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Dave Matthews Band Grab Gregg Allman, New Tunes for Tour Launch

April 15, 2009 1:49 PM ET

Three separate times during his band's sold-out show in New York last night, Dave Matthews posed a simple question to the audience: "Who starts a tour at Madison Square Garden?" It was as if it was the first time the Dave Matthews Band had ever played the legendary venue. And from the sound of the first few songs of the show, DMB seemed as if they were genuinely nervous playing in front of 20,000 fans, despite rocking the room numerous times in their career. The group kicked things off with some relatively mellow versions of "Don't Drink the Water," the dirgey "Raven" and their new single "Funny The Way It Is" (off the upcoming Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King), a funked-up, time-shifting number that sounds like it's in need of some more road-testing.

But mid-way through the gig, Dave Matthews and his band — violinist Boyd Tinsley, guitarist Tim Reynolds, drummer Carter Beauford, bassist Stefan Lessard and brass players Jeff Coffin and Rashawn Ross, who have joined the lineup since LeRoi Moore died last year — cranked up the heat. After a breezy run through the lovely "Pig," Matthews brought on special guest Gregg Allman, who, Matthews said, "happened to be in town tonight." With Allman on acoustic, the crew ran through a stellar version of "Melissa," with Reynolds delivering some nimble slide-guitar work. Perhaps inspired by Allman's guest appearance, DMB finally caught fire.

Matthews strapped on an electric guitar for another new track, "Why I Am," a pummeling, near-power-pop number that's destined to become a showstopper. But old fan favorites proved to be the predictable highlights of the night: "Recently" featured blazing interplay between Reynolds, Tinsley, Beauford and Coffin while the one-two punch of the set closer veered from the mellow jam "#41" into a fiery rendition of "Two Step."

Even though he wasn't present, Moore still loomed large in the room. After "Why I Am" — which featured Matthews singing "Here I am, still dancing with the Groogrux King," referring to Moore's nickname — fans erupted into a chant of "LeRoi! LeRoi!." Matthews seemed particularly touched by the sentiment: he turned his back away from the audience and, for a moment, the frontman allowed Moore's spirit take center stage.

Set List:
"Don't Drink the Water"
"Cornbread"
"Funny The Way It Is"
"Raven"
"You Might Die Trying"
"Spaceman"
"Dancing Nancies"
"Pig"
"Melissa"
"Recently"
"So Damn Lucky"
"#27"
"Why I Am"
"Ants Marching"
"#41"
"Two Step"

Encore: "Sister" "Tripping Billies" Related Stories:Dave Matthews Band Salute LeRoi Moore on New AlbumDave Matthews Band's "Funny the Way It Is" Available as Free DownloadDave Matthews Band Plot Out Spring 2009 Tour, New Album

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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