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Live Trax, Vol. 6: Fenway Park

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Album Review

The sixth volume in the Dave Matthews Band's Live Trax series is a whopping four-disc box. It's sold fairly cheap — $29.98 — and there are no frills. It contains two complete concerts recorded in July of 2006 at Fenway Park in Boston. Like the other recordings in this series, the sound is gorgeous. The track selection between the two evenings contains no song duplications. Trumpeter Rashawn Ross guests on the majority of the tunes, and keyboard wiz Butch Taylor is here throughout. Of the two performances, the July 7th gig is more passionate and has a more upbeat feel, especially on the raw, from-the-heart version of "Crash into Me," which contains a riff from Lowell George's "Dixie Chicken," and what immediately follows, in "Jimi Thing," where Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth" makes an appearance. (The latter worked better when Robert Randolph guested on it to dress it up.) It's a more song-oriented gig in general, though there are four long jams in the first concert. The July 8th gig is much looser, though it's not without its own novelty in the DMB's cover of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." It reveals the band's jamming side as the central aspect of the concert. There are also three new cuts, but in a sense, these aren't even important. What this package does better than any of the other volumes is reveal the essence of the Dave Matthews Band, what crowd-pleasers they are, how they appeal to a mass audience, and how they crackle with energy, but the music can be diffuse — trancelike with elongated, hypnotic simple chord patterns tossed about and only the rhythm section drifting it off into something else. It also reveals the sheer ambition of Matthews as a singer. He's not singing from his nose as much anymore; the longer cuts allow him to dig into his belly more and let it rip. Sure, the tape traders and the Internet members already have these gigs, but their presentation here is stellar and pristine — though most listeners could have lived without yet another version of "Ants Marching." Some of the forced funkiness of the earlier live offerings has been done away with and Matthews concentrates more on what he is: a singer and a songwriter with a band that can spin his compositions out into the world as something more elaborate and entrancing.

Customer Reviews

Another solid live album for DMB

The Dave Matthews Band was selected as the annual summer concert artist at Boston's historic Fenway Park, and the band's well-known performance chops mesh well with the special atmosphere at the show. With an excellent run-through of hits and fan favorites, old and new, both set lists contain outstanding song choices and offer a good restrospective of DMB's career to this point. From the ever-popular traditional live staple of the "Dancing Nancies"/"Warehouse" combination on Night 2, to the raw energy and new life breathed into 2006's "Smooth Rider" on Night 1, Dave and the crew do an excellent job with nearly all the repetoire. Highlights abound, but perhaps none moreso than the new material from the 2006 tour. Released for the first time here, the trio of "The Idea of You", "Can't Stop", and "Break Free" are absolutely essential to any Dave Matthews fan's collection. "Break Free" shines in particular, with Carter's triplets exiting each chorus and an instrumental outro that will amaze even the most experienced DMB listener. Special guest Rashawn Ross lends his superior trumpet skills to this song, as he does most of both nights' sets, and it is simply a treat to hear. The sound quality is excellent and focuses on the musicians; very little crowd noise can be heard, even during the special rendition of Fenway singalong staple "Sweet Caroline". I purchased this album digitally over a year ago for over $22 online, so the $10.99 price at iTunes is an absolute steal. While not essential, this album is an extremely enjoyable listen and should please purists and new fans alike. Highly recommended.

Get the whole album!

The best tracks on this album, which consists of two full nights of performances, are the ones that you only get with the whole album purchase: Bartender (best version of this song DMB has recorded), The last Stop, and Jimi Thing (hear Rashawn Ross go off on the trumpet and Butch Taylor jazz-up on keyboards). Plus, DMB's shows are really best appreciated in their entirety. I rate this as the second best live album by DMB, after Central Park and with Las Vegas (not released on iTunes) a close third. I've not yet heard the Piedmont Park album.

Simply Amazing

I bought this for A LOT more $ earlier this year on the website, so this is a STEAL!!!! for 10.99. 3 discs of music, and probably the best Don't Drink The Water ever!! Also, probably the best quality live release I had heard from DMB. (Until PiedmontPark was released.. . )


Formed: 1991 in Charlottesville, VA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed in the early '90s by South African vocalist/guitarist Dave Matthews, the Dave Matthews Band presented a more pop-oriented version of the Grateful Dead crossed with elements of jazz, funk, and the worldbeat explorations of Paul Simon and Sting. Matthews populated the group with several Virginia-based musicians -- bassist Stefan Lessard, saxophonist Leroi Moore, violinist Boyd Tinsley, drummer Carter Beauford, and short-lived keyboardist Peter Griesar -- and the band built up a strong word-of-mouth...
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