, attached to 2003-12-29

Review by n00b100

n00b100 Does anybody have much of a good word for the NYE 2003 run anymore? I mean, I know 2.0 has enough of a rap against it to begin with, but even a cursory glance at the setlist reveals lots and lots to sink your teeth into - big first set jams, antics out the wazoo, and some crazy one-offs that really set this run apart from even the greater runs of old. It might not be the most musically extraordinary (95, 97, and 99 will be fighting over the crown until hell freezes over, I'd think), but it might be the most purely interesting, all told. 12/28's an average show; it's the last 3 shows that really give this run its special energy.

Set 1 kicks off with a Piper that zips forward with a ferocious propulsive energy before somehow finding its way back home; it's not quite on the level with the huge Pipers of the era, but it's still a damned fine way to start off any show. The rest of the set features very interesting song selection (where IS Foam these days?), with a second highlight coming in a fine LxL that just peaks and peaks and peaks, eschewing subtlety for Trey showing off and Fish blasting away on his cymbals. The Wolfman's, both funky and grimy in equal measure, is also worth a listen or two.

Set 2 is one of those sets that doesn't really have a standout jam, but is knitted together perfectly and adds up to a greater whole than its parts. Rock & Roll opens up the set, and it's a plain old high-energy version akin to the 7/12/14 version, but it starts cooling down as Page pulls out some spacey effects, and Trey starts up Twist. It doesn't take very long for Mike to pop on the envelope filter, and as Fish starts picking up the pace Mike picks out what can only be one bassline and the band slows down to properly usher in Boogie On Reggae Woman. Trey finds a different key from Boogie On and a surprisingly low-key groove emerges as Mike flips off the filter and Trey takes over, then Ghost slides in (the 3rd segue in a row), and we immediately get into a spartan jam as Mike and Trey take center stage, Fish and Page only offering the barest accompaniment.

The groove begins to pick up as Fish kicks up the tempo, Page going to the piano, and a really nice energy begins to emanate off the stage. Trey then moves into major key and the jam goes upbeat briefly, but soon enough they dip back into darkness, where they stay until Trey suddenly gets an itch and he starts hammering away on chords as the band hits a nice peak. Things drop back to a simmering boil, Trey again going back to chords, Page doing some work on the electric organ, and then explode into one more hard-rocking jam that neatly slides into Free. Free books along in its usual manner, Mike going back to his envelope filter, but then Fish and Page suddenly drop out and Trey and Mike have themselves a very nifty and kinda weird duel along the lines of the Trey/Page duel in the 12/2/97 Simple. They then kick back into Free with hardly a pause, and finish off a very nice suite of music that earns a well-deserved long applause break from a very appreciative crowd. A very cool Divided Sky is their reward for the love, and two separate encores close out a very fine show.

Final thoughts: the best show musically of the run, I'd say. Lots to sink your teeth into jam-wise, some really cool segues, a powerful Divided Sky to boot. Things are starting to heat up in Miami...


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