Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land
January 25, 2017
For close to three and a half hours Wednesday evening, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds played for the rambunctious sold-out crowd at Sugar Land’s newly minted crown jewel, the Smart Financial Centre. The singer-songwriter and his right-hand man came out on the large stage, saddled up their guitars and launched into a set nearly 30 songs deep, beginning with “Don't Drink the Water."
It was evident early on that Matthews may have been the name to sell the tickets but Reynolds would steal the show. And his friend made certain he got his proper due. The two were dialed into each other and perfectly in sync though the entire performance, often acknowledging each other with looks that signaled appreciation and great admiration.
The fans cheered and sang along with all of the radio hits; “Gravedigger” and “Two Step” especially got huge pops. Matthews bantered to the audience in between songs. His funny quips about our current political state, their own chattiness and his nervousness slowed the musical spots but enhanced the entire experience. “Timmy talks all the time,” Matthews said. Reynolds actually said nothing the entire show, but interacted with his partner by nodding and using hand gestures agreeing with him on every conversation piece throughout the evening.
“There are mostly good people all over the world," he said. "That’s my guiding light. Some assholes too, but mostly good.”
Two incredible guitar solos were performed as Matthews slinked away from the spotlight and Reynolds took over. Manipulating the strings and caressing the guitar while using his metal slide fixed on his pinky, he did things with his guitar that would make Tom Morello and Thurston Moore question reality. Slowing and speeding up his rhythm, Reynolds proved to be a master at time changes.
“I like the dentist. I like the hands. The mirror. The drilling. It's a cavity. It's a root canal. That movie The Dentist got me aroused.” Eyebrow pop. “Just kidding; I went too far.”
During “You & Me,” a fan made it onstage and gingerly approached Matthews mid-song. She gave him a slight hug as stagehands swiftly sauntered in to remove the kindergarten teacher. "I like strangers. The more different the better." Eyebrow pop.
Admiration for the United States was mentioned several times over the evening. Just before going into “Cry Freedom,” Matthews recited Emma Lazarus's The New Colossus. “I love this poem. And it's one of the reasons I moved to this country. It's on the Statue of Liberty. That beautiful lady. Gives me goosebumps. Come on. Come on. We be free up in this mutha...” Eyebrow pop.
When they wrapped up the encore and bid the crowd adieu, Reynolds with a head-nod and Matthews in his best Southern drawl: “Y'all take care now. Thank you all very, very, very much.” He then turned and pointed to his friend and again said, “Tim Reynolds.”
Personal Bias: By far the best performance I've seen all year. And it will be hard to beat come the annual reviews of 2017 best concerts.
Overheard In the Crowd: Everything except silence. The star even looked flustered and upset with it at times.
Likewise, no extraordinarily long lines for bathrooms, which were clean for the most part. Reports that the venue had run out of food before the performance began were a small hiccup, except for those that were beginning to be hungry.
The auditorium was beautiful, featuring nice cushy chairs and drink holders. In addition to the large screens flanking the stage, video monitors displaying the concert were located all over the venue, including in the bathrooms and at the concession stand. Quality sound was piped in through the entire venue.
The Moat: One of Sugar Land's wealthier corporations needs to sponsor the building of a pedestrian bridge over the deep ditch in the parking lot in exchange for naming rights. If not, the Fort Bend swift-water rescue team will need to be dispatched after the next heavy rainfall.
Don’t Drink the Water
Funny the Way It Is
When the World Ends
Black and Blue Bird
Virginia in the Rain
So Damn Lucky
Tangled Web We Weave
Death on the High Seas
Little Red Bird
Stay or Leave
Lie in Our Graves
You & Me
Summer Night in December