07.25.00 Denver, CO

Mile High Stadium with Ozomatli, Dave Matthews Band

I Was There
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Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals Setlist 1969-12-31 - Mile High Stadium - Denver, CO

Ben emphatically held up his guitar ("Ground On Down" style) after an especially hard rocking version of "The Woman In You." David Leach played percussion with Dave Matthews Band on "Drive In Drive Out." Both he and Ben played on "All Along the Watchtower." There was no "Concrete Jungle" in "Attitude."

Who Went

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julysmile84185's picture

Water, cold drinks, and anticipation of the show are the things keeping people up today in this 100-plus degree weather. The parking lot is filling up as some people drive in with car loads of people and others have coolers and barbecue grills in the beds of their trucks. It's all in preparation for the big show. In the late afternoon, David, Dean, and Ben visit the Ben Harper and Innocent Criminal trailer. Insanity. Ben is kind as always and stands outside to talk with people, unfortunately, Ben is swarmed by a large group of partiers who refuse to back up and be patient, which causes Ben to leave the scene. Time passes and some clouds move in and cool things down. She is standing in the parking lot near an entrance when she hears cheers muffled by the stadium walls. Noticing that the time is 7:01p.m., she bolts through the security check and into the hallway of the first level in the stadium. She is panicking as she heads through the crowd to get to her seat; it is like running against the current. She finds an opening to the 100-level seats and begins running down the stairs. She looks up at the stage, which seems to be so far away, and tries to figure out the number of the section in which she is standing. She can hear the words of "Burn One Down" and just wants to stop and dance. So, after passing by a guy who is loudly singing along, she stops in the second row of Section 108 and places her bag in a seat. She made it! Just in time to hear the end. Ben thanks the people and says, "it's so good to be back in Denver...Colorado. We've been all over...Steamboat Springs...Boulder." He talks about the stadium and the people, "it's so big. It's large. You guys are large. That's all I can say." The crowd thanks Ben in response with loud cheers. The guys blaze through "Don't Take that Attitude To Your Grave," while leaving just enough room for a rippin' jam. Even though it wasn't needed, there was no transition into "Concrete Jungle." "The Will to Live" sends out a wave of power and inspiration. If one could imagine something that could only get better and better within 5 minutes...this is it! While Ben preps for the next song, he says hey to the front and the back of the stadium, "I will try to get my voice back there." He picks out a few people he can see in the upper sections such as, a guy in a fire engine red shirt and one in a bright green shirt. Ben jokingly says, "Man, that shit is bright...you got to unplug that mother fucker." The version of "One Road to Freedom" tonight is the best ever. She hears something different in it...the way it is being sung is definitely noticeable, but it's something else...maybe it 's the tone...maybe it's the tempo...there is just something that made it feel so wonderful. How else do you explain excruciating beauty? When the song ends Ben gives out a thank you and says something about talking, but he'd "rather play." He then gets tongue-tied and light-heartedly says, "After I learn how to use my new lips I'd like to make a few introductions." He gives thanks to Ozomatli and BH and IC fans and then thanks "the Marilyn Manson...oh...I mean the DMB fans." He introduces Juan, Dean, David, and himself..."we are Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals." People passing through her temporary aisle are constantly interrupting her, as they yell to their friends, talk on their cell phones or carry their full glass of beer toward the field entrance. All of this activity makes it extremely difficult to hear anything being sung or said by the guys. It is just one big party. Everyone, especially those who have come only to see DMB, are there for the party and it just happens that there is live music too. As Ben leads into "Forgiven" with the unique intro., she closes her eyes in hopes to feel and hear only the music. When the rest of the guys start in as the intro. ends, she tilts her head back and opens her eyes. She sees the light blue sky spotted with white clouds, causing the corners of her mouth rise up to express her satisfaction. Everything just seems to be perfect. The song ends and Ben gives another thank you. A power trippin' security guard continues to drag people who have jumped the fence into the field section away. She stares and wonders why this has been happening all night. Ben verbally observes, "there is a girl over there who has a hot pink boa on...I'm down...you have to suffer to be beautiful...David knows all about that." Ben introduces "The Woman in You" as the next song. People cheer as he starts in with the intro.. Ben's wails are soulful cries that fill every space in the stadium. She feels cold and warm at the same time. Weighted by emotion, she can barely move. Ben holds the second to last "woman" while David, Dean, and Juan show the audience what's up. The song ends abruptly, and Ben forcefully slides his guitar off his lap towards Juan. Ben turns to the mic. and gives a softly spoken "thank you." Just as "Faded" begins, a guy four seats to the left of her throws up on the ground...fortunately, the stanky smell is overpowered by the jammin' music. There is a long prep before Ben introduces Nick Rich. The audience gives a sweet response and welcoming for him as he takes position on stage. "Steal My Kisses" stirs up the crowd as Nick grooves and Juan busts out a scratching noise with his bass. She looks up and across the stadium only to see a girl in an upper section dancing all alone, right in the middle of the seats. She smiles and thinks, right on! The stadium starts to shake; everyone is dancing and clapping along. This is incredible! Denver has to be the gateway to the West; everyone here knows what's up with BH and the IC. If people keep dancing like this there won't be any need to tear this stadium down in order to make room for parking for the new stadium being built next door. After all the guys jump around, Nick ends it with a "sha-ka-la-ka." David waves goodbye and is the last off stage. An almost suffocating feeling overcomes her as she realizes that it's the last show of the tour. Her eyes fill with tears and she remembers to live in the now. She takes it all in with one breath and turns towards the stairs to go find her real seat. She walks through the river of people once more only to find her seat in the closest side section to the stage, two rows up. Oh well, she knows that she had been too anxious to find her seat at the beginning in fear that she'd miss more of the set.
About two and a half hours later, towards the end of DMB's set, David comes out to join DMB on "Drive in, Drive Out." When David and Ben both join DMB for "All along the Watchtower," she is in the ideal spot. David throws it down on both songs, and Ben just rips it up on "Watchtower." She can feel the difference in the vibe of the stadium when David and Ben take stage again. Ben goes around the entire stage thanking all of the DMB guys before taking his seat. It just feels whole. When Ben sings, "...and the wind began to howl" it's chilling, damn it's awesome! It is such a trip to see David and Ben up on the jumbotron screens. Ben is blended with the image of the fire dancers on the screen during his solo. Woah, that's intense. Once again, before she knows it, it is over and the lights come on to cue people to leave. She just stands there feeling it and holding onto the experience, locking it in with a smile. It will be difficult to hold her breath until the next show, but at least it will be a well awaited exhale since Ben, Dean, David, and Juan will be headlining.