, attached to 2003-01-04

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo A Llama opener is always a good thing. Always. Although, that doesn't necessarily mean what follows will always be (as) good as the pounding opening drum riff and totally frenetic guitar riff that essentially says, "BLASTOFF MOTHAFUCKKKAAAS!!!." Well you can't blame them for trying! Perhaps some emotional/spiritual/or perhaps even physical fatigue was setting in for this set - understandably so as they hadn't played a show together in 2+ years ... let alone four shows in five days - let alone reunion shows at two of their biggest "home courts." These guys are professional musicians, absolutely, but they are also people who experience emotion, stress, and the general atrophy that comes with the amount of invested energy, soul, and electricity they brought to their fans the previous three nights, and subsequent two decades. My defense of the (speculative) band's spiritual/emotional/physical status in this set is because I do love them so much. But since I am here to review the music itself as much as I am here to explain the far-reaching impacts of the music on its listeners and bank alike, I will try to be as fair as possible. So here goes... (hangs head in shame)

The first set is dull, minus Llama. The band seems worn out. Emotionally and spiritually drained, which by no surprise would lead to physical fatigue. Nothing pops in the first set like things were in the previous nights. It feels like they can't *give* anymore. This is awesome because Phish really gave it all the previous three nights, but not so awesome because I am sure the paid ticketholders might have had expectations a little higher due to the magnitude of the previous thee nights. Oh well. It is still a Phish show and I will bet good money that most of those in attendance had a pretty good time.

Set 2 packs more punch. It opens up with a straight-up, type-1, rock and rolling version of Rock and Roll. Nothing fancy here, just 12 minutes of in-your-face shreddage that already makes up for the lack of energy in set 1. A very solid opener. Mike's Song drops into the two slot and immediately picks up where Rock and Roll left off. This was a *very* strong 1-2 punch to opener this set. Mike's Song gets into a growling, aggressive, yard-dog style jam that provide the ferocity and intensity that was non existent in set 1. The Mike's jam was really fantastic, even though it lacked its signature peak (this was strange and weird, a very "wtf?" moment I am sure for the show-goers). It sounds like Phish is about to drop into Hydrogen, no wait, Simple, no wait, Mountains in the Mist. It sounded as though there was some mis-remembering of previous nights' setlists, or miscommunication on what would flow out of Mike's, but eventually they get to Mist. Another head-scratcher. Mist was well-played and provided a nice, although unnecessary break to catch our breath (like I speculated earlier, perhaps the band just didn't have much left in the tank after the sheer emotional and spiritual immensity of the previous three nights... and that's not even mentioning the amazing improvisational exploration they were able to accomplish). Weekapaug is MOST WELCOME after Mist, as the dance party was in dire need of the musical equivalent of a AED to get the blood flowing again. Paug delivers! A rolling, grooving version that ventures into deep type-2, this Weekapaug is really a show-saver. Filled with bubbly Trey, splashy Fish, bouncy Mike, and scratchy Page, this version has it all. It goes deep into the rabbit hole before emerging on the other side as What's the Use?. A new perfect pairing. Ethereal and spacey, this WTU is just what the doctored order to give us our recommended daily dose of psychedelia. Thank goodness. WTU grumbles and growls into Down with Disease in very interesting fashion. This DWD follows in the footsteps of Rock and Roll and Mike's Song, as it delivers balls-to-the-wall type-1 maelstrom. A true scorcher of a jam, this version could find a home in easily 1994. It is really fast, and really good. Plus it returns at full sprint to the signature, triumphant DWD riff at the end which I ABSOLUTELY LOVE! Gives me chills to just think about. Fast Enough For You finds an odd niche in the final frame of the final set, and while I like the song, and I do enjoy the peacefulness and dreaminess of this version, it feels out of place. But then again, who I am to judge - this is only one man's opinion. Regardless, the song is beautifully played. 2001 is next which, from the opening snare hit, has the feel of the show closer. This version, for all intents and purposes, is bland. Not much going on here, save for a truely heartfelt, warm "Thank you" from Trey. Sorry 2001, you really did try.

Friday is the encore. It is also the single worst song in the history of the earth. I am sorry for those of you who experienced Friday at this show, in this spot (I myself have seen two... and I am a worse person for it). What a bummer to close the run, but let's, not let one song rain on our parade! The whole four shows were really, truly a statement from Phish that THEY WERE BACK!

Must-hear jams: Weekapaug Groove > What's the Use? > Down with Disease
Probably-should-listen-to-jams: Mike's Song, Fast Enough for You


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