U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati, OH
Set 1: Wilson > NICU, Wolfman'sWolfman's Brother, Ocelot, Torn and Frayed, Strange Design, GinsengGinseng Sullivan, Albuquerque, SOAMeltSplit Open and Melt, Dirt, LxLLimb By Limb, AntelopeRun Like an Antelope
Notes: Albuquerque was played for the first time since September 14, 2000 (115 shows).
This show was part of the "2009 Fall Tour."
Very strong first set featuring a tremendously weird, wooly SOAM; the second set opens with a superb R'n'R > Ghost > If I Could run that's the easy show highlight. Not quite the manic run of segues from the previous night, and if you're mulling this one over you should certainly go look up at least one other classic 11/21/9x show first, but the quality is still high, and it still feels like Big Things are right around the corner.
I should note that the 2001 is as *active* as all this year's versions have been - and as short. I'm a fan of the 1997-99 take on this song, when it was just an excuse for a manic 15-minute dance party. But the band has returned to a middle ground between their early-90's performances, which were strictly warmups, and their large-scale pre-hiatus disco-funk improvisations. It's alright, but I can't help missing the old shaggy intensity. (The most fun 2001 of the year is probably the sludgy performance with Billy K. at Red Rocks - as pleasantly messy as the rest of that frustrating set.)
So from my first to my last...
I was Woody Allen over going to the show, but it being a hometown gig and SO many friends asking my whereabouts, I ultimately felt driven. After so much hemming and hawing, it was all moot! They band delivered on several fronts and even with a snoozer of a second set (save for the RnR and Also Sprach), there was much to rejoice about.
A solid opening to get the feet wet, and lent an old-school (does that phrase even count anymore?) vibe to things from the start. The trio was short and to the point, with focus and semi-precision; things are tighter now than during the summer. Strange Design was very moving, and by Ginseng I was certain that the band (read: Trey) was once again approaching that loose-tight mode of playing that most jazz players talk about as the grail of performance. Ginseng was near perfect (miscue coming back in) with Trey shining on the nimble flatpicked parts. Not sure why, but the bluegrass tune made me smile wider than any other song of the night
Split Open and Melt. Readers will note the song's importance for me, and I was pins and needles to see where it would go. It did go WAY OUT, for sure, but (similiar to most of the big tunes from this summer) there was a wildness to the playing that really read as "um, we're sorta lost up here and i'm not sure who's gonna bring us back home." Sure enough, Mike and Fish's attempts to return to the signature meter were ignored/unheard (where's Paul when you need him? the sound these days is just loud and muddy as a whole) and things came back to earth with an awkward and syrupy swirl. STILL, it was great to hear them let go and take a chance, and the first several minutes were cohesive and menacing without losing the rhythmic power like every other version from the summer.
The Antelope was heads and tails the musical and energetic highlight of the night. It's worth the price of admission alone. Tight and zapped with a fiece determination to not only hit the climaxes but to hone in on that remarkable communciation that we know and love. So good and so powerful. It's easily the best I've heard from these guys since they've been back.
The second set was full of drawn out guitar-hero histrionics and poorly played ballads. But dig the end of Rock and Roll for an amuse-bouche of '97 style funk. And Also Sprach was whip-tight like a box of crackerjacks. B-boys rejoice!
Trey's nod to the sign-holders for an Axilla encore was touching and led to a head-banging session that still has my neck in shambles. Perfect ending.
start with this- been seeing them for some time
some years more than others-
i thought the show felt like a roller coaster- some of the points were hitting, and hitting hard- NICU> wolfmans was very good- and very HOT!
but then the slow points were well, slow- i realize that it cant all be the smoking stuff we wish every song could be, but the four song run(torn- albeq) in the 1st set was pretty mellow-
split picked it back up and antelope got the corwd ready for the second set
Rock and roll was great with the jam following living up to expectations-
ghost was a little experimental and you could finally feel the guys drifting from the 'safety net' a little- but the run of 'if i could- number line- caspian) brought the mothership back to the ground-
but just as we felt grounded- the suzy- 2001- coil put us back into the atmosphere....
sleeping monkey is fun, but not my first pick-
axilla was a nice nod to the signees, but i wish they had done the peaches en regalia- that the fellas next to the Axilla sign was holdin.
all in all i say it was a really good show- adn a few song choices from a great show.
but its something different to all who hear it
nothing better than having a show less than a mile from your house- not to meniton a second-
thanks for the Cincy stop guys!
