My story for this show actually starts two days earlier, on NYE. As with most people, it seemed my friend and I were shut out of the NYE show at the Garden. Not to miss out on seeing a show to ring in the New Year, we decided to check out Govt. Mule at the Beacon Theatre, which by the way was a great show (for proof check out the blistering 2nd set, with Vernon Reid on guitar, in which they blazed through Miles Davis' “Freddy the Freeloader”, but that is another story for another time.)
On the ferry ride into Manhattan, my friend’s phone rings, and it was someone wishing us a happy New Years and, by the way, she may know someone who has two tickets to the first night in Hampton that they me need to get rid of... but they are not sure yet. Every free moment at the Govt. Mule show we spend calling our friend to see what the status of those two tickets is. She is still unsure, she tells us.
The next day we wake to the phone ringing. The guy with the extra tickets still hasn't made up his mind if he is going to be able to make it down to the show. I had to leave to head back home to Baltimore to meet up with some friends. My last words to my friend are to do what it takes to get those tickets.
A couple of hours later, while sitting in traffic on the Jersey turnpike, I get a call from my friend. He is on his way to Connecticut to get our tickets. The guy decided he was not going to go, and if my friend made it up to Connecticut that night we could have the tickets. Right before midnight my phone rings again. "One man gathers what another man spills" is all I hear from the other end. Two free tickets to the first night at the "Mothership". My friend leaves from Connecticut early the day of the show and drives down to Baltimore to pick me up and head on down to Hampton.
Less than forty eight hours ago we had nothing and now we are heading down to the first night of the Hampton run. Having never been there, I was bouncing off the walls the entire car ride.
The first time seeing the lights is an experience not soon forgotten, and one truly can see how Hampton Coliseum obtained the nickname "The Mothership". With its colored lights that surround the outside of the building lighting up the night sky, it sends its beams of light skyward, like a twisted "Bat Signal" for Phish fans.
The lot scene was pretty good despite the freezing temperatures. Everyone seemed to be in a very festive mood. I am sure the holiday season and the boys being back at Hampton had much to do with it. While cruising around I saw Mike chatting up some fans, and Fish was later seen checking out the lobby scene inside the venue.
A strong "Bathtub Gin" got things started off, and we do love to take a bath. While this was not the strongest show that Phish has ever played, is still always great to see the boys live. It bothers me when people want to deconstruct every show, setlist, and song to the point where they feel that there is never ever a good show. It always seems to some that it was better when...
Just as with everything in life, there are highs and lows. Sometimes Phish has a night of highs, sometimes they have a night of lows, and sometimes they have a night of both, but I keep in mind that a night of Phish lows is still better than any other band out there. To me there is no such thing as a bad Phish show, there are shows that are not as good as others, but their bad moments can still be pretty intense.
This night at Hampton was a night of highs and lows. There were some flubbed verses, a mixed change or two, "Character Zero" repeated from NYE. There were also some highs as well: the "My Friend, My Friend" in the second set, Fish's dance during "It's Ice", "46 Days" (this has great potential), and the "Antelope", which definitely got up and ran out of control at times.
The best thing about the Hampton show was that The Boys Were Back, back onstage doing what they do best, and what we like most. They took some chances; some worked and some did some did not. It gave me a chance to see some old friends, meet some new ones, hear some great music, and provide 10,000 people with great way to spend an evening.