Dave Matthews and band did their good deed for 2003 when they played a huge benefit show to raise cash for music education in New York City's public schools. About 90,000 fans caught the event in person, but for those who couldn't make it, this triple-disc set delivers a goodly dose of the gig's electricity. Matthews and company were in peak form that night, as evidenced by crackling renditions of favorites like "Ants Marching" and "Too Step" (the latter of which extends past the 12-minute mark, emphasizing the instinctive interplay among the band's members). The band flexed their jamming muscles again on a version of "Jimi Thing" that winds its way around a verse or so of the Buffalo Springfield classic "For What It's Worth." That song is one of a passel to feature guest guitar work from Gov't Mule
veteran Warren Haynes
, who also takes the mic from Matthews to share vocals on a cover of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer." Matthews's sunny mood pervades the set, with numerous lyrical digressions -- most notably a customized-for-Gotham take on "Dancing Nancies" -- and plenty of free-form scatting. The upbeat ambience endures throughout, lending loads of energy to a solo-laced "All Along the Watchtower" and a communal warmth to a sing-along version of "Stay." It's easily the next-best thing to having been there.