Dave Matthews / Dave Matthews Band

Weekend on the Rocks

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The Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado loves Dave Matthews. This is the second live recording from Red Rocks he's released in a decade. Weekend on the Rocks is a two-CD/single-DVD compilation from four concerts at the venue. It's a teaser for the complete concerts available as an eight-CD set that contains the same DVD. The tracks chosen here are not obvious choices, and that's a good thing -- thankfully there's not yet another version of "Ants Dancing." The band is pumped here, and includes Fender Rhodes and P-organ master Butch Taylor guesting for the gig. Just listening to the woolly, loose, and actually gritty version of "American Baby" included here sounds like a different band. The ragged version of the Zombies' classic "Time of the Season," should have been left off; they just can't manage the vocals -- the upper register they try to hit here is embarrassing. The jam-out in the middle of the cut is also unnecessary. But the 16-and-a-half-minute version of "Bartender" that closes disc one is a monster. The playing is passionate, gutsy, and as edgy as this band ever gets. The wall of strummed acoustic guitars on "You Never Know," offers an ethereal base for Matthews heartfelt singing. And it's followed by the funk and roll of "Stand Up (For It)," slithering and sexual. After this, sequencing gets weird. Granted, trying to boil four nights and eight CDs' worth of material down to two is a real challenge. But after the intensity of "Stand Up (For It)," is it really necessary to place a 15-plus-minute version of "#41"? Ugh. "Louisiana Bayou," and "Everyday," fare far better as extended versions that close the set. It has to be said, however, that there is still something missing here and its not only continuity. This band always sounds like they're trying to break out into something raw, and wild and crazy, but they're so mannered, they never, ever get there. Hardcore fans will want this since they need everything including bootlegs, but for the rest of us, Weekend on the Rocks is piece of curiosa.

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