Sunday 01/04/2015 by pzerbo

MIAMI4 RECAP: FROM RAGS TO RICHES

On Saturday night Phish concluded their season at Miami's American Airlines Arena. Let's cut right to the action...

Saturday’s first set opened with a classic five-song sequence that could have been lifted from a 1994 setlist playbook. “Maze” serves as a power-packed kickoff – along with 9/4/11 Dick’s only the second “Maze” show opener since 1995 – with Page and Trey trading confident and peppy leads. A compact but spirited “AC/DC Bag” set the stage for a sublime “Divided Sky” that anchored the set. “Cavern” kept the energy spiked, though with an odd digi-noise leftover plaguing the song’s beginning, one that would recur several times throughout the gig (feature or bug?). “Scent of a Mule” featured a (comically ‘off’) “Smoke on the Water” tease from Trey and a true Mike bass solo before the song’s “duel” portion, but was otherwise uneventful. First sets have been the achilles heel of modern Phish gigs, but this opening segment delivered solid goods.


Photo © Scott Harris

The band shifts to more current material with the new-to-Phish TAB classic, “Plasma,” Fuego’sDevotion to a Dream, and “Water in the Sky,” that offered opportunity for the obligatory south Florida cheer in response to the “filter out the Everglades” line. “Split Open and Melt” sticks the band’s foot in the improvisational door, with Trey’s digi-noise popping again which kicks the song off with a trippy darkness that they pursued vigorously in the jam. Trey’s playing early in the jam is melancholy, sweet and poetic, soaring softly, a honey rather than vinegar enticement even within the dark confines of the song. Page forms the perfect envelope of support for Trey to explore, the pocket is subtle but super effective. The jam’s climax does get a little dirty and chaotic before pulling in the reigns and taking the set home with “Character Zero.” Low though the bar may have been, front to back that is your Miami run’s best first set, and by a non-trivial margin.


Photo © Phish

Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan” made its first ever appearance in the second set opening slot, but would only serve as a brief launching pad to the greatness that would follow in the “Down with Disease.” Trey and Page lead the fresh, bright, sunny jam early, letting the song’s structural confines melt away ever so gradually. Fish and Mike locked down in a manner that wasn’t always so evident earlier in the run and provided frictionless loft for Trey’s soaring ascent. At the 10:30 mark we’ve totally dispensed with “DwD” as a song, with the first and most dramatic of several major plot twists. Page laid down a riff that the whole band picks up on immediately, a thick, funky, ass-shaking groove that was so coherent in the moment of expression that one would be forgiven for thinking that moment of magic was in fact composed. “Improvisation that sounds composed” is a phrase often used when describing the essence of peak Phish music, but this passage was so stunning and on-point that if it wasn’t composed, it should be, for a future song!


Photo © Scott Harris

My personal jaw-drop moment of this inspiring “Disease” was at ~16:30, when the jam could so easily have glided to a satisfactory conclusion; but Jon Fishman was having none of that, with a driving, rumbling insistence that nothing is over until we say it is, paving the way to the greatest of rewards. As the jam rounds the clock past the twentieth minute Fishman is in absolute beast mode as the hose is in the full ON position, with Trey riding a wave with a “Manteca”-infused sustain that filled the biggest moment and allowed true collective release, then playfully oozing bliss for the balance of the jam, with a final dose of aggressive weirdness from Trey and Page and an affirmational series of rings from Mike’s fight bell. This “Disease” was twenty-six minutes of dazzling artistry that we will be listening to for the rest of our lives.

Rather than reaching for a breather at the end of such a satisfying-if-mind-bending jam, “Light” takes the handoff and blasts off with the full momentum of the “Disease” as its tailwind. The jam is so chunky that it defies even the most sedentary to not get off their ass and move. This jam is a super active conversation, where all voices yearn for the listener’s attention as one, a textbook example of being “locked in,” offering enough complexity and challenge to hyperactive attentive listeners, while also being fire-under-seat danceable and broadly accessible, this “Light” was simply brilliant. A flawless “full arrow” -> to “Sneakin’ Sally” was the money move at the inflection point of the set, this wave was gaining steam and would not relent or yield. “Sneakin’ Sally” always titillates and delivers in the big moments, but this version ditched its traditional casing and went for a totally bonus if very un-“Sally”-like sonic excursion after the vocal jam.


