Dave Matthews Band Welcomes Branford Marsalis At 2021 Tour Opener In Raleigh
The group's first show in 510 days featured a setlist loaded with surprises and included a guest appearance from saxophonist Branford Marsalis.
Dave Matthews Band returned to the stage on Friday for their first concert in 510 days, as the septet kicked off their extensive 2021 tour at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, North Carolina. The group presented a career-spanning show that included new material and teamed with legendary saxophonist Branford Marsalis for two songs towards the middle of the emotional evening.
The capacity crowd rejoiced when DMB emerged shortly before 8 p.m. local time for a concert originally scheduled for July 24, 2020 that was postponed nearly a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “How very nice it is to be here with y’all,” frontman Dave Matthews exclaimed ahead of the “#41” opener. “I hope everybody here has a very memorable and beautiful night.” A singalong “Granny” followed before one of the evening’s biggest surprises came within “Grey Street.” Matthews sang the song’s “lost” third verse with the full band for the first time since December 16, 2002. Dave did bring back the third “Grey Street” verse/chorus during a solo performance for the Leading Through Change livestream on April 14, 2020.
Dave addressed the crowd after “Grey Street” and noted he did “a little bit of writing” while in the “pause due to unforeseen circumstances.” He spoke about performing with drummer Carter Beauford at first and then they slowly and safely got together with other members of the band to make music. “This is the first song that we all played together and I hope you can open up your hearts and that you like it a little bit,” Matthews said before “Walk Around The Moon,” the evening’s lone premiere. “If I fuck it up, y’all won’t know!”
Members of the seven-piece spoke with SiriusXM’s Ari Fink earlier in the evening as part of DMB Radio’s broadcast of the concert. Matthews revealed the band is working on a new album. “I think we’re getting really close to being finished with it,” Dave told Fink. “Maybe it will come out in a few months but I’m sure we’re gonna play the songs live. Maybe we’ll play a couple of them tonight.”
Beloved staples “Dancing Nancies” and “Warehouse” came next along with “Do You Remember,” the lone song played in Raleigh from the most recent DMB studio album, 2018’s Come Tomorrow. It was then back to classic material for “Minarets” before the septet delivered three bust outs in a row. The first of the three was rarity “Sweet” off 2012’s Away From The World, which was last performed by the full band way back on September 13, 2013. DMB then unearthed “Hello Again” from 2005’s Stand Up and “So Damn Lucky” off Dave’s lone solo album, 2003’s Some Devil. Both “Hello Again” and “So Damn Lucky” last saw action from the full band in 2018. “I hope we manage to pull some deep cuts out that people won’t expect,” the Johannesburg-birthed artist said to SiriusXM’s Ari Fink in previewing the tour.
The band worked a bit of “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” into “So Damn Lucky” and at the end of the song, the audience took over and sang the chorus of the Sly & The Family Stone gem. Keyboardist Buddy Strong was then showcased on “Everyday.” Next, Marsalis came out for “Lover Lay Down” and “What Would You Say” after an introduction from Matthews. “I was walking along this morning and I saw a friend of mine out of the corner of my eye,” Dave explained. “‘Please won’t you come to the show this evening?’ [Matthews asked] So Branford Marsalis is here.” Marsalis took fierce solos in each tune.
Last night’s main 18-song set came to a close with a run of “Louisiana Bayou,” “The Ocean And The Butterfly,” “You Might Die Trying” and “Stay (Wasting Time).” While “The Ocean And The Butterfly” was a full-band debut, Dave previously played the song solo seven times since its premiere at the Save Our Stages Fest on October 18, 2020.
Matthews returned to start the encore by his lonesome. “So, before the last year got really ugly, my family and I were living in Seattle so we kinda got a headstart on a lot of people. Everyone was like ‘uhhhhhh what’s happening?’ I remember seeing those people in Italy when they were all locked up in their houses before it got to that over here, all those beautiful Italian people singing their beautiful songs out of the windows of their houses,” Dave said. “We’re capable of doing really beautiful things sometimes. Not always but sometimes,” he added before an emotional performance of the original “Singing From The Windows.” The song was another first played by Dave at solo livestream concerts in 2020.
The rest of the band joined Dave after “Singing From The Windows” to end the show with the “Pantala Naga Pampa”/”Rapunzel” suite and “Why I Am.” Dave Matthews Band continues the tour tonight in Charlotte. DMB Radio's Friday Night Concert Series resumes on SiriusXM live from iTHINK Financial Amphitheater in West Palm Beach, Florida on July 30.
Watch more fan-shot video from Dave Matthews Band’s 2021 tour opener below:
Setlist (via DMB Almanac)
Set: #41, Granny, Grey Street, Walk Around The Moon*, Dancing Nancies, Warehouse, Do You Remember, Minarets, Sweet, Hello Again, So Damn Lucky, Everyday, Lover Lay Down**, What Would You Say**, Louisiana Bayou, The Ocean And The Butterfly^, You Might Die Trying, Stay (Wasting Time)
Encore: Singing From The Windows@, Pantala Naga Pampa > Rapunzel, Kill The Preacher [tease], Why I Am
- * – First Time Played
- ** – w/ Branford Marsalis on saxophone
- ^ – First Time Played Full Band
- @ – Dave Solo