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Link Tuesday, 02/25/2003
First Union Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA

Set 1: Julius, Talk, 46 Days, Taste, Frankie Says, SlaveSlave to the Traffic Light, Water in the Sky, WotCWalls of the Cave

Set 2: BagAC/DC Bag, Cities, ThemeTheme From the Bottom[1] > Runaway Jim > Thunderhead > Sparkle, Pebbles and Marbles

Encore: CoilThe Squirming Coil > Character Zero

[1] Unfinished.

Noteworthy Jams: Taste (highly recommended), Slave to the Traffic Light, Walls of the Cave, Theme From the Bottom (highly recommended)

Average Song Gap: 18.82

Performers: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon

Notes: Talk was played for the first time since August 6, 1998 (167 shows). Theme was unfinished.

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Song Distribution:
4 Round Room
4 Billy Breathes
2 The Story of the Ghost
2 The White Tape
1 Hoist
1 Rift
1 Lawn Boy
1 The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday

Songs by Debut Year:

waxbanks , attached to 2003-02-25 Permalink
waxbanks I just want to put in a word for the tremendous Theme > Jim, authoritative Taste, and swamp-nasty Walls of the Cave. The Bag is long but never quite lifts off and 46 Days hadn't yet transformed at this point into the monster it would occasionally become (cf. IT and Summer/Fall '09). Not as consistently engaging as the shows around it but not without a few highlights.
Score: 4
, attached to 2003-02-25 Permalink
(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

Our night began as one of the coldest nights of the winter set in. Stepping out of my car in the lot of the First Union Spectrum in Philly, I immediately hopped back in to scrounge for another layer of clothing; the bite of the wind instilled a feeling of arctic frost throughout my body. After strapping on another layer of clothing, I threw my gloves on and toured the lot with a feeling of utmost excitement after realizing that in just a couple of hours we would be hosed off with some kicking rock and roll after a laid back night with BB King in East Rutherford the night before. Born and raised near Philly, I have grown to respect and praise my hometown and the many, many fans from here. In regards to sports and concerts, Philly fans "love ya when you're up, and hate ya when you're down". No matter the situation, though, Philly fans will bring enough energy to fuel an epic show; as always, this night brought warm vibes through the bitter cold, at all costs.
It had been over two and a half years since Philly (area) had seen the boys, and everyone felt the heat of the excitement upon entrance to the arena. This show proved very special for me as I had traveled with a friend familiar with Phish, but not familiar with the reasons for hysteria during/outside a show. I continued to try to explain the way this band flows together more than most bands around, and that the intensity of the tension/release would have him bouncing off the walls; to just get ready to dance. Maybe because it's my hometown, but every show I catch in Philly seethes with explosive energy from the crowd, and then the lights turned off......
The scratch of Trey's voice through the atypical song choice of “Talk” helped me grasp the idea that our favorite band really was back and here to blow our minds as always. The “46 Days” that followed really began opening the doors for my friend dancing next to me, as stellar riffs from Trey laid atop a wicked bassline from Mike. Many songs off the album Round Room (i.e. “Waves”, “WOTC”, “46 Days”, “Pebbles and Marbles”) really spotlight the band’s ability to rock the house like a full blown army. “Slave to the Traffic Light” (after “Frankie Says”) obviously hit the spot for 20,000 people, as the place exploded from the opening all the way through Page's solos and to the end.
At setbreak, my friend had been hit by some beam of consciousness, as the first set brought him to true understanding of the frenzy that follows these four (five counting Kuroda) amazing artists. Through the funk of '97 and the wailing cries of '99, we now have a band set for the heart of the sun, kicking its way through the new millennium with no holds barred and just the fans and music in mind.
The two song encore that closed the night sealed a perfect evening just right, as fans filtered out of the arena with a feeling of refreshment and inspiration. The two years without Phish proved lonesome, but in the end, we now see that in order for inspiration to guide us in the future, we must respect and understand the times of now. Phish teaches lessons of life through their music, words, and even actions. You win some, you lose some, but in the end we're all in this together, and we love to take a bath!
Score: 3
whatstheuse324 , attached to 2003-02-25 Permalink
whatstheuse324 By reading some of the other posts, it seems to me that 2/25/2003 is regarded in a completely underrated way. I thought this show was great, and it still holds up to me on a second listen. Having attended the East Rutherford show the night before and feeling underwhelmed, I was ready for something more from my favorite band.

The lights went down and Phish kicked it off right away with a great Julius. It was energetic, built to a nice peak, and immediately warmed up the cold Spectrum. When they started playing Talk, I felt like Trey was making a statement about all the smack being talked from the night before' like, "Hey, mea culpa." This was indeed a different show, and I was very excited to hear 46 Days start up. I liked the short version they played on Saturday Night Live before the MSG-Hampton run and I was ready to hear them take it out. It did not leave the box but delivered a solid guitar driven jam to make the night officially open for business. Taste started out from 46 Days and kept the momentum going. Kuroda was killing it on the lights during Taste and Trey peaked the song out with the What's the Use? theme, reminiscent of the 12/29/1997 Taste from MSG.

I was standing with one of my best friends Achal when Frankie Says crept out from the stage. I wasn't expecting to hear this and I was so excited for it. The song brought my mind back to the glory days, riding in my buddy's car around New Brunswick, chillin' like villains. Slave to the Traffic Light was well executed and the perfect song to come after Frankie Says. Water in the Sky was quick and clean. I was really excited to hear Page lay down the keys for the opening of Walls of the Cave. Fishman took the spotlight rocking the woodblocks and the band came together on a really powerful jam to close the first set. It built for a long time, slowed down around the third quarter mark of the jam, and built back up around the outro theme before concluding. The first set was definitely solid and I felt that this show was already better than what East Rutherford had to offer.

