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Link Monday, 02/24/2003
Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, NJ

Set 1: DwDDown with Disease, Corinna, Wolfman'sWolfman's Brother > LxLLimb By Limb, Everyday I Have the Blues[1], The Thrill is Gone[1], Rock Me Baby[1]

Set 2: Halley'sHalley's Comet > HoodHarry Hood > Heavy Things, Twist, All of These Dreams, Waves > SampleSample in a Jar > CDTChalk Dust Torture

Encore: Farmhouse

[1] Phish debut; B.B. King.

Noteworthy Jams: Halley's Comet, Twist

Average Song Gap: 8.77

Performers: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon, B.B. King (Guest)

Notes: The last three songs of the first set were Phish concert debuts that featured a guest appearance by B.B. King.

Links:
LivePhish Download LivePhish Download

Song Distribution:
3 Farmhouse
3 Hoist
2 Round Room
2 Stash
1 The Story of the Ghost
1 A Picture of Nectar

Songs by Debut Year:

walstib , attached to 2003-02-24 Permalink
walstib Clearly the part of this show that will be remembered is BB. There are two thoughts on how that went and I think for the most part both are correct based on who you are.

The hour King played was not the type of music (straight blues) most of the younger fans had interest in or excepted when they bought tickets so I guess I get it that some didn't really enjoy that part of the show (the kids around me started comlpaining to one another about 20 minutes into the BB appearance). Being a little older and straight blues being what lights my soul on fire, I was beside myself. Blues is what made me pick up the guitar in the first place.

From a guitar players standpoint it's my opionon BB's blues vocabulary is second to none and this night was no exception. He says more with less notes then anyone in the game. Again, younger people who just wanted to see smoke come off Trey's guitar in typical Trey fashion may never understand how impressive BB's playing is or was that night.

What I remember most was watching Trey's face and body language. I got the feeling Trey was so selective with his notes, as if he needed to show BB that he too can speak the blues. Trey looked and played like he had been preparing for this moment his whole life and wanted to impress BB the way a boy might want to impress his father. I might actually say he seemed nervous.

There have been many shows for me since and hopefully will be many more in the future and most of those will be standard good night/bad night Phish shows. This was a one time thing and I thank God that it happened in front of me.

Without BB this was another night in life of Phish. A good time with some great moments but the show wasn't going to be blogged about for a decade after as epic. So in the end, the only reason this show gets noticed is that one hour of straight blues.
Score: 6
, attached to 2003-02-24 Permalink
(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

The process of waiting on line and getting into this show, then getting frisked has never been more disorganized and simply pathetic than on this night. I think anyone who was there would agree, it was a disaster. We decided to head in at 6:45 p.m. and the entrances had huge lines of fans across the entire parking lot. We didn't get in until almost 8:00 p.m.! It felt like I was sitting in my car on Snake Road on the way to Big Cypress.
When BB King emerged, I, and I think a lot of other people, were pretty much in shock that it was really him. Talk about a '”special” guest. The man is a legend. The first tune contained a few rough spots. Trey and BB were sorta feeling each other out a little bit. The “Thrill is Gone” was pretty special. Trey and BB got into some nice dueling blues licks, then BB would pump up the crowd. All in all I feel fairly privileged to have been there to see this. Trey and BB exchanged hugs at the end of the set, which lasted nearly ninety minutes. Very good set and a good feeling.
Set II began with “Haley's Comet”, which was very sweet. It was the first one played post-Hiatus. There was not a lot of soloing by Trey but he found some nice grooves and you could really hear the band playing together so well. It pretty much went right into “Harry Hood”. The band is definitely taking this song to new and interesting places. It seems like they build up the jam at the end but now they sorta bring it back down before bringing the jam all the way back again into a frenzy. This was another spot where the band could have come with another fast and upbeat song and blown the roof off. But “Heavy Things” came next. The jam at the end of this song was definitely turned up a notch compared to usual, which made it a little more enjoyable.
“Twist” came next, and they took it to a place I've never heard: a real spooky, noisy, funky jam. “Waves” is unquestionably my favorite song on Round Room but this version clinched it for sure. Regardless of its questionable placement in this set, the jam built so intensely with Trey rolling the notes off so perfectly. When “Sample” started I think everyone thought this long and interesting night was coming to a close, but out of the closing chords we heard the opening riff of “Chalk Dust”. The crowd went crazy, myself included. I was expecting something fairly slow for the encore and got “Farmhouse”. I will take this song over any Round Room ballads.
Even though the second set looks a little suspect on paper, the band was experimental, really on and really tight throughout every song they played the entire night. “DWD”, “Wolfman's Brother”, “Haley's Comet”, “Hood”, “Waves”, and “Chalk Dust” were all above average versions in my mind. And BB King was more than I could have hoped for. Truly a great time.
Score: 2
whatstheuse324 , attached to 2003-02-24 Permalink
whatstheuse324 2/24/2003 was my first show of 2.0 and first since Hershey Park in 2000. I was excited to see Phish together with my wife-to-be for the first time, as well as family and friends from all over Jersey. This was the first and most likely the last time that Phish performed at Continental Airlines Arena. I have known this place well from seeing the New Jersey Devils play hockey at least forty times here. This is also the venue that I saw my first two concerts as an eight year old back in 1988, The Moody Blues and INXS with Ziggy Marley opening.

