Dave Matthews Band - Listener Supported (Live)

With the release of the double-disc Listener Supported in 1999, the Dave Matthews Band now had four live albums to their credit (including their self-released debut Remember Two Things and Matthews' solo set Live at Luther College). Bootleggers had discovered that certain bands had voracious audiences who would listen to anything by the group. Once Dave Matthews discovered he had one of those bands and that he had scores of unofficial discs on the market, he decided to release official live albums on a regular basis. A good business decision, but it has the effect of diluting his discography somewhat, especially when the end result is as ordinary as Listener Supported. Unlike audience tapes and bootlegged shows -- which, in an ideal world, capture a band loose and unaware -- the concert on Listener Supported was recorded for a PBS television show, In the Spotlight. This may have affected their performance somewhat, since there just isn't much energy to the recording. Part of the problem is that DMB don't really explore new musical territory through improvisations -- they just settle into a groove and ride it. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it does mean that there's not as much identity to an individual DMB show as there is in, say, a Phish show. When the band nails the groove live, they can be more engaging than they are on record. But if they just float on by, as they do on Listener Supported, the songs and jams are flatter and never really go anywhere. If you're already a fan -- a very devoted fan -- that's fine, but otherwise, listening to these two discs nonstop will be a little dull. DMB are capable of more than this; Listener Supported just captures them on an off night.

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