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Thursday, January 21, 1999 Dave & Tim Launch Acoustic Tour - January 21, 1999

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds Launch Acoustic Tour

J. Tayloe Emery

RICHMOND, Va. -- An admittedly nervous Dave Matthews and longtime collaborator Tim Reynolds launched their three-month acoustic tour Tuesday night in front of a crowd that was enthusiastic almost to the point of rudeness.

"I'm sh---ing bricks up here," Matthews, the eclectic South African guitarist, said before the duo began the show at the Landmark Theatre. If so, his nervousness hardly showed during the nonstop three-hour performance heavy in songs from the Dave Matthews Band's last two studio albums, that also featured a solo instrumental set from virtuoso guitarist Reynolds.

But Matthews, who lives about an hour from here and first played weekly gigs in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom district in the early '90s, did continually have to ask the 4,000 screaming fans in this opera house to "please keep it down."

"It was an incredible show, from some incredible musicians," said Melissa Roundtree, 24, of Washington D.C., who added, "We'd go anywhere to see Dave. Whenever, wherever and whatever." Unfortunately, said Brad Nessler, a 32-year-old accountant from Richmond, "The crowd is the worst I've ever seen. Half of them are drunk-ass, college kids who've never been in such an idyllic setting, I imagine. A complete lack of respect. It's a shame too ... because the music is quite beautiful."

Matthews and Reynolds took the stage just after 8 p.m. With Matthews on a stool and Reynolds standing to his right, the duo launched into a resounding version of Before These Crowded Streets (1998). Reynolds' accompaniment of bombastic, warbling strings fit perfectly against the silky rhythms of Matthews' strummed guitar.

Reynolds, who met Matthews in Charlottesville, Va., and now lives in New Mexico, has long been the Dave Matthews Band's "secret" sixth member. He's played guitar on all their albums and occasionally toured with them.

"The first time I met Tim," Matthews said between songs, "I was working at a bar in Charlottesville and I heard this incredible symphony coming from onstage. I looked up to see this short, little guy playing this big guitar and making all of these incredible noises."

Reynolds' playing unintentionally makes Matthews' look amateurish, but together the combination is one of the finest, most organically pure musical combos playing today.

Rattling off a string of recent hits, the duo put new twists on such songs as "Rapunzel," "The Stone" (to which they added a verse from Elvis Presley's "Fools Rush In") and "#41," before tearing into a version of "Two Step," in which Reynolds distorted his guitar, making it wail and whine like a calf headed to the slaughterhouse.

After a rousing "Jimi Thing," "Dancing Nancies" and the rarely played "Warehouse," Matthews left the stage to Reynolds, who launched an instrumental attack on the senses -- while, it seemed, sending half the crowd to the restrooms. Reynolds amazed those who stayed in their seats with a startling array of melodies and guitar sounds. He used some electronic effects, but the sounds he created without them -- by tweaking his guitar strings, banging the guitar's body or scraping the frets -- were just as interesting.

Matthews, returning onstage to screams, whistles and frat-boy hoots and hollers, again asked fans to restrain themselves, saying, "Shhhh ... Listen. Isn't silence great?" He then offered a little warning to his adoring public: "I had a birthday recently ... and a bunch of kids showed up on my lawn. So's I had to yell at them to get out before I grabbed my shotgun."

Matthews and Reynolds then perked up and finished the set with "Crash Into Me," "Lie in Our Graves" and "Tripping Billies." After a short break, they returned for a four-song encore that included a tearful rendition of "Satellite" and ended with a Jimi Hendrix-like version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower."