I went in with so-so expectations after a long break and this was the first I saw them since the summer show of 2004 across the river right before Coventry. I had no idea what to expect, but I went in promising myself to just go with the flow and leave all the past at the door. The Philly scene is always rowdy...man, they huff balloons in the parking lot of a 1pm Phillies game. It was the band's first indoor show in Philly since coming back and the first one in the "new" Spectrum as the locals call it. The vibe was rowdy, overwhelmingly positive, fun, and party-like. A lot happens to a guy in 5 years and I was coming into this show from a very different vantage point. The 22 year-old carefree guy in 2004 had given way to a 28 year-old husband and father. Still, I thought, I know how to get down and I was feeling the flow.
Set 1: Perhaps no other song than this could have opened this show. Energy, appropriate lyrics for me personally, and two substantial peaks in the jam make this one of the more solid straightforward versions that I have ever heard live (7-10-99 is different). I was loving it. The Gin was also extremely above average and indicative of the type of Gins that have become regular in the first set every other night. Very solid jamming that builds naturally and organically with patience. I was thrilled so far. Cities by request is ok. Oddly enough, I am not a huge fan of this tune. It just seems a little predictable to me. Oh well...many will disagree. Camel Walk was tight and awesome and I thought kept the energy level up. The Curtain With absolutely made this set for me. What a great song. A Phish-only sound that always makes me breeze back through memories and feelings of the past...particularly With. You gotta have it With. Now I think that this is perfect placement for The Wedge. I prefer it to be first set, or maybe only at Loring AFB, a second set opener. Good version, the crowd was locked in. Moma Dance brought the funk in a standard way. Again, perfect song placement with Reba. Wonderful execution and it was apparent that the band was practiced and serious about playing on this night. We were sure Golgi would end the set, but much to our delight, Faulty Plan kicked in. Phish was reading the crowd that was clearly asking for ass-kicking rock and roll, practically begging for it. I almost think they planned to end with Golgi, but said fugg it...and kicked into one more tune. Excellent first set.
I was still wandering around as the lights went down and Possum kicked in. Got to my seat during the jam and clearly the energy was still there. DWD was perfect and again, the lyrics seemed all the more right for me at this stage in my life. I enjoyed 20 years later, and I respect and like the desire to do some newer stuff. It's a pretty good song, and with such an old school feel to the entire show, everyone was open to it. The Hood was great. The jam was very blissed and I zoned out for a while. I always want that jam to go on forever. One of these days, they should open with it and just play off of that theme for an entire set. Just a suggestion. The rest of the set reads like a greatest hits and each song was VERY well played. A Day in the Life encore was just right.
All in all, this show was a rousing success for the band and convinced me that although I cannot hop on the highway and follow them any more, I will make it a point to catch them locally whenever I can. The band sounded inspired, motivated, and fun. Good vibes and great playing. I also enjoyed the new arena despite wishing that they were playing the old one once more before its demise. Phish felt right in the new place and hopefully will rock it for years to come.