, attached to 2003-01-03

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo A five song first set!? You better believe it. 2003 were the days when a 4/5/6 SET (either 1 OR 2) was common. Imagine that... ::drifts off into a daydream:: Anyyywayyyys. A swampy Tweezer opens the second night at the Mothership. I am prepared for the beating I may receive for my appraisal of this Tweezer, but I stand by what I am about to say. This Tweezer reminds me of 1997. It is slow, it is thick, and it is gooey. Mike and Fish anchor a solid-but-not-too-fancy rhythm section that Trey and Page later over for a solid ten minutes, culminating in a delicious peak. Pace and feel-wise, this Tweezer could absolutely find a home in 1997, although tone-wise, it is easy to tell it is 2003. Still, this slow-downed, molasses-y Tweezer is a fantastic show opener. Tweezer melts into Theme where, again, the version reminds me of the high-flying versions of 1997. This versions absolutely soars for 10 minutes. A true gem. Foam hits next, following the cycle of the previous two nights of Jams -> Compositions. Foam is a little botched in the opening (wah wah) but Page really steals the show with his solo. Fancy-pants piano work from Page. The Chairman finally relents to Trey, who not to be outdone, takes drippy, inspired, delicate solo himself. Trey is showcasing some super nimble fingering during his go-around and it makes for a rousing rendition of Foam when paired with what Page was able to accomplish a couple minutes earlier. 1-2-3, BAM!BAM!BAM! What a start to the show! Pebbles and Marbles makes it debut in the 4-slot of an already gargantuan first set, and this version, much like the debuts of Walls, Waves, Seven Below, 46 Days, and Thunderhead, absolutely stuns us. If THIS is their new material... holy crap! Pebbles absolutely RIPS! A smokin hot 15 minute shred fest. YEM comes next and completes the all-star caliber starting 5 for this show. Before I get to the jam, you will most obviously hear the opening segment of YEM being stopped completely - then restarted - with Trey saying in an endearing and heartfelt way, "..we know this one SO well..." Maybe I am reading too far into the sentimentality of this, but the way Trey stopped this and addressed the crowd showed after the flub (to me at least) was a message that Phish was as committed to themselves and their fans as they ever had been, and they want to provide an experience that reflects it. Well done Trey. The jam features two really astounding peaks from Trey, the likes of which (had they happened in any year from 2009 onward) would warrant IMMEDIATE reactions of "OMG that YEM crushed! Best in the last six years!" ...or something of that ilk. My point here is, for 2003 or "2.0" this YEM is pretty standard, but if you were to place it contextually in 2009/10/11/12/13/14/15 we would be losing our minds at how amazing it is. This is saying two things 1) YEM used to absolutely melt faces with its intensity and peaks... so much so that even a YEM like this one is relatively "normal" for the time it happened. 2) Post-2009 YEMs, for the most part, lack the luster and zeal of their predecessors (save 12.4.09, 12.31.10, 7.14.13, and 10.31.14... and maybe a couple others). Long story short, for a set 1 closer, or for any setlist position, this is a pretty good YEM. Plus it had a super fun "George Takai/Tweezer Reprise" vocal jam mashup. When all is said and done, this set is an absolute barn-burner, non-stop jam fest from start-to-finish, and in some respects, could be placed right into 1997 without missing a beat.

Set 2 takes off right where Set 1 left off. A smoking hot BOAF gets the dance party going, wasting no time for Trey to send the Mothership on a collision course with the sun. Fans of Birds should seek this out, as it seethes energy and electricity. Wolfman's drops in next. Following the same pattern and general sound as the show-opening Tweezer, this Wolfman's is slowed down just a bit and has that swampy, thick 1997 sound to it. With the exception fo Trey's tone, this version is absolutely reminiscent of 97 Wolfmans. It is slow, groovy, and deep. About halfway through, it picks up the pace and hits a tremendous, celebratory peak before setting a different course to outer space. The final minutes are ethereal and cosmic, very pretty indeed, as they fade into Makisupa. This policeman is especially playful, having no time to write tickets or enforce the law, this version takes on a light-hearted (more so than usual) and comical jam segment. Axilla hits next and is perfectly placed and executed - keeping the already volcanic energy erupting from both band and fan. The set loses a little luster with a pedestrian 3rd quarter pairing of Twist > Free. Not much to write about with these two. Oh well. Can't always have a PERFECT show now can we... especially since we are only 7 sets into their come back (we can be so persnickety!!). All of these Dreams is okay. That's all I have to say about that, as I prefer the Anything but Me ballad to this one. To each their own. Next up is a show-closing Possum that is WHITE HOT!!! Holy crap! Much like YEM, if a Possum like this were to drop at any point in the last six years, we phanners would be losing our minds -- yet at the time, this Possum was standard fair... well maybe not standard (as this version really rages) but you get the idea. Three distinguishable peaks culminate a show that is really, really well-played even without having a true tent-pole jam (well, maybe Wolfman's.) Fans of Possum and fans of scorching Trey need to listen to this version ASAP.

Contact comes in the encore slot and let me tell you, I listened to this version three straight times. It is SO FUN! Incredibly economical for the amount AND type of improv it showcases, this Contact is (dare I say) among the best ever. Pure FUN!!! Tweezer Reprise puts about 14 exclamation points on an exceptional show, filled with peaks, flow, consistency, and talent.

Must hear jams: Theme from the Bottom, Foam, Pebbles and Marbles. Wolfman's Brother, Possum, Contact
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Tweezer, YEM, Birds of a Feather, Makisupa Policeman


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