, attached to 2003-11-28

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo Almost four months after Phish unleashed a psychedelic earthquake in Limestone, ME - vibrations which, still today, are felt reverberating through the Phish annals -the band returns to the stage to honor, well, themselves! Rightfully so, I will add, as they have had a brilliant comeback year in 2003 and owe it to themselves and their fans to relish in their own outstanding growth, longevity, and renewed improvisational freshness!

I don't think anyone expected Bouncing Around the Room to open the show, but it did, and it seemed as if it didn't really matter. The opening drum beat got a small roar of applause, but then once Mike dropped his bassline, the crowd really did explode. I mean, after IT, I think everyone was still in a state of elation and would be happy no matter the circumstance - Phish was back, baby! A standard-good Runaway Jim comes next and the energy swells. Nothing particularly interesting with this version, just good old straight-forward rock. A good launching pad for the first first-set Ghost of 2003! The crowd was locked in at this point, and you could hear it through the AUD. The jam itself is gritty and gnarled. It trudged through some quintessential 2003 twilight and climbed ever so slowly up the scales, though never actually reaching what we could call a "peak." Space rubbed rough with sandpaper, this Ghost eventually gives way to an unprecedented What's The Use? The first version since the reunion NYE run, this version starts off with promise but never connects. It sounds as though Trey is about a 1/2 step behind everyone else - which is unfortunately amplified by tightness (both literally and bro-i-ly speaking) of today's WTUs. You listen to, say, Magnaball's or Gorge '16... then this one, and you're kinda like, ehhhhhh ::shrug:: AC/DC Bag pops right into the next slot and hits the ground running. Fraught with energy from the opening notes and lyrics, the band was pumped and the crowd was re-energized! This version really smokes at first, building to what seems like a frenzied but connected peak. Unfortunately they kind of fall apart at the very last second and warp into some weird dissonance that eventually drops right into First Tube. Much like Bag, First Tube was perfectly placed and kicked everyone's ass right from the get go - so let's just forget about that last minute of AC/DC Bag - because Phish is locked back in again. A raging, if not standard, First Tube thorough impresses and winds down, a solid mid-first set version that, due to set placement alone, is worth a listen. I would love a mid-first set First Tube today! Frankie Says slithers into the set and I can;t say a bad word about it. A truncated version for sure, this version is still well-placed and well-played. And personally, as a huge fan of this song, I do not think a bad version exists. Please put it back into the rotation, Phish! A pretty good Bathtub Gin follows Frankie. And really, that is all that it is. Not bad, not great... just standard good. HOWEVER, there is a totally clean, unexpected -> Free which was off the charts. No one saw this coming, and judging by the crowd's reaction, this segue blew the roof off the place! A real fierce, rocking Free closed out the set. Nothing too outstanding here, and I'd venture a guess the band didn't practice too much between IT and this show, but still, a good, solid set 1 to kick off their 20th anniversary run.

Set 2 flows into the PA with a delicate, long-intro Waves. A love the long intro to Waves, a la the studio version. This mini jam is quite nice and I love how it sets up the song proper. The Waves jam itself is a little meandering. It hints at some peaks; it also hints at trying to dive deep; but it really never finds an identity. Nonetheless, Waves is one of those songs that no matter how good it is, it is always good. It eventually evaporates into a Sample in a Jar, and quite honestly, I love the combo and the placement. A great way to spark some energy after a rather normal Waves. Sample rocked and set up a spunky Down with Disease. Standard face-melt right out of the refrain stumbled into some groove-finding. It took a couple minutes for Phish to decide on the direction they wanted to go - it sounded like each band member was trying to guide the jam in a different direction (as I eluded to earlier, sounds like they didn't practice) but eventually they settle into a great, groovy pocket. Fishman steals the show in this bouncy, peppy jam that eventually riffs into some funky start/stop action. Thank god the WOOs didn't exist back then! A snazzy little start/stop segment relents to an almost comical ending. A fantastic jam, all things considered! Walls of the Cave was to DWD as Sample was to Waves ... just like, x100. This Walls was smoldering and *perfect* partner to that DWD. The set is batting 1.000 so far and it seems as though Phish has shaken off the rust. Then we have the oddball, energy-sucking pairing of Two Versions of Me and Crowd Control. Trey addresses the crowd with gratitude for playing new stuff before Crowd Control, but even with the sentiment, if just didn't fit (and I like the song Crowd Control). Regardless of my preferences, they decided to pair Two Versions of Me and Crowd Control and the set lost momentum. Not a moment too soon though, Trey remarks that they're gonna play an old song and Mike's Song rampages ahead! A thunderous version, we are right back on track! Nothing too jam-chart-y in this one, just standard fire. We get a well-played Hydrogen to link together a traditional old-school Mike's Groove. And although this Weekapaug is a little sloppy, the set as a whole was very energized (minus that two song WTF? in the middle) was very strong and it sounded like a blast to be at! Crimes of the Mind, with the Dude of Life being introduced (and singing) was a really fun, really nostalgic, really good encore. I was smiling just listening to it on my own.

All and all, not a bad start to the run... but definitely left *something* to be desired. Good thing we have three more nights!

Must-hear jams: Down with Disease
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Ghost, Waves


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