Cities is next, definitely a crowd pleaser and this jam was well-received. It doesn't really floor me. It sounds like a nice loose groove, but not “out there” by any means. Nevertheless, it is the best jamming up to this point. After a good, concise Moma Dance, Bathtub Gin appears. I like the playing here quite a lot and believe that what we saw in Cities continues here about 7 minutes in (everyone is playing real well and obvious listening to each other, embellishing each other's musical ideas). This is good. Just as I'm really digging it though, it's over. Still, that was cool, somewhat subdued, but still very interesting.
“Stealing Time” is a great way to end the set. They always play this with gusto. It's full of searing lead guitar and an overpowering bass/drum attack. It was a good high energy set closer to a decent set.
I'm a fan of the second set. I know it has a botched segue from Ghost to Mike's, but this set is full-force from the first note to the last. “Rock & Roll” soars. Page's voice is in fine form and the band is powerful and in-the-moment. About 6 minutes in we are full throttle jamming on the central theme of the song. I am enjoying this a lot.
Ten minutes passes effortlessly and we are in Ghost. This Ghost is a pretty thing, very small and delicate – not a Godzilla version, it's a charming Ghost. 6 minutes in and this is really sounding nice. Mike's bass is playing a beautiful counter-melody and Page is all over it too. Fishman's drums are driving the band forward. Right now, I'm listening to the best music of the night – no question about it. I wish they could just keep playing this Ghost, but around 10 minutes in it's changing – sounds like they want to move on (too bad!) and then Trey plays the riff of Mike's over the groove (it doesn't sound very good really – wrong key? - but better on the audience tape than on the LP ones). Rough...
We survived though and we could definitely be in a worse place. Mike's always has potential and the night is promising. This Mike's is standard fare for 2010, by which I mean the band is careful to dot its “i”s and cross its “t”s. It is not jammed out, but it is jammed hard, but just over the typical Mike's chord progression. This is not a bad thing by any means. Up to this point, the set is smoking. “Simple” appears next and now I'm fired up. They struggle with the lyrics; however, by the time we get to the sweet quiet interplay (less than 5 minutes into the song), we are in a really nice place for the jam segment. Around 8 minutes in we are in a great transcendent jam – now we're talking! (or rather we are listening) – and it's just pouring out over everyone. It kind of gets techno as we approach 10 minutes. This is really, really good and once the drums ascend we are in a wonderful groove for the last 3 minutes or so.
It would be nice if this transitioned a little cleaner into “Backwards Down the Number Line”, but it just kind of runs out and BDTNL starts up a bit later. This song has also been a jam vehicle, but this one is staying pretty close to the theme. It's a very happy song and the soloing – especially Trey's – is wonderfully effervescent. It gets really quiet around 5 minutes with Mike and Fish out more in front... hmm, this could go somewhere too? Not too far though, because a moment later we are back and this could be off of the “Joy” CD as we return to the awesome refrain. When it stops the crowd rejoices – an hour into the set, pretty much non-stop hosing. Lucky people!
The band's next choice “Show of Life” is a new song from the first leg of the Summer Tour. This is the 4th time Phish has played it live and it doesn't sound tentative anymore. With its reflective lyrics and references to thanking you all, it has some possibility to be a rock anthem much like “Simple”. This version (like all the others until now) is played close.
Next up is the beautiful tune “7 Below” and just as the snowflakes start to fall, they pull off a magical transition into “Weekapaug”. This makes up for the Ghost Mike's before by a lot. The fact that we were also robbed of a long jammed out “7 Below” is sad, but there will be other times. And the “Weekapaug Groove” is groovy with wonderfully lyrical contributions by all the musicians. By no means does it stray much from the typical Weekapaug line, but that's no problem. It sounds great.
We are 74 minutes in when “You Enjoy Myself” starts up. Listening to the whistling and hooting of the crowd around 2 minutes in is very revealing. These people have been soaked and are still going to get more. I love the tone of Mike's bass before the lead up to the charge. Oh man, this is all good! YEM is being played a lot and that's a good thing. This YEM is not unusual (again, this is not a negative) until we get to the vocal jam, which is (though you could make the case that it is normal) really nuts. I especially like how it ends. Great stuff! The encore “Good Times, Bad Times” gives them another chance to play like the demons they are and they do not disappoint.
Overall, I found this show to be very strong. There was a nice appetizer in the first set and the second set delivered on the promise. Very encouraging!!!