Dave Matthews Band

The Gorge

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Even though it consists of two CDs and a DVD, the latest live album by Dave Matthews is actually a teaser in a sense. Not that that's a bad thing. The Gorge, recorded over three nights in 2002, is easily Matthews' finest officially released live outing, even if you can get the entire run in a six-disc set for a very reasonable price through the band's website. This baby just whets the appetite. But does it ever. Matthews and company lay out 14 tracks, many of them less obvious choices than on previous outings. The music here comes from Before These Crowded Streets (a beautiful opening medley of "Pantala Naga Pampa" and "Rapunzel"; "Ants Marching" doesn't appear on the CDs at all, just the DVD footage!), "The Song Jane Likes" from Remember Two Things, and tracks from Busted Stuff, Crash, Everyday, and even Some Devil. The jams are tighter and rowdier; there's less hippie stuff and more honest to goodness musicianship and groove. And the version of "Gravedigger" here is as moving as it is on the studio outing. The singalong at the beginning of "Everyday," featured in a medley with "No. 36," is quite beautiful, not annoying like some similar moments on live records are. The more song-oriented first disc juxtaposes nicely with the more jam-oriented second, which features a smoking version of "Kit Kat Jam" and "Lie in Our Graves." The DVD showcases not only concert footage, but the "Grace Is Gone" music video and a documentary on the making of it, as well as an intimate look at the Gorge itself, a piece of environmental architecture that is an astonishing music venue and makes Red Rocks look paltry in comparison. Fans will have to have it, to be sure, but this might serve to turn others on to that particular brand of Matthews magic as well.

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