This marked Phish’s first show at Red Rocks since August 7, 1996 (388 shows). Trey introduced Mike before the start of the second set, at which point Mike pretended to leave the stage, prompting Trey to introduce him a second time. Weekapaug contained a Celebration (Kool & the Gang) tease from Mike. Ghost contained a Praise You jam and a Windy City tease. Trey teased Piper before starting Limb By Limb.
In my opinion the Red Rocks and Gorge runs offer some of the best stuff of the 3.0 years to-date. These were the first real excursions that made it seem like the band was truly back, and capable of reaching past heights--a feeling that's come and gone since. 2009 boasts some really strong moments, notably the second night in Albany and the whole NYE Miami run. Anyway it kind of gets started here at Red Rocks with the Stash, Trey going out there, trying things out, latching onto a groove, taking it into major territory and off to the races. The Ghost is really gratifying too. Full band exploration, long interesting jam. They'd top these outings with Sneaking Sally and Bathtub in the few nights to follow, but don't hesitate to hear this quarter of shows in their entirety.
As the sky faded to grey, the boys pulled out a Divided Sky opener for their historic return to Red Rocks. I fell in love with Ocelot that night, which ended in a bluesy jam. Poor Heart got me doing the twist and Moma Dance was fun, if not slightly generic. But the Stash jam dissolved into pure weirdness.
Second set started with Trey introducing Mike to a slightly less-then riveted audience just snapping back to life after a short setbreak. Suddenly, Mike walked back off-stage so that Trey could re-introduce him, who said something like, "You gotta love a guy who says he wants a second introduction." Hilarious! Mike then ripped into the bassline of Mike's Song, which led into a slightly weak Weekapaug. But Ghost brought the spookiness. Billy Breathes was beautiful – my first in over 5 years! Definitely ‘goosebumps’ for me. David Bowie didn't get that high, energy-wise, but I got the same feeling from the Hampton Bowie, too.
Overall, it felt like they were conserving their energy for three more nights at Red Rocks. But the boys got more relaxed with each show and by night four, I was officially blown away.
oh, make ups can be so sweet! phish and the town of morrison kissed and made up, and phish fans reeped the benefits. of course, this ticket, if you didn't get it through the "traditional means," was muy expensivo, but phish came out, and really made it worth the money. this show is loaded with pre hiatus gems, and they play pretty damn well.
the divided sky kicks this one off appropriately. happy to be back at red rocks, the boy's playing is filled with inspiration. ocelot is one of my favorite new tunes and it works really well here in front of the wedge. the wedge, along with divided sky for that matter, in my opinion, are very good "red rocks songs." the wedge, after years of tinkering, really seems to have come into its own in 2009. i really enjoy this and the deer creek versions, in particular. they both just have a nice breezy feel. poor heart gets the crowd jumping, as does the deep funk of the moma dance. the horn is a nice rocker, which also reminds everyone that they will be "picked up at 8" for the next 3 nights. stash gives the boys some room to really move, and they take advantage of it. trey really steers this one into some nice, murky realms before bringing it back home. the horse/silent is nice breather before a good rocking possum closes out the set.
after introducing mike to the crowd and a few antics, the boys crank into a really nice set opening mike's grooves. mike's climbs relatively high before simmering down into hydrogen. gordon leads the charge in weekapaugh, with trey playing quite nimbly in between. they bring out another big gun with ghost. this is one of my favorites of the year. gordon and fishman really do an excellent job supporting trey and page on this one. they provide a super thick back drop for the boys to explore. this jam is nice and textured and it flows oh so well. sticking with the funk theme, wolfman's pops out of the back section of this jam. trey really rips the wolfman's. it is one of the better ones of the year. they opt not to slow down quite yet, and they pull out a nice limb by limb. they don't take it out too far, but they nail the "spirally" limb closing jam. billy breathes and the coil give the band a quick breather. you just kind of have a feeling coil is not going to close this one out, and it's confirmed when the band does not leave for pages solo. they work it nicely into a good solid bowie. not ground breaking, but a good way to end a pretty stacked show. page has some nice work in the middle section. loving cup is a pretty standard encore, not my favorite.
it is tough to say which night of red rocks is the best, but either way, this is a damn fine start. the first set is very well paced with a nice assortment of quality phish tunes with a couple nice improv heavy tunes in the mix. the second set comes out rocking and it doesn't slow down for an hour. from start to finish, this set might be the most complete, but i have to say the jam of the run has got to be that drowned>crosseyed combo, just nasty.
This was a pretty rockin' setlist for my first Phish show since the return. Energy level was at an all-time high for Red Rocks. One of the best versions of "Stash" I have ever heard and looking back on the entire weekend, "Stash" still stands up with Friday's "Drowned > Crosseyed" as the jam of the weekend for me. Listen to it again on the tapes. Stash's jam section was simply AWESOME! Fairly high energy second set as well and even though "Billy Breathes" brought the energy down at bit, it was a welcomed treat, showcasing Trey's intense vocal vibrato.
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