My hopes were very high for a remarkably fun and involving show. The last time I was in Cincy was to see Phish, and I think U.S. Bank Arena has great acoustics and a wonderful vibe. My seats with my two buddies ended up being front row diagonally behind the stage. We got to watch the boys walk right by us, and both the view and sound were fantastic.
Wilson was a great way to start. It was an easy way to tell that the crowd was REALLY into it, with everyone chanting and getting down. The transition to NICU was so smooth, and Mike was just going off during the intro. Neither song went beyond normal territory, but it was such a fun, energetic way to start off the show.
The Wolfman's Brother was just TREMENDOUS... I'm not sure if the tapes will do it justice. This song made the whole trip worth it... the whole song was played so tight and with so much energy with a ridiculous peak at the end.
I really enjoy a lot of the newer songs off of Joy, and Ocelot is one of them. This song seemed a little slower than usual, but was beautifully played with a nice jam at the end. I figured we'd get a slower song next, but Phish continued impressing me with the Stone's cover Torn and Frayed, freshly minted from Festival 8. They killed it, and the crowd was digging it.
The next set of songs was definitely a breather for me and the only part of the show that was average. I like Strange Design, and I know Ginseng Sullivan and Albuquerque are rare songs, but they just didn't do it for me. All three were played nicely, but I took them as a time to sit down and catch my breath.
I haven't enjoyed any of the Split Open and Melt's they've played in 09 and this one was no different. While the opening composed section was awesome, I'm not a fan of their weird, spacey jams that seemingly have no direction, and this SOAM followed the same path as before. They did come together for a nice ending, but otherwise I just haven't been able to enjoy the song. My friends, however, loved it, and this is exactly why I love the band... their repertoire of songs and playing ability is so varied that people will always have different opinions on what they hear and enjoy.
I am a big fan of Dirt and so are my friends, so we were very pleased to hear this. Again, nothing groundbreaking, but nice to hear. The Limb that followed was so sweet... Trey and Page just tore up the jam and brought such a huge smile to my face. This song reminds me so much of hanging out with some of my closest friends during college, so I can't help being amazingly happy when I hear it in concert.
Since YEM and Slave had been played the night before and Fluffhead, Mike's, and Bowie were all out of the picture, the number 1 set closer I wanted to hear was Antelope, and I nearly lept out of my section onto the stage when I heard the opening notes. I'm not sure if this will hold up on tape, but seeing this song live is always so powerful. I thought they did an excellent job with all the sections... I just wish they would extend the part before "Rye, rye, rocco". Overall, I loved the first set and couldn't wait for the second.
For me, the best three songs they've played in 09 are Tweezer, Wolfman's Brother, and Rock and Roll. This RnR sent a huge cheer through the crowd and raged for a good 15 minutes before segueing beautifully into Ghost. This Ghost was funky, groovy, and eventually rocking as well and had our whole section dancing and getting down.
I couldn't have been happier with If I Could, my first in 26 shows and such a perfect way to slow the set down. My friend and I both love Backwards Down the Number Line but both wanted a much shorter, focused version of the song. As if reading our minds, we got a 6 min version of BDTNL that was so good and to the point before dropping into Caspian. I'll be the first to admit that I really like this song, but a lot of people around us used this as time to sit and catch a breather. I thought the jam was wonderful and the song was really nicely played.
Suzy sent the arena into an uproar and the singing during the chorus was so loud it was incredible. The placement of this song was perfect and had me on the edge of my seat for what they would play next...
2001 is the BEST INDOOR SONG (IMHO) that Phish plays, and if I didn't think the crowd could get any louder after Suzy they did at the start of this song. While not that long, they nailed this so well and the lights accompanying the song were out of control.
Finally, Squirming Coil ended the set with a nearly flawless compositional part and a much longer, extended, beautiful outro solo by Page.
