Last night, Dave Matthews, Trey Anastasio Band, Aaron Neville, and Hurray For Riff Raff teamed up for a special benefit concert supporting hurricane relief efforts in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico dubbed A Concert For Island Relief.
Following the first opener, Hurray For Riff Raff, Aaron Neville took the stage, who played a number of familiar covers, such as “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King, “This Magic Moment” by The Drifters, “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, and a rousing tribute to Bob Marley with “Three Little Birds” into “Stir It Up”. With the support of a guitarist and pianist, Neville’s vocals shone, and his patented falsetto was on full display all night long.
Trey Anastasio Band opened with the bouncey, world-music inspired “Mozambique”, which showcased on-again/off-again member Cyro Baptista‘s vast array of auxilliary percussion. Relatively new song “Everything’s Right” was up next, making an appearance just a few short days after Anastasio performed it with Phish on night one of their 2017 New Year’s Eve run at Madison Square Garden.
Following a run through uptempto rocker “Valentine” and a quick thank you from Anastasio for helping them to raise money for the devestated Virgin Islands, TAB dropped “Sand” on the excited audience. The crowd was noticeably split between Trey/Phish fans and Dave/DMB fans, but “Sand” really got the whole audience engaged and finally all standing and dancing in unison.
The band continued to harness this energy while delivering an epic take on “Dark and Down”. During the number, the band’s horn section—made up of Jennifer Hartswick on trumpet, Natalie Cressman on trombone, and James Casey on saxaphones—took a short break during to give the band’s core quartet of Anastasio, drummer Russ Lawton, keyboardist Ray Paczkowski, and bassist Tony Markellis a chance to shine as an improvisational unit.
TAB shifted gears with their fun cover of “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz, which operated as an opportunity for Hartswick to show off her powerful pipes. Turning the song’s rapped lyrics into a soulful vocal part, Hartswick once-again showed her prowess as a performer, taking the classic song and transforming it as her own. The band then brought the main portion of their show to an end with two Trey Anastasio Band classics: “Money, Love & Change” and the euphoric frequent set-closer “Push On ‘Til The Day”.
As the band took off their instruments, the audience assumed Anastasio’s set was over, but the group surprised the room when Anastasio took a spot on stage in between Casey, Hartswick, and Cressman, and the four of them delivered a gorgeous, harmonized cover of traditional Scottish song “The Parting Glass”. The beautiful ending was a touching exclamation mark on an impressively energetic set from TAB.
After a short break, Matthews waltzed on stage to a loud roar from the crowd. He seemed somewhat stunned, having agreed to follow his good friend Trey and his tight band with a solo acoustic set. Matthews made several mentions of Trey’s “bad band” and promised that he would work through his solo acoustic songs quickly before bringing out some special guests. While Matthews may have been bashful, he delivered a set of Dave Matthews Band classics and rare solo material that engaged the room and got almost everyone singing along.
It’s been quite some time since Matthews and Anastasio shared a bill, and while it may have taken some time for the crowd to get used it, by the time Matthews delivered his opening duo of “Don’t Drink the Water” and his solo classic “Stay or Leave”, the audience was singing loudly in unison and clearly enjoying themselves. Matthews peppered his set with more hits, such as “Funny the Way It Is” and “Grey Street” and fan favorites like “So Damn Lucky” and “Samurai Cop”, but the most special moments of his set came when he invited Dave Matthews Band member and son of a resident of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Rashawn Ross, to the stage.
Matthews mentioned that Ross’ mother had to be evacuated after the hurricanes that hit the islands, and that it only made sense to have Ross there to play for this special cause. Ross delivered an emotional trumpet solo on “Mercy” and stuck around for excellent versions of “Sattelite” and “Save Me” which also featured Ben The Sax Guy. Finally, Matthews finished his set with a quick switch to electric guitar for the dreamy “Some Devil”, followed by his classic “Dancing Nancies”.
[Video: Dave Thomas]
After taking a short encore break, Matthews returned, now with Anastasio in tow, and the audience went crazy. When the pair strapped in on acoustic guitars and—just like they did on the Dave Matthews & Friends tours of the early 2000s—delivered an acoustic take on “Waste” by Phish, which Matthews proclaimed was his favorite song. To say that this performance was surreal would be an understatement, as two of the most iconic musicians of our time finally reunited to perform together once again.
[Video: Live For Live Music / by Reena Napolitano]
After this emotional take on “Waste”, the rest of Trey Anastasio Band returned to the stage along with Aaron Neville. The band worked through an excellent and fun version of frequent Dave Matthews and Jerry Garcia Band cover, Daniel Lanois’ “The Maker”. The ensemble followed this up with a rendition of “Iko Iko”, during which Neville dropped in verses of the classic Bobby Freeman song “Do You Wanna Dance”, which brought a giantic smile to Anastasio’s face as he watched a master at work. Finally, the night was brought to a close with a raucous cover of “I Want To Take You Higher” by Sly & The Family Stone, a fitting ending for an exciting evening that was centered around raising money and awareness for such a necessary cause.
“I Want To Take You Higher”
Setlist: Aaron Neville | A Concert For Island Relief | Radio City Music Hall | New York, NY | 1/6/2017
Set: Stand By Me > Chain Gang > Stand By Me, Bird On A Wire, This Magic Moment, Drift Away, A Change Is Gonna Come, Three Little Birds > Stir It Up, Please Send Me Someone To Love, Louisana 1927
Setlist: Trey Anastasio Band | A Concert For Island Relief | Radio City Music Hall | New York, NY | 1/6/2017
Set: Mozambique, Everything’s Right, Valentine, Sand, Dark and Down, Clint Eastwood, Money, Love and Change, Push on Til the Day, The Parting Glass
Setlist: Dave Matthews | A Concert For Island Relief | Radio City Music Hall | New York, NY | 1/6/2017
Set: Don’t Drink the Water, Stay or Leave, Funny the Way It Is, So Damn Lucky, Samurai Cop, Grey Street, Mercy*, Satellite*& Save Me*&, Some Devil, Dancing Nancies
Encore: Waste@, The Maker#, Iko Iko#, I Want To Take You Higher#
*w/ Rashawn Ross
&w/ Ben The Sax Guy
@w/ Trey Anastasio
#w/ Trey Anastasio Band, Rashawn Ross & Aaron Neville
Dave Matthews fans can catch Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds on the beach in Riviera Maya, Mexico next weekend along with Brandi Carlile, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn and more! Get info on travel packages and more here.