Come On Come On
Don’t Drink the Water
(Tex Ritter cover)
All Along the Watchtower
(Bob Dylan cover)
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