Dave Matthews has never had much problem effectively reaching a big concert audience with his personal and mostly mellow music, due in large part to his excellent and dependable longtime backing band. And even though the talented group takes a bit of a back seat on DMB’s latest album — in favor of more focus on Matthews’ increasingly compact songwriting — their significant presence, including occasional solo turns, was a strongly felt and an important part of the show Tuesday in a fog-shrouded Chavez Ravine.
The Virginia-based singer-guitarist and his four fellow players (as well as a number of guests) treated a near-capacity Dodger Stadium to more than two hours of pop-jam music that was evenly split between new songs from “Everyday,” the Dave Matthews Band’s fourth RCA studio album (released in February) and older faves from throughout its eight-year career.
Matthews appeared to blush, and he bowed his head to the large crowd as he slipped on his two-toned blond acoustic guitar and began the opening song, the funky “Don’t Drink the Water,” a disarming tale of race-based land-grabbing from 1998’s experimental “Before These Crowded Streets” collection.
Concert featured seven of the 12 songs on the Glen Ballard-produced “Everyday,” highlighted by a midshow segue to the life-affirming “If I Had It All” and “Angel,” a beautiful and melodic ode to unconditional love. Two of the new ones, “What You Are” and the dramatic “The Space Between Us,” featured Matthews on electric guitar, a first for this tour.
In another surprise, show included two strong tracks from DMB’s unreleased, Steve Lillywhite-produced album of 2000: the dreamy “Fish Monkey Man,” which featured violin player Boyd Tinsley plucking his instrument like a guitar, and the long-jamming “Bartender.”
From the back catalog came 1993’s captivating “Satellite,” still one of Matthews’ best songs, which earned him an onstage hug from opening act Macy Gray, plus “What Would You Say,” with the newly slim John Popper of Blues Traveler blowing some mean harp, and 1993’s “Tripping Billies,” an impressive showcase for drummer Carter Beauford’s skills.
Show ended around 10:45 with the band’s usual cover of “All Along the Watchtower.” Matthews couldn’t help but laugh out loud as he sang the words, “Life is but a joke.”