ATLANTIC CITY - A pink sunset seemed a fitting way for the Dave Matthews Band to end its three-day run at its first Caravan stop in Atlantic City.
The band, celebrating its 25th anniversary with four festivals across the country, once again mesmerized more than 20,000 people with their jam-band rock style performed in jazzy fashion.
Like the previous three nights, DMB was on its game, offering its loyal - and dusty - fans another memorable night of music at Bader Field.
While the rest of the day’s lineup did not match up to Saturday’s, DMB’s weekend finale itself was worth the price of admission and the finest set the band offered all weekend, a tough feat to top after Saturday’s stellar session.
The night started out like the first two: mellow, as trumpeter Rashawn Ross and hornman Jeff Coffin - this time on alto sax - offered an extended jazzy intro to the ballad “Seek Up,” during which violinist Boyd Tinsley ripped into a lively jam of his own at the end of the song. By the time the first song ended, 17 minutes went by and no one seemed to complain.
The opener was a perfect example of why DMB is so good. At various points throughout the show, Matthews stepped back and let individual members take the spotlight. He realizes this band would not be as big as it is if it was not for how good his mates are. Matthews is undoubtedly the leader, but it seems like he enjoys himself more when he’s strumming on the guitar watching the others on stage - like he has the greatest seat in the house.
The mellowness came to a halt with back-to-back DMB faves: “Warehouse,” which was a canceled encore from Saturday starring Tinsley plucking on his fiddle; and “What Would You Say?” a singalong that had the crowd thinking Sunday was the night when the DMB would unleash the hits and stay away from the rarities offered heavily during the first two nights.
They were right … sort of.
DMB did get to plenty of hits and fan favorites, but it took a while, as the band made time for more obscure stuff, such as the fun “Granny,” which was never released on a studio album but is a live staple, and “Kill the King,” which was an early-set snoozer that has not been played in about five years.
After burning through most of the songs from their latest album, “Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King” the first two days, there were a couple left, including the underwhelming “Lying in the Hands of God,” salvaged only by another horn duel between Coffin and Ross, and the equally unimpressive “Dive In.”
Along the way, fans were treated to the songs they really came to hear, such as “One Sweet World,” a horn-fueled ballad, and “Tripping Billies,” another canceled Saturday night encore during which Tinsley fiddled like a maniac. About three-quarters through his set, Matthews really let loose, ripping into “Raven,” “So Much to Say” and “Too Much” before returning for the encores, the slow, catchy “Some Devil,” “Ants Marching” and “Halloween,” which the band did not seem like it was going to play until the fans started chanting for it.
The finale, a funky cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” was a fitting gesture of appreciation for his fans, but it was not the only cover of the night. Earlier, guitarist Tim Reynolds - wearing a Marvin the Martian shirt - fueled an awesome rendition of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” later followed by a blistering cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” a song the band has been covering for 20 years but never sounded so good.
The only major disappointment of the night was that - unlike Friday and Saturday - none of the performers from earlier in the day joined DMB on stage. It would have been nice to have Grace Potter or Amos Lee get up there for a tune.
After Sunday’s 19-song, 2½-hour set, anyone who paid for the three-day pass witnessed the band play 57 songs for about 7 hours without repeating a single song, a testament to the band’s vast, impressive catalog.
This weekend was the first time the Dave Matthews Band played in Atlantic City. They made it quite a special debut. Let’s hope they do it again exactly the same way.
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SETLIST - Day 3
What Would You Say?
Kill the King
Lying in the Hands of God
Diggin’ a Ditch
One Sweet World
So Much to Say
Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith cover)
All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan cover)
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (Sly and the Family Stone cover)