Sunday 10/30/2016 by phishnet

VEGAS2 RECAP: WE WANTED PHISH THIS WAY

[Editor's Note: Please welcome guest recapper Sven Jorgensen, whose brain --running on fumes after days deprived of sleep and oxygen-- is in a time zone that does not exist. -CD.]

IT is impossible to please everyone all the time. But Phish, as an ensemble of elder jambandsmen, seems to please their fans most of the time. And last night's gig at the weirdly intimate, yet 17k capacity, MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas was no exception.

The second night of the four-night Cirque du Phish, that culminates Monday evening in a Halloween extravaganza, could have been a subdued, through-the-motions, crucible of patience, a comparatively vapid night of rest for the band and fans. It was not. It flowned balls.

Photo © Noah Cole
Photo © Noah Cole

Openers possess the potential for epic flubmongering, occurring as they do so close to soundcheck, before the band has digested their expertly-prepared meals and warmed up. But “The Birds”—the second Chilling Thrilling tune to open a show this run, and likely a harbinger of tonight’s opener—was tight and punchy. Even the “Kill Devil Falls” that followed morphed from its habitually melodic, Trey-led, happy-happy self to a stirring peak. And Mike’s “555”? Though not extended, it was executed well, much like the gorgeous “Roggae” that took off next, its relatively small peak no turnoff given its celestial grace.

Gumbo” raged. While there was no piano outro by Page, and the ending was atypically cacophonous and a bit ambiloquent (with Trey teasing “Call to the Post”), “Gumbo’s” jam funked mightily, making for a must hear version. “Lawn Boy” involved a rare shout-out by Page to Mike side, “Wilson” was played fine, and “Maze”—a song that like “Julius” is immediately overrated by many-a-fan because it is routinely impressive—sounded great from the toilet.

Photo © Allie Carson
Photo © Allie Carson

“Wingsuit” brought tears to the eyes. Trey’s majestic solo seemed inspirited by something ineffable, even though, in all candor, the song has a profound meaning to some of us, and our hearts no longer experience the tune with objectivity. “More,” which has concluded the first set every time it has been performed to date, is perhaps the most popular song from Big Boat. Both its chorus and music are rousing, and it deserves its popularity, providing a wonderful transition to set break. Last night it capped-off what was easily a “top tier” first set.

The second set began meekly, with Trey a bit tentative and fragile in the opening composed section of “Mercury.” Its jam eventually took on a dark tone, yet glided along hypnotically before an arguably injudicious transition to “Piper.” While “Piper” has certainly done amazing things over the course of its history, last night’s version was competitive with the finest, featuring spectacularly adept communication from the band, for example when Trey repeated a theme evocative of a hyperactive “Oh Happy Day.” It was a vibrantly orchestral version that soared for many measures and peaked magnificently. You didn’t want it to end.

Photo © Stephen Olker
Photo © Stephen Olker

But end it did into a “Scents and Subtle Sounds” that, unfortunately, began abruptly and sans its intro. The jam of this short version appeared to reach an early peak, and while this peak was sustained for a while, the improv dissolved into a fog, during which Trey appeared to begin “Lizards” before imperiously launching “Tweezer.” This perfect setlist call caused the room to explode in ecstasy, shaking bleachers of seats, and launching tens of thousands of arms and souls skyward. Although a relatively short version, “Tweezer’s” jam reflected our intense energy, thundering fiercely forward, measure after measure. After climaxing, the jam then slowly, smoothly, and serenely segued into the fourth quarter and “I Always Wanted It This Way.”

A tuneful, upbeat Page song from Big Boat, “IAWITW” trumpets plenty of effects from Page’s many instruments, and involves a lot of room for improvisation. Trey spent much of last night’s version, however, on the marimba lumina. And well, for several measures, the jam also appeared to involve each band member playing (awkwardly) in a different time signature, with Trey chording at first slowly—as if he might want to segue into “Ghost”—but then speeding-back-up dramatically, deliberately out of step with everyone else. It was odd and vexing, and while everyone eventually got back on the same beat, the song didn’t take long to peter out into “Horsilent,” which ended the second set along with a triumphantly rough-at-times “Golgi Apparatus.” The encore, “Shine A Light” and “Tweezer Reprise,” was well-played and concluded what was unquestionably among the finest shows of the year, given its pre-4th-quarter highlights. -Sven

Photo © Noah Cole
Photo © Noah Cole

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Comments

, comment by APR519
APR519 That one section with each playing different time SIGs was very strange. Wonder if it was on purpose. Good review.
, comment by _Wood_
_Wood_ Nice review. I had to look up "flowned".
, comment by Rebajamphan1
Rebajamphan1 I believe that the boys will take Seven Below deep again. I love that song...If not sooner than New Year's.

I expect the obvious to serve as jam vehicles over the next two nights at LV: Carini, DWD, NMINML, and Twist. Perhaps, a big Theme, Drowned, and a bustout of Esther.
, comment by justrelaxyouredoingfine
justrelaxyouredoingfine The marimba section by Jon in Mercury is so beautiful. It sounds like the steel drums to me.
, comment by Glassman
Glassman NMINML was played on night one. Thanks for the review. And Thanks for not comparing it to this show that song like 90% of the reviews. People are way to hard on the fellas.
, comment by GenoTreyBall
GenoTreyBall IT was definitely there last night. Thanks for a great review. Thank you, Phish, for an amazing show.
, comment by Rebajamphan1
Rebajamphan1 Sorry Glassman, I meant C&P and Waves...not NMINML.

Just joined phish.net, yet have been religiously on site.

My first show was 7/18/93. And I attended 12 phish shows before my 5th dead show(6/30/95). Nevertheless, I had 33 phish shows in person under my belt between I c light and colombus 2000. I was sans phish until 6/23/13. I traveled to Merriweather solo for 7/13/13 and 7/14/13. Since then, it's only been couch tour. Surely over 50 shows now,

This summer I witnessed some good music via couch(all available on live phish), but only Jacksonville this fall due to financial restraints. Decided to bypass tonight's show, needing to choose between tonight and tomorrow. Three sets!
, comment by SoulShakedownStreetParty
SoulShakedownStreetParty Maze from the toilet? Really? You crazy.
, comment by Bosco057
Bosco057 Justrelaxyourdoingfine- Lol. Did you quote Live Art there on purpose, or was it an accident?
, comment by timst101
timst101 I'd straight up piss in the aisle before I ever went to the bathroom during a Maze.
, comment by thumpasaurus
thumpasaurus Great review kind sir. Was there for all 4 nights of their majesty and yes we were all vibrating with love and light. Btw i called the Mercury opener 5 seconds before it opened 2nd set to my new homey i met during setbreak. Also was that not a freaky and extended Guy Forget jam during Piper.
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