I actually thought this first set was well-above par. Stealing Time into Camel Walk was solid as was the Jibboo-Wilson-Seven Below. The SOAM was a treat. I cherish the Type II jams when they come these days, and this one deserves a listen. It is not a tight jam, more chaotic psychedelic noise that verges on being lost, but they hold it together...barely.
I am glad to see the balanced criticisms of the 2nd set. I couldnt have asked for better song selection, and I wont kill the set. But not counting the Tweezer->No Quarter which was amazing, the songs were all truncated. Remember those days when a Piper or Twist would drift off into ambiance....then Fish would start riding the hi-hat or Trey would repeat a chord progression and then another voice would join in and off we all went?
Well there were about 5 times in this show that allowed for that 'moment'. Each time the ambiance drifted into silence ending the song or as in Ghost the groove was killed mid-groove.
This is what we have all witnessed in 3.0 (except for about 4-6 nights of magic scattered throughout 3 years of touring, and you all know the shows Im alluding to). Great song selection, increasingly crisp playing, especially of composed songs, but a perceived unwillingness to take those leaps of faith into the unknown. I appreciate what we have. I love checking out the younger phans and experiencing new adventures with old friends. But that love and that appreciation goes hand in hand with lower expectations for the music. Trey and Co. can not be expected to play like they once did when they play 1/4 as many shows per year. The improvisational chops are just not there, the playfullness is not there. I dont expect 20 minute jams, and most of the time these days, I dont leave disappointed when we get our 7 minute Ghosts. I'll take it, but its so, so different from what the entire crowd expected the minute that bass line hit in other eras of Phish. And so it goes. Love them for taking the stage, take it all with a grain of salt.