, attached to 2009-08-14

Review by waxbanks

waxbanks Apparently my earlier review is disapproved of by the ol' fans. No surprise there, though it wasn't a negative review at all. To restate: no, this is not a great show *on tape*. Being there was ecstasy. Good as the Disease, Piper, Stash, and Birds are, the rest of the show is a mix of standard '09 inessential excellence and had-to-be-there fun. Ghost > Psycho Killer > Catapult > Icculus is wonderful on paper and in person, but what Phish fan actually prefers a "good 10-minute Ghost > 2-minute Psycho Killer > 7 minutes of Trey fooling around" to a 20-minute Ghost, ON TAPE? I don't think anyone listens to the Ken Kesey show anymore either. As for YEM being a 'nonstarter,' I don't wanna burst anyone's bubble, but after the written portion it's tramps > quick Trey break > Mike solo, with Trey so enamored of his doofy noise loop he even starts the vocal jam with it. There are a million other well-performed YEMs out there; heck, a few of them got played on Summer Tour!

That said, the highlights are true highlights: another great 2009 Stash, a rich Birds, the welcome return of Forbin's > Mockingbird, and gorgeous jams in Disease and Piper.

I know no one wants to hear an ill word spoken of a show that invokes Forbin, David Byrne, and Mike/Kottke, but that Wilson just de-balls one of the prettiest jams of the year, seemingly a Reba jam coalesced out of nothing. At the show we were instantly pulled out of the groove by those opening notes; they sound perversely out of place, either spiteful or inept. Since Trey is neither of those things, we'll just call it a bold wrong decision. And wouldn't you prefer a song built on that 'Pong' jam to a goof-off that references it?

But the experience is what counts, and this show was a joyful celebration (even if Trey was 100% right about his audience's reading habits).

So.

If you're trying to figure out whether to download the show, I'd say there are a half-dozen other Summer '09 recordings to seek out first - 7/31 Red Rocks, 8/7 Gorge, Bruce, Camden, maybe the awkward but interesting Chicago show - not because they were 'better' but because they hold up better (to my ears) on yer stereo. And of course most of summer has been superseded by the strong fall tour. On the other hand, it's a download. It's not like you don't have the hard drive space. Grab the show and enjoy. It remains a well-rounded show, an exceptional night in Hartford that's pleasantly inessential on tape.


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