07.15.00 Philadelphia, PA

Veterans Stadium with Ozomatli, Dave Matthews Band

I Was There
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Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals Setlist 1969-12-31 - Veterans Stadium - Philadelphia, PA

Who Went

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What appears to be a more laid back and relaxing day will be exactly the opposite by the time DMB goes on stage. The parking lots begin to fill at 1:30p.m., plenty of time to have a day full of excitement prepping for the show tonight. She crosses the parking lot, heading towards the other side of the stadium in hopes of finding a different scene. Success! She finds a Y100 radio station tent, the Pepsi Challenge, and the Ben Harper and Innocent Criminal trailer. After talking with all of these wonderfully kind individuals, it's 6:40p.m. and time to go inside. She walks across the field on a scattered puddle tarp to find her seat in Section A4. Being that this seat is to the corner of stage right, she moves toward the center to get a better view. Everyone she passes by is extremely cordial and understands why she wants to be closer. Tom Tyler brings out Ben's round neck and places it in the stand on Ben's riser. She notices David enter from stage left as do the rest of the guys. What? No introduction by Dave tonight? She knows that these guys don't need an introduction, but it just seems out of routine. Ben sits down and gives thanks to DMB. People in the front of the center floor section yell out for "Oppression" and "Burn One Down." She smiles and silently laughs because she knows that the first song will be "Burn One Down" due to the fact that David has stepped down stage and Juan is equipped with his bass. People continue to fill the stadium as "Burn One Down" flows. Ben thanks the crowd and then introduces the band. Pointing to his left he says, "That's Juan Nelson." Then he points to up stage left to Dean and tells everyone, "Dean is half naked and that's the way we like him. It's in his contract. If he doesn't play half-naked, the band has to split up...oh no, he's all naked! Man, I can't play with a naked drummer! I'm outta here!" Then he points over to David at up stage right and says, "He's got everything but the kitchen sink, and that's on FedEx." She smiles at the relaxation and good vibe that is being created around her. "Glory and Consequence" starts, and people down front begin a clap along. The song is extraordinarily sweet and just as the words, "I would rather me be lonely, and you have someone to hold" are uttered, she gets a happy chill and thinks, damn, this is unbelievable! Ben begins talking to the crowd saying, "We're going to call this the 'feel good set' for a 'feel good band'. I'd also like to dedicate this set to the 'good doctor'...Julius Irving." After naming off other well-known athletes like Randall Cunningham, Ben comments, "I'm showing my age here." Immediately before "Burn To Shine," Ben talks about his double six-string, which has two necks, "but you can see that. Gibson specially made it for me, so that I can slide around up here and pick down here." The song indeed makes the audience feel good, which is evident in their response. Ben precisely tosses his slide out to a guy standing two rows in front of her. "Faded" lays down its two remarkable breaks before and after the instrumental jam. Paying close attention as always, she tries to hear only the drums or only the bass, but it seems to be impossible to differentiate between it all because it is so incredibly good and the guys are just right on it tonight! Ben gives much thanks to the guys of DMB again and says, "We don't deserve it; we don't deserve a damn thing, but we got it, so we'll take it." He announces the title track of the third record called the "Will To Live" as the next song. In response, a woman standing next to her lets out a shriek of sheer joy. As Ben belts out the lyrics, "still he walks taller than most of us can...than most of us can," her stomach rises almost as if it is up in the clouds. Juan and Dean back up Ben to the end of the song. Ben takes a drink of water as someone in the front yells out for "Sexual Healing." After responding with an almost questioning tone, Ben asks the crowd, "Guys have you ever looked over at the woman you're with, or the man...cause I'm cool with that...and thought, damn baby, why don't you show me a little shame?" He then asks the women the same question and states that this next set will be "the anti-homophobic set." People cheer in praise. Ben announces, "Incidentally, this next song is titled, 'Show Me a Little Shame'." He begins with a repeated emotional "you" and then drops into the rest giving it a real bluesy feel. Owh! The energy becomes stronger and more full of life as the song progresses. During the period of when no music is being played, a guy two rows behind her and to the left exclaims, "Ben, you're all right!" Ben says surprisingly, "I'm all right? Man, I'm better than all right. You eat a bowl of corn flakes, and you're all right! These two words are never used in conjunction with Juan or me, but I don't brag." "Forgiven" begins with the exquisite intro and continues to jam. She closes her eyes to feel the music sink deeply into where her stomach and heart meet. Opening her eyes slightly, she can see and hear that Dean and Juan are right on. The song ends, and she looks around the stadium to see how many people there are and realizes that seats have been sold behind the stage again. However, this time a clear tarp hangs over the sides of the stage in hopes to improve the view! Ben says hello to the back, front, and the middle because he doesn't want to leave anyone out. In the beginning of "Manic Depression," it begins to rain. Somehow the raindrops increase her energy and induce an enormous smile, she continues to dance even though a puddle is forming beneath her feet. After ripping through a sick ending jam, Ben stands and mouths a thank you, places his guitar in his chair continuing to make it play by slapping the strings and moving the slide back and forth along the strings. Dean tosses his sticks into the crowd and follows David and Juan off to stage left. Ben gives a "thank you" out to the people and is the last to leave. She becomes speechless and thinks, where are all those amazingly descriptive words when you need 'em? With it still raining, she walks up from the field towards the exit. She leaves the stadium, aware once again that she may not enter again. While passing through the parking lot sea of multi-colored keg cups and empty balloons, she becomes even more silent, wondering how people can leave such a mess. The rain keeps falling, almost expressing her emotions, and she remembers to smile.