, attached to 2013-10-29

Review by swampdog421

swampdog421 I hit up my first show in two years last night, and man, it was solid. The my last couple shows were a disappointment, Merriweather in '11, and some 2.0 shows that were 'meh' at best. Last night was a complete 180 from those shows, and based on the most recent reviews of Worcester and Hartford, it was a continuation of the high energy, excellent playing.

The theme of the night was patience, and that patience led to the development of some solid jams. In listening to other shows, and reading PT reviews about one of the members ducking out of a jam into a new song too early, last night saw the band, especially Trey, show patience, and let the jam build and evolve. The other thing i noticed was an isolated Gordo. Not sure if this was due to my seat (behind Page, facing his Hammond directly), a bad mix, or whatever, but it was like Gordo stage left, rest of Phish stage right. He was the last one on stage, last one off, he was low in the mix, and his tone was a little off. i'll get into more details shortly.

Show started w/ Cars, Trucks, Buses. Great opener and Page just tore it up from the start. I remember thinking that if i just walked on stage and started tearing it up this easily, it was going to be a good night. Throughout the tune, i was waiting for Trey to start playing over Page to get to his solo, but it didn't happen. Page controlled the tune and you could see and hear Trey accenting Page's solo and sitting back until Page gave him the nod. Trey's solo was short and while the band botched the transition back into the melody, Fish filled the botch seamlessly and the band finished the tune nicely. Stealing time was a great 2nd tune, and here is where i fell victim to my lack of patience. During the solo, Trey sat back, and i thought some whales were in danger of death, but he was letting the other guys build a wall to play off of. the jam built slowly and steadily then Trey turned it on and started filling each and every crack of the proverbial wall.

I think Mr. Minor or Andy Gadiel said they judged a show by the 3rd tune. Get the opener and 2nd tune out of the way, and see how they handle the 3rd tune as a barometer for the rest of the show. Ginseng was tight. The band started it together and Trey's bluegrass picking was tight. Vocals were great, solos were great, song done. nice work, now onto Wolfmans. loved this version. Trey was hitting the offbeats during the last 'its the wolfman's brother' vocals and as soon as he was done, he and Gordo stopped and it was just Fish and Page throwing down some nasty hard funk. Not like '97, but hard toned clavinet and a steady 4/4 that once again built a solid foundation to jam off. Trey took the lead about 3/4 of the way through, and put a solid ending to the tune. Sparkle came and went, nice to hear, done and done. Right after the end, Trey hit the opening chords to Walkaway and the crowd came right back. Page was red faced and signing his heart out, Fish was filling the spaces like he owned the tune and the jam was again, solid and to the point. Divided was next. it was about this time where I realized i had to pee. I put Divided into the same category as Runaway Jim and Foam. They're going to play it, they'll play it well, and it'll be very similar to all previous versions. i listened to the composition, Trey was a bit muddled towards the latter part of the comp before the break, and as the pause started, i hit the head. no regrets here. short line, grabbed a drink and made my way back in to hear the end. Split Open was next. Before Fish started, there was a lot of chatter back and forth, as if they were planning something. When i heard the opening drums, i immediately thought of the Glen Falls version. Please, please don't shit on the song this time the way you did a few nights ago. Apparently this was the band's 'sorry about the last time we played this tune' apology. they nailed the composition, acapella was good then came the jam. it was dark, it was tight, it was a constant build. no one lead it, it was a true group effort and it was intense. The jam climaxed and within a few seconds, the band changed modes and it went from this dark, minor laden jam, to a one chord, major subtle jam. I had no idea what just happened, and by looking around, everyone else was in shock was well (in the best way possible). the transition was smooth and the second part of the jam segued nicely into a hotter than hell Julius closer. No whale calls, not waiting around by anyone. melody, jam, fire..... end of set.

we contemplated the 2nd set opener. 1st Tube? Buried Alive? as the band came on, Trey and Page started playing with high notes, some intensely distorted harmonics, then Gordo dropped the DWD line. This tune was the epitome of the patience and evolution i referenced earlier. They get through the first part and as the jam slows down, Trey starts hitting the D major chord. I immediately thought back to the last Merriweather show when they opened the 2nd set w/ Tweezer, and within 2 min of the jam part, when into Taste. i felt robbed, you don't do that to Tweezer, ever... So Trey is hitting the D major and i'm wondering if he's going to kill this jam and head into Taste or Jim... patience, patience, patience, and from there we heard a solid jam building off the D major strumming. its as if they were trying to get back into the main chord progression, but the one chord jam just felt good. from there, they went into Taste, perfectly... Taste was played well, great to hear it again and once that was done, Trey started 20yrs later. this is a dark song, and the and put on the musical costume, falling into each crevice.... CK5 kept the red and yellow lights for most of the jam, it was reminiscent of the old school Tweezers, the intense stares and the low end distortion. nasty... as we held our heads low and tight, Trey started Piper. much different mood than 20yrs, but once the lyrics were done, they fell right back into the darkness. at one point in the jam, Gordo dropped a bomb and my chest vibrated... then it happened, Number line. some jackass had a #-line sign earlier. i thought the band established that signs were done. and, if you still bring one, why bring one for something that's already in rotation? i'm blaming the kid with the sign. its a great tune, but had no place in that set. happy happy, bullshit! we were dark, nasty, intense, no place for happy happy oh my friend... oh well, it happens, it happened, they played it well and it ended.

Once the band finished, Trey talked to Fish and Page, no one talked to Gordo. ok, so they're ending the set w/ something that Fish starts or Trey and Page. Gordo just sat there, and i kept thinking, they didn't tell Gordo. So YEM begins and there's no base in the opening comp. Shit, no one told Gordo! i guess after 30 yrs, you can pick it up quickly. I was excited to hear this. i was listening to the Merriweather version from this summer, and it was a Gordo led jam. Last night was no different. right after Page's solo, Trey, for the first time that night, looked right at Gordo and he took it from there. Mike laid down a solid slap groove and the band went off. Trey took the reigns briefly and then gave way for Gordo's ending solo. Trey was feeling it, but man, dude can't dance. at one point, he was twirling on stage as Gordo was high up on the neck of the base just cranking out some sick rock/funk/dirty notes. vocal jam was amusing and then Grind was a nice ending. btw, i swear i heard 'Georgia' in the vocal jam. a nod to Allmans musical costume?

Encore! Bouncing... ok, well, please, make this a 2 song encore. REBA!!!! really? yes! one little complaint here. in the 2nd verse, Fish never hit the bass drum, he was just messing around on the blocks. it was an empty verse w/out the bass drum. it didn't take long to forget about that as the band nailed the composition. i think everyone hopes and get's nervous about Reba composition. its not easy and demands precision. well, it was precise and nearly flawless. Great jam to end the show and as the whistling began, i put on my coat. but wait, a 3rd tune, really? hell yeah! when you hear the opening chords to Good Times, Bad Times, you can't help but to get the goose bumps. it was LOUD, Page and Trey were screaming (in tune). Trey shredded through the composition and solo. did i mention it was LOUD???? the only thing that would have topped that encore was a Sabatoge to follow, played with the intensity of the 8/8/98 debut. i'm not complaining.... i left the arena with an ear to ear grin and a slight ringing in the ears.

as we walked out, the 4 buses were being escorted out. The band literally walked off the stage and into the buses. trying to catch a peak, we kept looking and bus #2 had Page sitting right next to the driver, smiling and waving to everyone as the motorcade made its way through downtown Reading.

Reading was solid. If you're heading to AC, you should be damn psyched. the band is in full gear, and its only going to get better!


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