Phish took the stage last night at Dick's in Commerce City, CO, on the middle night of this tour-closing run at the same time as the previous night, 8:20pm, even though Friday's late start was presumably weather-induced. On a stage that seemingly continues to get narrower and taller, Phish came out with ferocious, staight forward, Saturday-night-blazing guns. While it was quickly obvious there would be no repeat in stitching together a theme-based set like the previous night, it was also quickly obvious that Phish was intent on not letting the majesty of the surroundings overpower their sound. There was absolute shredding throughout the first set, beginninng with the stalwart "Possum".
Containing spunky grooves, bright tone, and crisp playing that permeated the set, "Moma Dance" & "The Wedge" followed. A moment of hilarity ensued as Mike tried to signal "Ocelot" to Fish by "drawing" moustache whiskers with his fingers. For some reason, I thought "Mexican Cousin" was next. Nevertheless, the Saturday rocker continued from "Ocelot" to a soaring version of "The Divided Sky". A standout and fiery version of "Funky Bitch" with plenty of extra chops by both Page and Trey set the table for another rocker in "Axilla". Fish's percussive start to "Llama" was momentarily paused with Trey holding it together, ripping in and signalling, "Let's go!" And go they did. Despite a minor lyric stumble, this version had the ferocious power of "Llamas" of past as well as a couple "Streets of Cairo" teases. While "Fast Enough for You" was the first time in sixty minutes that gave fans a momentary respite from frenetic dancing and high octane playing, it seemed perfectly placed in the set and beautifully played. Like "Llama" it was only the second perfomance of the year and the only two songs of the set not seen often and recently this tour. While the set was heavy on nailing the standards with big sound, the one tune that went out of the box was the set closing "Wolfman's Brother". Funky and deep grooves permeated this 12 minute gem. Beautiful interplay among the band with mini-plinko jamming, bass thumping, pedal effects by Trey, and percussive groove laid down by Fish stitched this one together wonderfully. While the first set smoked pretty hard, it was most certainly "Wolfman's" that was the harbinger of things to come in the second set.
The first thirty minutes of Set II saw Phish at the absolute top of their game in a highlight not only of this Summer Tour or 3.0 as a whole, but simply a Phish highlight. This "Down with Disease" > "Tweezer" made the price of admission or the cost of the webcast worth it for most fans. "Disease" while not extraordinary on its own, perfectly set the table for the phenomenal "Tweezer" that followed. As "Disease" started putting its foot on the gas and reaching in new directions, slowly "Tweezer" emerged. The following 15 minutes or so saw the band locked perfectly together. Stunning interplay, sublime pace, and rich multi-textured jamming was everything you could possibly ask for in a Phish jam. No one band member over shadowing another, it was pure bliss as the melodies fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. This unfinished masterpiece gave way to "Golden Age," which seemed an apt choice. Certainly after the "Tweezer," it is clear that Phish is indeed in a golden age.
Phish took the typically straighforward "Limb by Limb" and "Kill Devil Falls" to new heights. Crushing every note, both versions were searing and, like "Divided Sky" in the first set, perfectly matched the peaks of the surrounding Colorado mountains. A relatively short "2001" followed. Beginning with great bass by Mike, and a typically funky groove, "2001" petered out quickly and gave way to "Light". The psychedelic and spacey jam was fantastic. As the jam was winding down, the "Down with Disease" guitar notes from Trey, beautifully overlaid on top of Page's synth, had the collective Phish nation on the edge of their seats and in the palm of the Trey's hand. While this major tease may have been a letdown not to get a full-blown "Disease" reprise, it was even more so as LivePhish labeled this brief interlude as "Down with Disease". Regardless of the fact that "Julius" followed, "Light" was another big highlight in a show chock full of many.
The final three songs, "Julius", "Cavern" and "Antelope" were all high energy, blistering versions that sandwiched the meat of the show nicely with the first set. Again teasing the unfinished "Disease", the "Antelope" was particularly hot.
"We'd like to play a song now that begins with the letter 'S' " is how Trey introduced the encore of "Sleeping Monkey". Followed with the obligatory and expected, but high-voltage, "Tweezer Reprise," it put an exclamation point on a fantastic show. If you have not yet listened to this show, it most certainly needs to be put high on you "To-Do" list.
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February 21, 2003
14 years ago
U.S. Bank Arena
Encore: Wading in the Velvet Sea
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