, attached to 2009-12-03

Review by waxbanks

waxbanks Standard fine Set I, '09 vintage. Set II is just relentless energy and intensity, very fine. The DWD jam follows a complex trajectory: standard rock > Page declaration > intricate funk > more interesting rock > standard missed chance to do something crazy > unusually complex space > Piper. Great stuff. Piper emerges from a *thick* musical fog and goes huge for six minutes before dissipating into another of those interesting self-devouring funk-rock grooves the boys have been getting into lately. Fluff is Fluff, but there's an addictive and intriguing version of Cities waiting on the other side, with a velvety piano-flavoured minor jam that the three melodic players fracture and fragment before Trey makes...

...alas...

...a hard left turn into Free. Standard fare, really. The Halley's > 2001 transition is an interesting choice, and the crowd obviously ate it up - the comic-rock bounce of Halley's Comet lends the short dance number an unusual texture. Sprightly version, nothing out of the ordinary for 'Phish 3.0.' Bowie is Bowie, lately: a more or less monotonic (this does not mean 'monotonous,' rather it roughly means 'unidirectional') seven-minute build to a familiar wailing climax. Zero is Zero.

There's an implied comparative function to reviewing - the experience of one show is hard to compare directly to another, so we compare recordings and memories and impressions. In that spirit, I'll say that this second set is comparable in 'quality' to the other MSG seconds overall, though it lacks the effortless flow of 12/4 and the standalone brilliance of the 12/2 Light. You really can't go wrong with 2009 Phish! It's all focused, empathetic, energetic, joyous music, and the improvisation is more *detailed* than it's ever been, by a long shot. We haven't yet returned to the Deep Places we visited nightly in the late 90's, but that's fine. What's happening now is wondrous in its way. Seek out this second set and give the first frame a listen while you're at it. To tune up your ears and all.


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