..

DAVE MATTHEWS BAND: LISTENER SUPPORTED

davematthews.jpg (6860 bytes)

Review by Gordon Justesen

Featuring: Dave Matthews, Carter Beauford, Boyd Tinsley, Stefan Lessard, Leroi Moore
Producer: Tricia Regan
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Standard 1.33:1
Studio: BMG Music
Features: Song Selection, Multiple Angles, Web Links
Length: 135 Minutes
Release Date: February 8, 2000

Film ****

There’s something totally unique and electrifying about The Dave Matthews Band and the concerts put on. Before they hit mainstream success in the mid 90s, DMB was a huge underground favorite ever since they first got together in 1991, throwing a long list of acoustic shows, mostly at the college mass. I have been a longtime fan even before the band hit it big. I own every single one of their studio albums and live albums as well. I still remember purchasing their first initial release, Remember Two Things, back in 1993 as if it were yesterday. I remember listening to it and being taken over by the soothing and original sound of their music, particularly in my first listening of such landmark songs as Ants Marching, Tripping Billies, Satellite, and Recently. That was followed by the enjoyment of the follow-up albums Crash, Before These Crowded Streets, and the newly released album, Everyday. My longtime wish to see the band perform in concert was granted recently when I retrieved a couple of tickets to their recent gig in Greenville, SC, which is by far the most excellent concert I’ve seen and ever will see. That experience led me to immediately purchasing their only DVD release, Listener Supported, the concert video companion to their double album release of the same name, as well as an expanded version of their “In the Spotlight” special from PBS.

Recorded live in East Rutherford, NJ in September of 1999, Listener Supported is a prime example of the pure originality of the band. Matthews leads on vocals and lead guitar, and the other band members consist of Boyd Tinsley on violin, Leroi Moore on saxophone, Stefan Lessard on bass guitar, and Carter Beauford on drums. These talented musicians blend together a unique mixture of jazz, folk, and alternative rock. The songs performed in Listener Supported are mostly songs from the two albums Crash and Before These Crowded Streets.

Matthews opens the concert with the perfect upbeat tone of Rapunzel, which coincidentally is the first track on Before These Crowded Streets. The highlight of the show is perhaps Dave’s acoustic masterpiece Crash Into Me, which aside from becoming one of his commercially successful songs, is a song I easily consider to be one of the most beautiful and deep songs of our time. You can sense the audience’s pleasure in hearing the song too, as they are seen singing along. Very rarely do I discover passion in a single song, but Crash Into Me has that definite quality. Other terrific songs include the upbeat Too Much and Stay (Wasting Time) and the brilliantly haunting songs Long Black Veil and Don’t Drink the Water. The showpiece concludes with a rare performance of the Dylan classic All Along the Watchtower, which I am pleased to note was performed at the concert at I attended. Of course, Matthews gives the song a different sound and feel, which is crucial to the point of covering a famous tune, in my honest opinion.

It is very unlikely that we will come across another band with the style of The Dave Matthews Band, and Listener Supported is the absolute next best thing to seeing the band in live concert. If you are unable to get tickets to any of their shows, but you have a DVD player nearby, you owe it to yourself to get this disc, because it is as close as you will get to the band in top concert form.

Video ****

The video quality of Listener Supported adds a good bit to the impact of the show, by making you feel you are actually there. Presented in a reasonable standard format, the picture is as clear and as bright as a live show can possibly get. Even in this format, I didn’t detect any flaws, grain wise or flaws in the picture resolution. A wow of a transfer that serves the concert very well.

Audio ****

Need I say more? It is like being at the show in person. The 5.1 presentation excels with live musical brilliance. Speakers pick up audience noise, as well as numerous background instruments. And the sound of each of the songs is quite simply remarkable, with Matthews’ voice coming through in clear, crisp form. I haven’t seen many concerts on DVD, but the quality of Listener Supported is more than likely to influence me to see other ones.

Features **

There’s actually not a whole lot of extras to feast off here, but I really got a kick out of the multiple angle viewing options on certain songs, which involve totally different camera work from different points of view, which I’ve never really experienced before. Other than that, all that’s offered are song selections, a photo gallery, and a web link.

Summary:

With Listener Supported, Dave Matthews and his band are sure to give you an evening’s worth of breathtaking music, both genuinely upbeat and mellow. If you are a diehard fan of DMB, this very much deserves a place in your disc collection.