Dave Matthews Band Perform With Al Green

Sonicnet Music News

Jam rockers the Dave Matthews Band highlighted the second of two sold-out shows at Chicago's Soldier Field on Friday by performing with soul legend Al Green, but some members of the audience were less than pleased.

The group played a version of Green's classic "Take Me to the River" twice during its 90-minute set. They recorded the song for the upcoming IMAX video, "All Access" which will also feature Kid Rock, Moby, Santana and others at mid-show and during their encore to make sure they had adequate footage.

"You've been such a great crowd, we didn't think you'd mind if we brought Mr. Al Green back on stage," frontman Dave Matthews said. "You're all going to be in a movie."

The 50,000 fans who were packed tightly into the colossal stadium cheered, though it was easy to hear the group's fans, most of whom were not even born during Green's early '70s heyday, make snide comments such as, "Who is this Al Green

guy?" and "Not him again."

Green, dressed in a gold sequined jacket and dancing around the stage with James Brown-like pizzazz, seemed out of place at the concert, which was a sea of Abercrombie & Fitch and Budweiser logos.

"Dave was great, but why the hell was Al Green there?" said 24-year-old Dennis Swart of Minneapolis. "It didn't help we had to listen to the same song twice. What kind of team screws up so bad you have to redo a song to get it on tape?"

"I didn't pay to see Al Green, especially not to see him play the same song twice," said Jennifer Harris, 23, of Chicago.

The crowd was much more receptive to the Dave Matthews Band's signature solo-packed jams, which were prominent from the opening "Tripping Billies" to the closing "Ants Marching."

In between, the band, which kicked off its summer tour June 19 at the Polaris Amphitheater in Columbus, Ohio, played several of its hit singles and three songs from its upcoming album.

"Grey Street," a new, slower tune highlighted by Matthews' gentle voice, fit nicely between "Crash Into Me" and "Satellite," two of the band's most popular ballads.

Before closing their first set with "Too Much," from their 1996 album Crash, Matthews led his band, which includes drummer Carter Beauford, bassist Stefan Lessard, violinist Boyd Tinsley and saxophonist Leroi Moore, through two new songs, "JTR" and "Sweet Up, Sweet Down," as well as a cover of the country classic "Long Black Veil," which was featured on the DMB's 1999 concert LP, "Listener Supported."

The latter two, according to an update from the group's longtime producer Steve Lillywhite on the band's official Web site (www.dmband.com), have been recorded for the group's upcoming album.

Latin funk band Ozomatli and blues-rock guitarist Ben Harper opened the show, warming up the crowd with a wide mix of music. Harper jumped from his

slow, groovy tunes to a hip-hop version of his current hit, "Steal My Sunshine."

During Friday's show, the Dave Matthews Band was content with playing its instruments and seemed to pay little attention to the enormous crowd. The group may be one of only three bands to sell out consecutive shows at Soldier Field, along with the Rolling Stones in 1997 and the Grateful Dead in 1995, according to the Chicago Tribune, but the attention didn't faze them.

The eclectic group always has stood out among the Hootie & the Blowfishes and Sister Hazels because of its ability to transform a stadium into a college bar. On Friday, they accomplished this by diving deep into each song, soloing on their concert favorites and recreating their standard three-minute pop songs as delicate masterpieces.

Missing, however, were some of their greatest stadium anthems: "Warehouse," "#41" and the Bob Dylan cover "All Along the Watchtower," all of which the group played the night before.

Several fans who saw Thursday night's show said the group was not at its best.

"Out of the six Dave Matthews shows I have seen, it was the second-worst," said Stu Sorrel, 24, of Chicago. "I felt like they were more worried about playing Soldier Field than playing to the fans."

Jeff Donahoe, 23, of Chicago said he also had seen better Dave Matthews shows. "I thought [opening act] Ben Harper was way too mellow, which caused Dave to have to open up a lot larger than he probably would have liked to," he said. "I think he had to do it to pump up the subdued crowd."

The Dave Matthews Band will end their current 28-city summer tour Sept. 10 at the Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta and will resume work on their upcoming album at a studio they built near their hometown of Charlottesville, Va. The experimental jazz collective Medeski Martin & Wood will open several dates later this summer.

In addition to last week's two Soldier Field shows, the group is

on the verge of selling out two more shows Aug. 19 & 20 at the nearby Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wis.

"What [Dave Matthews Band] is doing is unbelievable," concert promoter Andy Cirzan of Jam Productions told the Chicago Tribune. "I can't think of another performer who has ever sold as many tickets in the market as this guy will this summer."