Photo © Phish

When “Sand” finally washed on stage it was clear this would be a “no-breather” set that would hang ten until the final note. A short tour’s worth of highlights already in the bag from this set alone, Trey approaches this “Sand” with an active persistence, the freshness of the ideas radiating one after another, as if he traded in the glider that has been his aerial transport for so much of this past summer for a stunt plane ready to perform death-defying feats that will shock and amaze! “Harry Hood” starts with Trey in a super playful mood, one that would persist through the balance of the gig. Trey offered a “Happy Birthday” tease, apparently to someone on or near the rail, and threw in a few Pete Townshend windmills for good measure. This “Hood” is delightful, and while it doesn’t go nearly as deep as many of the abundant selection of great versions of 2014, it didn’t need to, as the greatness of this set was long before cemented. A classic closing combo of “Suzy Greenberg” (with a brief “They Attack!” quote from “The Birds”) and the “Good Times Bad Times” encore ended the show much as it began, letting the engines out on the greatest improvisational rock band alive for one last celebratory release before we go our separate ways until next summer.

This show exudes brilliance, with the jam-packed second set immediately in a top tier of 2014-15 sets alongside 7/13/14 Randall’s, 7/27/14 MPP2, and 10/31/14 II Vegas. The show ends the season with an emphatic exclamation, leaving the best memories to linger as we wait for the days to get longer. This show has it all and represents the core of why so many of us are Phish fans. Treasure the memory and let it propel you all to health and happiness in the new year. Hug your friends, hang on to the smiles, until we meet again in summer 2015!

-Phillip Zerbo


Photo © Andrea Nusinov.

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Comments

, comment by DeerCreek_King
DeerCreek_King Great review for a great show.
, comment by spirittapper20
spirittapper20 I think that digi-weirdness we were all hearing was actually Trey's reverb from his amps...that sound usually happens when you "shake" your reverb tank while you're playing...Its awful! I will forgive the team....
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS hoorah
, comment by PennPhan
PennPhan Sounds like this was a Sunday show on a Saturday!

I'll have to see if this DwD tops the Reading Disease, my fave of 3.0 (most likely because I was there for it).
, comment by n00b100
n00b100 Just an absolutely superb show; that DWD through Sand sequence, much like the justly lauded Ghost > Theme -> Cities sequence, feels like one massive jam with a few breaks thrown in for composed songs. Phish has really closed out their last two big runs in style, haven't they?
, comment by rmc2123
rmc2123 @PennPhan said:
Sounds like this was a Sunday show on a Saturday!

I'll have to see if this DwD tops the Reading Disease, my fave of 3.0 (most likely because I was there for it).
Mike was wearing the lightning shirt, so, yes.
, comment by KRISTINZWATT
KRISTINZWATT Does anyone know who had the birthday? That was special!
, comment by Ez_and_not_so_Fast
Ez_and_not_so_Fast About half of my highlights were in the first set, and that's saying something. You could hear that we were in for a special show already by the control and mastery of the Divided Sky, it's a real beauty. And don't sleep on the the Grand 1, 2, 3 Punch that Scent of a Mule, Plasma and Devotion to a Dream throw.

Overall, one of the best shows Phish has played.
, comment by Sprachtor
Sprachtor Great review, as always.
, comment by Rutherford_theBrave
Rutherford_theBrave Thank you Phish and crew for putting on an excellent four night run!

Nice review Phillip Zerbo.

Happy New Year Everyone! Looking forward to seeing my favorite band in 2015.

Cheers!
, comment by thephisherman
thephisherman I really felt that either the Light jam or the Sally jam or maybe both were the merging of the two major jam themes that they were playing with. You have the Under Pressure jam from Ghost and the Manteca jam from Theme come together in some of the greatest improv I have ever witnessed. I find it kind of funny that the first time I heard both of these jams was in an 11/1 version of Twist. I need to go back and dig and see if I can find roots of these jams that existed before those 11/1 Twists
, comment by wtractor
wtractor awesome. who was in section 324?
, comment by phriendlynellie
phriendlynellie I believe the HBD tease was for Julie Posner, a rail regular.
, comment by phriendlynellie
phriendlynellie Scratch that, it was Lacy Boughn's B-day.....
, comment by Destiny_Bound
Destiny_Bound I believe that would qualify as a "Mound" tease, which starts about 12:40 in DwD. No?
, comment by Gomes300
Gomes300 good menu icon on your Android tool.As soon as you reach there, functions of Kodi iphone application.Kodi could play best.. Kodi for iPhone Download
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