In the middle of the first show of Dave Matthews Band’s 10-city fall tour, the band members left the stage, leaving Matthews in the spotlight, guitar in hand.
“I sure love playing music with these people,” he said.
And it showed Tuesday night at the Schottenstein Center.
The Dave Matthews Band played a two-and-a-half hour set, ranging from hits like “What Would You Say” and “Funny the Way It Is” to material from the band’s recently released ninth studio album “Come Tomorrow,” such as “Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin).”
But as the band went through its catalog that began in 1994, one consistency remained: the attention to detail that the seven-piece band brings to each song it plays.
This intricacy began from the very first song played, with Matthews beginning the show with “You Never Know,” a song that weaves in and out of different time signatures, showing tight drum patterns from Carter Beauford, a trend that would continue for the rest of the night.
After another showcase of musicianship in the form of “Satellite,” a song which Matthews and guitarist Tim Reynolds pick an iconic riff that is very delicate and difficult, the band changed its approach. The show paused, and with the strum of an electric guitar and the kick of a drum, the band began to play “Don’t Drink the Water,” watching the curtain fall from the back of the stage to show a designed screen and light show that remained for the rest of the performance.
The attention to detail remained as Dave Matthews Band played “Say Goodbye,” beginning the song with a long flute and drum solo, building up to a peak where Matthews pleaded with the crowd, “Tonight, let’s be lovers.”
With the decrescendo of “Say Goodbye” came the seamless transition into “Dancing Nancies,” sparking one of the positive responses of the night from the crowd with the band jamming to a long saxophone solo by Jeff Coffin.
But Matthews and his band came to kind of a lull in the middle of the set, turning to a cover of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” to bring the crowd back after the soft, yet stunning rendition of “Where Are You Going.” As the cover was played, it did not add anything to the overall performance, with the band not bringing its signature sound to the song like it does on a regular basis with Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”
But really, despite elongated jams and a restless crowd at points, Matthews and his band members did not seem to care all that much. As Reynolds or Beauford ad-libbed off of what each other was doing, as keyboardist and newest band member Buddy Strong went on a riff lasting for minutes, Matthews was with them every step of the way, encouraging them with quirky dances and visibly showing gratitude by high-fiving and fist-bumping the band members after the song had concluded.
However, as Dave Matthews Band began the song “Grey Street,” the crowd was in the palm of its hand. As the song went on, longer and longer, Coffin and trumpet player Rashawn Ross continued to build off each other at the end, leading to an ovation uncomparable to the rest of the set when the song was complete, a highlight of the show as a whole.
Shortly after what Matthews called “a little sorbet,” a quick acoustic break in which he performed “Here on Out” from the latest record, the band finished the regular set with “Jimi Thing” and the crowd sang every word, loving every minute of the jam afterwards, including an improv lick from Reynolds that was one of the best of the night.
But the Dave Matthews Band was not finished. The band was brought back onto the stage by a crowd of restless fans equipped with phone flashlights, illuminating the Schottenstein Center until music was heard again.
Matthews obliged, starting the encore set with “Break Free” and ending the set with “Rapunzel.” And with that, Dave Matthews Band started where it began: playing a song with intense time signature changes and playing a song that sounds like it needs intense focus with such ease.
Dave Matthews Band plays very intricate and detailed music. But on Tuesday night, they made it look incredibly easy.