The Sleeping Monkey, Axilla encore was just icing on the cake. Here are a few things I noticed:
- Mike sounded so much clearer indoors as opposed to seeing him outdoors
- Fishman was much fuller on the drums and isn't just providing background drumming... he was leading some jams and really adding to focus and peaks much more than earlier in the summer
- Page is just killing it, and many times is the leader of jams or adding the most of any band member
- Trey sounds great and is much more confident with the composed sections of songs
God I love this band... this show was so much fun and I can't wait for the next opportunity to see them again.
wilson: this got the saturday night crowd gassed up. pretty straight forward version
nicu: this worked out really well coming out of wilson. nice sharp version of an old classic.
wolfman's brother: the boys were really soaring on this one. trey piled on torward the end too. i think i liked this one better than the two i saw this summer, alpine and burgettestown.
ocelot: a good flowing set continues. this is one of my favorite new songs, and it was well-played again.
torn and frayed: good halloween bring back. i'm not a big stones fan, but this one was cool to see from the 3rd row. trey seemed to be having fun playing it.
strange design: this another one i really enjoyed. it was like page was in my living room singing to me. it's amazing how songs that might bore you a bit, are so much cooler when you are way up close. good design.
ginseng sullivan: nice snappy bluegrass tune. didn't see this one coming. good to hear it making its rounds.
alburquerque: certainly didn't see this neil young gem coming. pretty straight forward, good version
split open and melt: this or rock and roll might take the cake for this 2 night run in cincy. very cool jam on this melt. it was a very good collabortive effort too. gordon and fishman were doing some really cool stuff with trey and page working all around them. like the best melts do, i didn't think they would bring this one back home and, walah!, they bring it all back home. bravo!
dirt: nice cool down after a hot melt
limb: i like this song in the first set; i feel it too frequently sits in prime second set spots. this one was pretty straight forward but it got everybody up and ready for....
run like an antelope: this was a darn good set closign antelope. it may not have gonoe too far out, but it was a nice crisp, high energy antelope. trey was sounding pretty hot on this one.
rock and roll: i have always liked this in the set opening slot. good version, page came in strong on his high note, and then they jammed! the jam on this rock and roll really echoed the vibe of the melt jam in the first set. trey really took charge on this jam. after a jam similar to the melt jam, they moved into some funky realms before dropping into...
ghost: this was a nice little opening pairing. trey did flub a few spots in ghost, but the jam was very nice. they seemed to have really gotten back into this song after they played, what i thought, were some uninteresting versions this summer. they got a nice dark funk jam brewing in this one before petering out into...
if i could: decent cool down song, but i didn't really want to cool down. another quasi rare song, i suppose
bdnl: still dont really like this song. it's a little cheesey. i guess they played it well but still didn't do much for me
caspian: really dislike this song and am amazed at the number of phish fans that seem to really enjoy it... yucky
suzy greenberg: they brought a little bit of fire back in this set. page was sounding sharp before they cut into...
2001: i miss the days when you had to "earn" your 2001. it would only come out of the scurviest depths of a nasty spacey jam. now they just pop them up any old place. funk out the back section of that suzy and work torward that 2001... either way, pretty good version, page, once again, was hot. fishman and gordon held it down nicely.
coil: this was a little odd coming out of 2001, but i liked it. always a good set closer
monkey: straight forward.
axilla: good encore. trey said he was playing it for someone holding a sign. well, there were a couple of signs down there. one, obviously, was axilla. now there was another that was double sided. one side said mexican cousin, the other said peaches en regalia. it seems insane to me that the same person would be rooting for both mexican cousin, WHY!, and peaches en regalia. when trey said he was playing a sign, i was stoked. we had a one in three shot at catching peaches en regalia... oh well, they took my middle choice. good axilla and the boys seemed to have fun lighting it up.
I liked the first set of this night better than the first of the previous, and i liked the 2nd set of the friday show better than this one. nothing really did much for me after ghost, except for maybe 2001, which i still didn't really care for how they fit it in. all in all though, it was a good show and a good weekend of music, especially when you tack on the medeski martin and wood show i saw in Indy on thursday.
set 1: wolfman's brother, antelope, soa melt (must hear), and torn and frayed if you're into the stones thing
set 2: rock and roll>ghost>if i could