I predicted a Cars, Trucks, Buses opener since this place is right on the NJ Turnpike and the song was named after the sign from the very highway. Instead we were met with the distorted bass rumblings signalling Down With Disease. Disease was high energy and was exactly what I needed to wrap my mind around the fact that I was actually at a Phish show again! The next song up was Corinna. I felt like a Corinna magnet, seeing the last three played since Big Cypress. Wolfman's Brother had an excellent peak in a straightforward type 1 jam. Limb By Limb kept the pace up with a pretty strong type 1 jam as well.

At the end of Limb By Limb I realized was was standing directly behind my friend TJ from my first real band in eighth grade. We said hello right as B.B. King was announced to the stage. We couldn't believe it!

I was very excited to see a living legend such as B.B. King, especially jamming with Phish. However, this would have been much better if it wasn't so long. I felt that Everyday I Have the Blues was fun but definitely did not go anywhere outside the box and could have ended five minutes before it does. I thought that might be it, but then they started up Thrill is Gone. It was cool to hear, especially since I consider this a signature B.B. King song. But again, it was not meshing very well and went on longer than it should have. When Rock Me Baby started, many of us felt like all of the energy from the first four songs was completely sucked out of the arena. This song had another aimless, straightforward blues progression before finally ending the set. I wish they would have played one more of their own songs to close the set on their terms, so to speak, but that was not so.

Halley's Comet opened the second set and brought hope to pump the show back up. From the jam out of Halley's emerged the opening drums of Harry Hood. This show seemed like it was really rounding the bend and getting back on track. However, this is not a particularly strong Hood. The outro jam seemed to lack any real enthusiasm and felt flat. Looking down on the stage from the side of Page, I felt like Trey seemed dazed and was trying to keep it together. Heavy Things was only ok. Twist was slow and murky. All of These Dreams certainly did not raise the energy level. It was nice to hear my first Waves, I really liked that song from Round Room. Sample brought the show's spirits back up and Chalkdust made the set respectable. The Farmhouse encore was nice but didn't make up for the extreme lack of energy from this show.

Overall, I was disappointed after the show, considering it was my first one back. Wolfman's Brother was the best song of the night, coming all the way back in the early first set. It was cool to see the novelty of B.B. King, but the sum of it didn't work for me. The second set was flat, murky, and lacking any real inspiration. However, Phish completely made up for the lack of energy from this show the next night at the old Spectrum in Philadelphia.
Score: 2
pikepredator , attached to 2003-02-24 Permalink
pikepredator I figured I would review this after fluffing the Twist in the forum. This show has a somewhat "backwards" structure in that the 1st and 3rd quarters are very strong, but then both sets go downhill. The opening four tunes were a fantastic start to my first post-hiatus show, all well-played, lots of energy. I was sure BB would be done after Everyday - had phish gone back to being phish and even played a modest ending to Set I, I think both the show and guest spot would have been more well-received.

but thrill is gone and rock me went on way, way too long. Aimless. I love me some blues - SRV would make an ideal guest if he wasn't, you know, dead - but the BB thing was overkill. It reminded me of the mini-acoustic sets. Great for a mid-set change of pace and then (like 12/28/98 and the Ball) they need to bust out something juicy to bring things back up.

Same deal in set II with an inspired start. 15 min Halleys>Hood to open? Yes please!! Then, the Twist gets really dark, counterpoint to the joyous disease. And at the time, we didn't know this kind of jamming would be the 2003 hallmark so it was exciting to hear new sounds, so different from 2000. Phish is back and going new places!!

All of these Dreams and Waves were a good bridge to a potentially smoking ending (maybe an exclamation point like Timber>Bowie?) but sample/chalkdust/farmhouse wasn't enough to seal the deal.

