The Central Park Concert

by: Dave Matthews Band

Here is yet another live album by the Dave Matthews Band. This one is from his Central Park Concert in 2003. This one is three CDs, loaded with hits and near-misses, from one of the most successful stage bands in the business. The Matthews Band is tight, full of enough funk and sass to keep it interesting, and yet is able to convey real emotion to tens of thousands of people, as evidenced by their many live recordings. What sets this one apart is its presentation of one concert in its entirety, and its willingness to leave rough edges in. While the sound is pristine, and the performance reflects the band's well-rehearsed acumen, there are those spontaneous moments on this set that get left off of most band's live recordings -- including Matthews' previous ones. In addition, this one rocks harder, and is more visceral, than his other offerings of this type. There are 20 tracks spread over this triple-disc, and without doubt, many of the same tracks that have been issued now nearly countless times are here as well: "Ants Marching," "Dancing Nancies," "All Along the Watchtower," (this one shouldn't be issued again until they can read it as dynamically as they did with steel guitar boss Robert Randolph). There is also a guest appearance by Gov't Mule's and the Allman Brothers' Warren Haynes on Disc Three, for a smoking cover of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer," and a band jam called "Jimi Thing." If you are a fan of Matthews' idiosyncratic rock, this will definitely be a welcome addition to your shelf -- though it's worth speculating that you have tons of bootlegs already. If you are part of the uninitiated, but curious, this is a pretty fine introduction, though admittedly, it is a very big dose all at once. ~ Thom Jurek

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