Dave Matthews Rediscovers Toronto -

If you'll indulge me, I'd like to give a brief history of my relationship with Dave Matthews and his concerts:

It goes something like this: Great venues, phenomenal set-lists, beer and most notably, awful, awful seats.

When I finally decided to rectify this situation and purchase good ones for the show last night at the ACC, it was, I'll admit, a watershed moment for yours truly. Punctuated by me triumphantly giving the finger to my laptop when the eBay auction christened me the winner.

The result: Front row, side stage. Close enough to see the following things:

Dave maniacally sipping from a thermos of god knows what between every song, and intermittently pumping his fist when he finished drinking. Probably, just water. Probably.

Some dude selecting and tuning Dave's guitars, then, transporting them to Dave like he was a surgeon holding a live liver during organ transplant surgery.

Eric Crasno appearing on stage for two songs with his electric guitar. Bringing the house down during a riff on "All Along The Watchtower", soaking in the adulation of 18,000 people and triumphantly walking off stage. At least, until he was standing 2 feet in front of me instructing the bouncer which groupies would make the best bread in an "Eric" sandwich.

(By the way - If you've never seen the face that girls make when a member of the band brings them backstage. You're missing out. It sort of like the face I made after the realization that I was getting Super Nintendo for Christmas in '92.)

As for the actual show, the best word that I can think of is "refreshing". Slow, easy jams on "#41, Seek Up, Dream Girl and Crush" worked well for me since I actually could put my feet up and relax. "Watchtower" mid-set was a terrific surprise. Having them open with "Don't Drink The Water" knocked away approximately 2% of the residual bitterness I have over missing the Central Park Concert two years ago. Finally, firing off the "Christmas Song" to open the encore... Well, it was lovely.

The songs from the new album played very nicely live. Most notably, the title track "Stand Up", and I mention that only because it gave me some time to get a refreshment and use the facilities. Not one of their best efforts.

In the end, the concert showed me why I've been a loyal fan for just under a decade. The ever-expanding line up of songs, and, more specifically, how they evolve on the stage lends freshness to songs you've heard - literally - hundreds of times. It's a disturbingly loyal fan base for a reason. The Dave Matthews Band thoroughly enjoys playing with one another. It's evident from the nosebleeds, and - thankfully - it's evident from the front row. Check out the set-list

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