Dave Matthews Band

Live at the Mile High Music Festival

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Live at the Mile High Music Festival will come to be a notable recording in the Dave Matthews Band's live oeuvre for one very significant reason: it's the first show to officially appear on CD without founding member LeRoi Moore on saxophone. He had been injured in an accident earlier in the year, and was recuperating during this tour. He unexpectedly and tragically passed away three weeks after this performance. DMB numbered four persons as of this show, with guests Jeff Coffin on saxophone, guitarist Tim Reynolds, and trumpeter Rashawn Ross filling out the ranks. Unlike the two-disc Volume 13 in the DMB Live Trax (Live at Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO.) series that was released on the same day, this set is a three-disc whopper . As is the M.O. for this band -- the material is made up of mainly crowd-pleasers from the catalog, with a couple of choice covers thrown in. Perhaps it was the addition of a new sax player in the lineup that put this group further on its toes and pushed them, perhaps it was the crowd, perhaps it was the weather: whatever the reason, this set fares far better than Live Trax, Vol., 13 recorded the month before. While the former set sounds tired, boring, and like the band is going through the motions, this gig finds the band with more spring in its step and its members seem far more engaged with one another and the audience. That's not to say that some of this isn't the same old, same old we've all heard far too many times -- if ever a song needed to be retired from the DMB's repertoire it's "Ants Marching," and "Tripping Billies" is a close second, and "Jimi Thing" is just wrong -- but there are some fresher twists and turns. The cover for this gig is Peter Gabriel's hit "Sledgehammer," that isn't as rhythmically compelling as the original, but at least it's a jump in the right direction. "Gravedigger" makes a renewed appearance here, as does "#41." But the newer material works well in this context, songs like "Corn Bread," "Louisiana Bayou," and the relatively recent "Old Dirt Hill." Conversely, the cover of Sly Stone's "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)," isn't perhaps as exhausted as it sounds on Volume 13 , but it too should be released from the set in favor of a more fitting show closer. Once again, the dictum holds true: if you are a Matthews fan, you'll be good with this and want to own it -- the band's website gives the impression that every DMB fan wants to own not only every recording but every beanie, button, jacket, and T-shirt as well. If you're wondering what the big deal is, or have wondered why the band's sound never connected with you, this won't likely move you to the camp of the converted.

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