Though it had only been a little over a year since I had last seen Dave Matthews play it had been 15 years since I last attended a practice lead by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. How these two were going to connect kept me scratching my head until the time came for them to share a stage and explore some very real, and very important aspects of music and compassion.
I must admit from the get-go I am not your consummate DMB (that's Dave Matthews Band) fan like my much younger brother. I've been know to travel for The Stones and Clapton, DMB is a band that I've seen a few times. In all honesty I've seen Dave Matthews more often on the street than on the stage. I've always liked his music and loved some of his songs I've just never been a die-hard.
However, that being said, it was the concept that drew me in. Music and Compassion and the role that compassion plays in music. I loved the idea of getting a thinking rock star on a stage to engage in meaningful dialogue with His Holiness. I loved the idea and hope that this conversation would hopefully be the catalyst for many more discussions. Fact is, for music lovers music is compassion and compassion is music.
Dave was joined on stage by Ann Curry of the Today Show and Dateline fame. I did not know that anyone else was to be part of this 45 minute dialogue/interview and still can't quite figure out why they included Curry. My guess is that they were unsure how much Dave would be able to accomplish on his own in this new role and they needed someone with some street cred to move things along and ask the "hard hitting" questions. While Curry asked many sentient questions that let's face it the entire world would like to learn the answers to such as (and I'm paraphrasing here) "How your Holiness in light of the current situation with China are you able to remain so focused on compassion for all?" His Holiness just wasn't going there. Instead he chose to talk around the questions that were directly related to the situation with China and focused on the ideals and principles that he pursues including that of compassion.
When Dave spoke it was almost as entertaining as watching him play music. His usual slightly difficult to understand (British-South African-Southern-US) accent was even more difficult to make out at times. He was after-all charged with the responsibility and tremendous honor of interviewing one of the greatest champions of peace our generation has experienced. Like a kid in a candy store Dave just couldn't contain himself. Never before had I seen someone interrupt His Holiness. You couldn't help but both laugh and gasp a little watching him interrupt THE DALAI LAMA. The crowd loved it. They loved seeing Dave so excited and well, so human. Of course His Holiness was unphased and just asked Dave if he could finish his thought.
When asked by Dave what role music could play in the promotion of peace, His Holiness provided a lengthy response which included, "Music is very effective at promoting human values."
After the conversation concluded there was a 45 min or so break. And before Dave and his good friend, the exceedingly talented Tim Reynolds took the stage Death Cab for Cutie opened the concert portion of the night.
The 16,000 people in the house were waiting to see Dave and once he took the stage the room was ready to move. Though the set started off more sleepy than a usual DM show, perhaps in light of the day's theme of peace and compassion, the second half of the show rocked.
He gave us hits like 2001's "Everyday" and "Where Are You Going" while also providing us with a nice sampling of his musical span. "Cornbread" allowed him to showcase one of his best jam songs and if some of the crowd didn't know what to do with Cornbread - "Save Me" brought the entire audience back together.
During the concert Dave reflected on his chat with His Holiness saying "Everyone told me to be myself and myself was nervous". The crowd ate it up and loved him for it.
I was lucky enough to have incredible seats which allowed me to not only soak up everything happening on stage but off as well.
Last night was clearly a family affair for Dave. As Tim took the stage for a short spell binding solo set, Dave's 7 year old twin girls rushed quickly to the side of the stage and sat on the steps next to Tim as he proceeded to turn his one guitar into a world of music. While Dave's girls sat quietly beneath Tim, further off-stage Dave's wife swayed to the music wearing their 10-month old baby boy.
This was one show that his kids and many others will treasure for years to come.