You get what you pay for

by Brian Stensaas

Two songs into last Wednesday night’s set at the Target Center, Dave Matthews approached the center stage microphone and in his signature, quirky-smilish way said to the sold-out crowd, “I hope this evening finds everybody feeling good.”

Throughout the next two hours, his wish was granted.

Making its third trip to the Twin Cities in as many years, the Dave Matthews Band rocked downtown Minneapolis with a set as diverse as the multicultural quintet. Mixing in songs such as “Dreaming Tree” and “Pig” and radio favorites such as “So Much to Say” and “Stay (Wasting Time)” was a clever move by the band, now in its 13th year together.

It was a slow start, as four of the first five songs went off without a trademark prolonged jam session.

A solid middle, including “Rhyme and Reason” and a vigorous “The Last Stop,” the group began to cook with a powerful rendition of “Warehouse,” including the popular stop-time intro. Violinist Boyd Tinsley was especially on for this number while bassist Stefan Lessard’s head-bobbing and the smooth saxophone of LeRoi Moore kept the beat under a sea of turquoise, lilac, gold, red and orange lights.

“Dancing Nancies” followed, which turned the venue into a 17,500 person singalong dance party for the superlative version of one of the group’s oldest songs.

After starting the encore with a soothing “Grace is Gone,” drummer Carter Beauford’s snare drum intro of “Ants Marching” capped off another upbeat performance, despite being indoors on a summer concert tour.

As if he needed to bring the crowd to another roaring applause, Matthews added a local touch early in the show by saying that the song “Pay for What You Get” was “about the Mall of America.” Ironic, given that the band was 15 shows into its 54-date tour without a new album to hit the mall’s shelves. Its last album, “Busted Stuff,” was released a year ago and of the show’s 17-song set, just three numbers came off that disc.

Tinsley did release a solo album last month entitled “True Reflections” in which Matthews supports backup vocals for the song of the same name.

Meanwhile, Matthews is in the process of releasing a solo album as well. “Some Devil” will be Matthews’ solo studio debut with Phish’s Trey Anastasio and others contributing. A September release is expected.

Brian Stensaas welcomes comments at [email protected]