Get the big jams, give BB a listen, but pass on the rest.
Score: 2
, attached to 2003-02-24 Permalink
(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

Ah"...the Continental Airlines Arena in beautiful northeastern New Jersey, formerly known as the Brendan Byrne Arena and home to numerous excellent Dead shows in the 80's (with tapes often labeled as merely "Meadowlands"¯). I wonder if those Deadheads had as difficult a time getting into the venue as we did. This was the first time Phish played Continental, and the only way to access the arena via the parking lot was through a tiny space in a chain link fence, causing unbelievably long lines and thus delays. Logic would have seemed to dictate creating more openings, or using more (or less surly) security staff, but logic is seldom in abundance at the huge hockey arenas Phish rocks on the East Coast.
As it turned out, February 24th ended up being one of the more controversial shows of the winter tour because this was where B.B. King sat in with the band for the last three songs of the first set (all B.B tunes), a sequence totaling nearly an hour. I say "controversial"¯ because this resulted in opinions ranging from "best guest spot ever,"¯ to the more common, "the dullest hour of Phish I've ever seen"...B.B. didn't seem to know where he was."¯ Not having seen Phish since September of 2000, I would cast my vote in the latter camp.
After opening the set with a raging "Disease"¯ and fine versions of "Wolfman's"¯ and "Limb by Limb"¯, the addition of B.B. King brought the house energy down to a frighteningly low level. While the old school meets new school pairing of Phish and King sure seems cool on paper, the actual result was a dreary hour of tentative blues licks that was probably far more suited to a smoky nightclub than a packed arena. Things bordered on embarrassing at times; Trey and B.B. often seemed to be stepping on each other's toes, while not wanting to outdo the other, and neither Phish nor King could seem to decide when it was time for the latter to leave. So while King remains a living legend, and the effort was appreciated, the Hiatus left the packed arena hungry for some raging Phish, and judging from the amount of fans in their seats, this wasn't it.
Fortunately, Set II was relatively solid from top to bottom, featuring a bevy of setlist staples that were goosed with some extra juice, the "Halley's"¯ > "Hood"¯ combo in particular. "Waves"¯ will eventually morph into the Set II standout that its capable of becoming, and the "Farmhouse"¯ encore, played in its original key of D, was a pleasant sendoff.
But ultimately, 2/24 was more of a historical curiosity than a good Phish gig. However, if this show led anyone to believe that post-Hiatus version of Phish painted a portrait of a band slowly losing its edge, the next three shows of the winter run wasted no time in putting such thoughts to rest.
Score: 1
TwiceBitten , attached to 2003-02-24 Permalink
TwiceBitten This was a pretty weird show to be my first. B.B. King part was pretty darned boring and neither set had a particularly good flow. That being said, I'm glad to have been at any shows at all.
Score: 1
OswegoDevo , attached to 2003-02-24 Permalink
Welcome to beautiful wastelands of East Rutherford NJ!! Tripping hard on purple oregon mushrooms (Thanks Dar for getting those from Layla!), led me to believe for the longest time while outside the lot that I was actually stuck in the "Dolldrums" from the Phantom Tollboth, the creatures from the muck were tearing at my legs, trying to pull me into the deep, and I was simply terrified! Once me and my girlfriend of the time (this was our first show together, we use this show to measure how long we were together, which ended around 6 years later) got into the arena, the first thing I could hear was the opening hook of the Down with Disease jam that just sent the crowd in the arena into an absolute FRENZY!! The energy level toppled off the charts at this point, fueled by Trey's screaming licks which moistened the panties of both girls and guys alike! For whatever reason, that particular hook at that particular moment, really stays with me always...I still get goosebumps when I listen to recordings of it years later.

Now, after attempting to ingest a lit cigarette, and climbing off the balcony (purple mushrooms are evil/awesome!) I made my way to the bathroom where a guy was talking about BB King, and he kept trying to tell me BB King was actually playing with Phish. I didn't believe him. I thought he was trying to mess with an obviously tripping kid..than I heard BB King playing, and I thought that the power of this guys persuasion, coupled with psychotropic compounds, had actually made my mind believe that BB King was playing, and my mind was playing BB King......I looked over, and the guy on the urinal on my left looked right at me, and had a priceless look on his face, his pupils were as wide as the night sky, I felt like I could just fall into them..He than asked me "Dude, am I tripping? Or is BB King playing right now...? Still not conviced, I headed back to me seat to find that yes, in fact BB actually was playing with Phish on stage.....that whole debacle in the bathroom was probably more exciting than actually hearing BB King play. Now we must give him respect, he is absolutely a legend. "The Thrill is Gone" was great. But honsetly, we all didn't travel from points all over the world to here standard issue, dynamicless blues....We wanted Phish!

Set 2 was Fantastic! It had been a long time since my last Halley's Comet, which was very special. Harry Hood was great < Sample/Chalkdust were SICK!! But than, as sometimes they do, they decided to drop the LAMEST encore ever, Farmhouse. hahah, I wasn't mad, I just found myself laughing my ass off on the trip back to the car.....Good show overall, very easy to pinpoint because of the presence of BB King....oh and just for the records, East Rutherford NJ might be the grimiest place on earth.
Score: 0

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