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Dave Matthews Band are probably the biggest band on the planet that most of the UK population have never heard of! Having sold close to 35 million albums they are listed in the Top 100 highest selling music acts of all time. Their last five albums all debuted at No.1 in the US charts. So tonight’s gig to a mere 3000 enthusiastic punters could be considered an intimate affair compared with the stadiums and amphitheatres the band usually perform in.

Ambling on stage at the unusually early time of 8:15 the band are received like returning heroes from one of the loudest crowds I’ve witnessed. They quickly get their groove on with the funked up vibe of “Shake Me Like A Monkey” which is immediately followed by “Funny The Way It Is” and crowd favourite “Spaceman”. With influences from rock, blues, jazz and soul music, their sound is a melting pot of ideas and sounds, with most songs being allowed to flow organically rather than sticking to the album version.

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“I just want to warn you” smiles Matthews, “I may perspire a little this evening. I apologise if it’s hard to watch!” It is indeed a muggy summer’s eve in Wolverhampton but, as the opening chords of “Gravedigger” produce another huge roar from the crowd, nobody here seems to care about a little humidity.

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Matthews seems totally relaxed in front of his audience, perhaps helped by the fact that he has some of the most talented musicians around behind him. “I have a lot of songs with the word Grace in the song” he says, referring to the name of one of his twin daughters. “I have another daughter called Stella. She said “Daddy, when you gonna put me in a song?” which leads us into “Alligator Pie” with the lyric “See my Stella smile sittin’ on a roof eatin’ alligator pie”.

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Some songs are stretched to around 15 minutes long but rarely do things feel dragged out. At one point the band segway into Prince’s “Sexy MF”. At other times individual band members are given their time in the limelight. And they all shine. Drummer, Carter Beauford, is particularly impressive, all smiles and twirling sticks, most of which end up in the hands of eager fans.

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“Crash Into Me” gets the biggest cheer of the night and sounds every inch the classic. It’s followed by “So Much To Say” and some frantic violin showmanship from Boyd Tinsley. There are times where the band’s famous jamming does go on just that little bit too long and I found myself ready for the next song but it’s a small quibble.

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One thing nobody can say is that DMB don’t give value for money. By the time the encore of “Lying In The Hands Of God” and “Why I Am” draw to a close the band have been on stage just under 3 hours, finishing slightly after 11pm!

Dave Matthews Band are a group at the top of their game made up of some of the most accomplished musicians I have yet to witness. They’re a band who are made for the live arena and, even though they’re one of the biggest bands in the history of music, I’m sure they’d be just as happy playing a tiny bar as they are on stage at Madison Square Garden. Maybe happier!

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Setlist:
Shake Me Like a Monkey
Funny The Way It Is
Spaceman
Cornbread
Crush
Seven
So Damn Lucky
Gravedigger
Alligator Pie
Jimi Thing
Dive In
Crash Into Me
So Much to Say
The Stone (Outro)
Anyone Seen the Bridge
Too Much (fake)
Ants Marching
#41
Two Step

Encore:
Lying In the Hands of God
Why I Am

Review & Photos – Steve Gerrard

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