After a year off the road in 2011, the Dave Matthews Band kicked off its 2012 summer tour in Hartford, CT.

Expectations were high but on this second night of their two-night stand in Hartford, they were exceeded. Despite most of last year off, it was clear the band hadn’t lost its touch when it started with “Sweet,” the mellow tune introduced at the 2011 DMB Caravans, featuring Dave Matthews on ukulele. The band followed with a calm “Grace Is Gone,” but countered the mellow mood with a strong “Eh Hee,” followed by “What Would You Say,” and “Don’t Drink the Water.” The calm mood returned during “Beach Ball.” Next the band went into a powerful jam during “#41” featuring brilliant violin solo from Boyd Tinsley.

With a new album produced by Steve Lillywhite expected to come out later this year, DMB played the new original “Mercy.” This beautiful song, which was already tested out several times prior to this show, included Matthews on guitar before he transitioned to piano. Matthews later invited out guitarist Stanley Jordan for “Lie In Our Graves.” The jam went to new heights with Jordan’s fret tapping fills and solo. After an incredible jam with Jordan, the band treated the audience with another extended jam. The band jumped into a rare, unexpected, mid-set “Two Step,” which included a “Time Bomb” interpolation. Later, they went into “So Much To Say,” which segued into “Anyone Seen The Bridge” before finally flowing into a great “Too Much.”

After “Too Much” the band walked off the stage, but quickly returned for an encore to a “D-M-B” chant. The band continued trying new arrangements with “Save Me,” which was only played by the entire band during this tour. Carter Beauford pounded the drums before the band kicked into “Halloween” and jammed into “Tripping Billies.” After a stellar show in Hartford, Dave Matthews Band set a fine tone for the tour and the new album to follow.