Bringing my girlfriend to her first Phish show ever was enough to make this night really cool. The fact that Phish had never played the Meadows got the crowd riled up and made the evening special. And the two incredible shows in Holmdel suggested that the quality of this show would be top-notch. That being said, this show would've been good even if it wasn't.
Two years to the day after my last Ha Ha Ha (in Copenhagen), Phish cracked out this little number. I sensed an ominous feel, as though they were saying, "Ha Ha Ha! You have NO IDEA what's in store for you these next two nights!" This got my mind wandering...."What if this WERE the show where Forbin's reappeared?"...."It's been a long time since the last Harpua..."..."Boy this venue kinda sits on a large Mound"...Ha Ha Ha definitely got everyone psyched, after all, it's pure energy.
AC/DC Bag....a freakin sweet version to boot. It was pretty standard until this crazy Trey section where he played some real melodic stuff. It seemed the night would be huge.
Tweezer is usually not my favorite song, but this version ranks pretty high up there. There was a chill jam in the center I was real locked into. Just as I was reaching that place, my girlfriend turned to me and said, "Hey, this is pretty awesome!" She had latched onto the dark bass groove and the nice, light treblish solo Trey was layering. It was impressive to say the least.
Jim picked up right where Tweezer faded and restored the high levels of energy that had subsided during the Tweezer jam. When Jim slowed to Mike's bass section, I very distinctly heard Trey teasing the opening riff of Nellie Kane. I called it right there. At the time, I didn't know that the tease was hinting to the conclusion of the two-night stand or to the plethora of bluegrass that would ensue the following evening. But this rockin' Jim stopped short and there was a pause.
My words at the time, during the one minute plus break in between songs were, "Look, if it takes this long to make up their minds, they'd better be playing Fluffhead or something, 'cause why would it take this long to decide to play Sample or something? Well, Sneakin Sally would suffice! This was a screamin' funk-filled version. The crowd was bopping right along to the beat and Ginseng Sullivan reared his ugly head.
I love Ginseng, and it was what I then thought I might have heard during Jim. This was a clean and precise Ginseng and when it wrapped, they swung during into...
Guyute. Let me tell you, some jerk behind me was yelling, "Yo dude! Did I call it or what? Sa-weeet! Guyute! I f*ing called that sh*t!" All the while I was thinking, "Yeah, they've played this song every third show for the last two years dude. Relax." But I must admit: this was a very well executed Guyute. Trey was right on with the hammer-ons and hammer-offs and Fish was nailing it all the way.
The third "G" song in a row was Golgi, which I was 100% positive would wrap the set. It was nice to hear Golgi again, and as it wound down I reflected on an excellent first set.
Out came the reprise, and I wondered when that had happened last. I mean, to cap off Tweezer in set one of night one suggests monster things are to come. A nice reprise that was actually extended a few measures was most definitely the end of the set...
Possum!? Come on, I can't believe we got another song at all, let alone Possum. The first set left me salivating!
Halley's started the second set off on a good foot. It's a great song, and the jam was tight. Suddenly, out came
The Mango Song! Maybe the highlight of the night for me, this was an extended Mango that fulfilled my desire for something fun. It was well played, showed the skill and diversity Phish possess, and made me smile. That segued smoothly into Twist, and Twist took off. It almost totally left the main Twist riffs and then came back around, a la many Split Open and Melt jams.
Minestrone was next up. A sweet song that chilled us all out, I think it should be placed in the "light rotation." I fear that too much of this will eventually ruin its intimate nature.
Back on the Train is not my favorite song, so this one did little for me. But it slid ever so gently into:
Makisupa Policeman. So nice to hear the simple reggae vibes of Makisupa. Lots of fun. I feel like this has shown up a couple of times recently. Come to think of it, so has Mango. Would any one complain if they, along with MSO and It's Ice returned to the regular rotation? Yeah, I thought not.
Farmhouse was Farmhouse. Clean and nice.
Sleeping Monkey was a nice surprise. Sure didn't expect it! As nice as it was, it was too slow to follow two fairly slow songs.
That why Bowie worked well. A textbook Bowie that didn't travel too far from the original's boundaries was a nice cap to a nice set whose highlights really laid with the first three songs.
Cavern, which I've now seen in concert 167,432 times, was --at first-- a turn off. But this version, which I've heard referred to as "Tweevern," was really something else. All the little reprise riffs weaved in made this version a little special.
Overall, a great show not worthy of "legend-hood," but ranks right up there in the "Dude, that was AWESOME!" range.