The concourse of the Spectrum was tight and crazy, I miraculously survived a departure trip to the bathroom and a successful return trip with two beers in hand for my wife-to-be Stephanie and I. AC/DC Bag brought everyone right back into the zone, and although it wasn't particularly crazy, it still delivered a lead off hit to start the set. Cities came right away from the end of AC/DC Bag and kept the good times rolling.

Theme From the Bottom was exceptionally good. Phish was definitely in the pocket tonight. At one point in the jam Trey went off on a tangent, and instead of coming back to the others, he made them come to him, built a lot of tension up, and came swooshing back to the power D, blasting the Spectrum with divine sound waves of awesomeness. Theme made an excellent transition into Runaway Jim. I was cheers-ing beers with the rows in front of me and behind me, it was definitely a party.

Thunderhead is what it is. It's a nice song to listen to when you stare out of your back window on a rainy day, but it brought the crowd down a little while the band caught a breather. Sparkle attempted to rescue the mood. Pebbles and Marbles was well received and it closed the second set. It was strong, especially for an early version, and clocked in at over sixteen minutes. I was very happy to see most of my favorite tracks from Round Room at this show in addition to some really strong versions of oldies, including Julius, Taste, and Theme.

Coil was a great encore. As Page was tickling the keys at the end of the song, the band did not leave the stage. Trey was hovering over Page like a hungry dog next to the kids table. We knew something else was coming and the band delivered a strong Character Zer0 to close the show. Trey got his last licks and wailed on the E scale for an extra ten minutes. I was definitely happy and satisfied when I left the Spectrum.

Before our crew headed back to Steph's apartment for the night on City Line, we hit up Lorenzo's Pizza on South Street and had some delicious giant slices to cap off a wonderful Phish experience.
Score: 3
MDosque , attached to 2003-02-25 Permalink
MDosque I was really surprised to see that this show is consistently ripped by phans. It was so damn cold that night and the Philly lot scene was downright horrifying, but still, the toasty crowd had good energy. I was in one of the front rows of the upper deck a little off to Trey side and was feeling good. It's true, though, they probably came back too soon from the hiatus as evidenced by the decision in 2004 to hang it up again for 5 years. Despite how everyone wanted it, something just didn't feel right that winter. The summer would show flashes, but it all seemed a little bit forced at that point. It was partially my spoiled outlook, having seen some classics in the late 90's and not completely embracing the Round Room stuff. Looking back, WOTC and Pebbles are really great songs and I hope to hear them again live, but I regrettably had an attitude that wanted a setlist straight out of the mid-90's (probably because I can never get the memories of my first Spectrum show, 12/29/96, out of my head and always want that). That was my hangup then and it's a shame, because having embraced the fact that things must simply be different has really led to some extra, enjoyable Phish experiences in the 3.0 era (11/24/09, 6/27/10, and 6/12/11), all excellent shows, that an immature Me might have not been in the right frame of mind for in 2003.

Set 1:
Julius was the perfect opener for the old Spectrum and after a nice little random Talk, 46 Days rocked, while the I remember the Taste being pretty great. When they come back around to the song from the jam with the ascending Page tinkles, this was a nice Phish moment for me. The set kind of gets a little weak from there. Good tunes, but not energetic at all.

Set Break: When reviewing an old Spectrum show, I must always mention...the

Set 2:
The run of tunes to open the second set showed promise and were played very well. The Bag was particularly feisty and the jam coming out of Theme landed well into Jim. The problem with some of the versions of Jim during the 2000's was that it allowed Trey and the band to really just zone and lose control of the jams. That sounds particularly picky and considering the fact that no one on earth can perform like them, that statement seems even disrespectful. My opinion is that for such a high standard these guys deserve, some of the long spacey jams were lost in that era. This Jim became lost, and by the time Trey played Thunderhead, perhaps the most awful Phish tune in the discography, I was disengaged. Sparkle and Pebbles seemed silly, considering I had gone into the show with the pie in the sky notion I might hear a Lizards, Bowie, YEM, or even a Gumbo. Big let down from Jim on. The encore tried, and I love Coil, but Zero was starting to annoy me by then (wow, would we all really get sick of it soon enough!--even though the latest MPP version I saw live actually rocked really hard and made sense to close out that smoking first set)

This is not Phish at their finest. Still, Phish putting out a show that gets a 4 out of 10 is a great time. So damn cold that night and really scary after-show lot scene. We would miss them, but it was clear that the hiatus ended too soon. Looking back, I can say that, but at the time, we didn't know it.
Score: 2
, attached to 2003-02-25 Permalink
(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

This show was my second post-Hiatus show, after I had the pleasure of attending Phish's rousing NYE show at Madison Square Garden, but encountered trouble finding tickets to the Hampton run. With much anticipation, me and my fellow close friend from grad school, "Fluff," made the seven hour trek to Philly from Potsdam NY for this show, and had to make the seven hour haul back immediately afterwards.
The scene in Philly is one of my favorites. There are three constants that one can always expect out of a Philly show: cold temperatures, a festive Shakedown, and the sounds of balloons popping all over. This night would prove no different. After thoroughly enjoying myself outside, I walked into the Spectrum and took my seat.
The Spectrum has a very intimate feel to it, something many new age arenas fail to have. With the shiny and new First Union Center just yards away, it was nice to see Phish returning to the old room to rock it out yet again.
I really appreciated this "Jim" — for the one I heard on NYE was interrupted by hugs and champagne as I rang in the new year at MSG.
Score: 1

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