by Larry Kaiser
The 2019 Dave Matthews Band Summer Tour rolled through Jacksonville, Florida on May 1st with a near-capacity show at the Vystar Veterans Arena. The band hit the stage shortly after 8 PM and played a well-rounded set list of fan favorites and back catalog gems along with a guest appearance from Susan Tedeschi of the Tedeschi Trucks Band. The 2019 tour is the band’s second since founding violinist Boyd Tinsley left the band for personal reasons.
The show opened with ‘The Girl Is You,’ the second single from the band’s 2018 release Come Tomorrow. ‘So Much to Say’ was the first of several fan favorites throughout the set list that also included ‘Tripping Billies,’ “Don’t Drink the Water,’ ‘Satellite,’ ‘Rapunzel,’ ‘Ants Marching,’ and the Bob Dylan cover ‘All Along the Watchtower.’ While the band’s signature sound was on full display throughout the two-and-a-half hour show, the overall feel of many songs and the band’s jam band mentality have changed by the lack of Tinsley’s violin. For the 2018 tour and into the 2019 tour, the band has added Buddy Strong on the B3 keyboard which adds a new element to the sound with Tinsley’s violin solos replaced by Strong’s keyboard and more saxophone solos from longtime member Jeff Coffin.
At times throughout the show, it appeared the band was improvising the set list with long breaks between songs. The band’s attention to detail to each song very well could the reason for this, but the crowd was visibly restless between songs. Additionally, aside from the occasional thank you from Matthews, the usually very talkative front man had very little crowd interaction other than the introduction of the band.
Several highlights stood out during the show. The first, when the band left the stage, leaving Dave Matthews along under a single spotlight where he performed a beautiful rendition of Come Tomorrow’s ‘Here On Out.’ A second highlight was Matthew’s introduction of friend Susan Tedeschi who joined the band for a rousing cover of Neil Young & Crazy Horses’s ‘Cortez, the Killer.’ Tedeschi’s stellar vocal range and guitar playing were featured and met by the approval of the crowd. The previously mentioned ‘All Along the Watchtower’ closed the set with the crowd cheering and anticipating an encore.
The seven-piece band consisting of Carter Beauford (drums), Stefan Lessard (bass), Rashawn Ross (trumpet), Jeff Coffin (saxophone), Tim Reynolds (guitar), Buddy Strong (keyboard), and Dave Matthews (guitar) are tight. They play off of each other exceptionally well, performing complex and detailed music.
The band was not finished and were welcomed back to the stage by a cheering crowd wanting more music. Starting the encore with ‘Granny’ from the 1999 album Under The Table and Dreaming and playing the final song of the night, arguably the band’s biggest hit, ‘Ant’s Marching’ from 1993’s Remember Two Things closed the show with the crowd dancing and singing along.
The 2019 Dave Matthews Band Summer Tour continues on May 3rd in Memphis, TN and continues across the United States through September.