First, The Ryman. If you haven't seen a show here, seek one out. Plan a trip to Nashville and make sure you see a band here. I'm serious. You can feel the history in the walls and the pews. That's right, pews. It's an awesome place. Take it from me, as on this weekend we would see Clapton 2 nights later in the big whatever-the-current-sponser-is arena. Honestly, I'd rather see Reba at the Ryman.
The night started off with a typical Trey song, Shine. I remember it being a very sweet version, with an obvious start-the-show warmup feeling to it. Then, BANG! Straight into the rocking Push On. It was like the band hit the switch and instantly we were mid-set! Trey was jumping around early; always a sign of a good night, and the band and the crowd fed on his energy. A rocking version of Cayman Review followed, with Trey laying down some really nice solo work using lots of open strings as is typical with this song; but the Ryman makes the notes last forever.
After a stellar Valentine and a truly inspired Night Speaks, Mozambique provided the first instrumental of the evening. A great song for this band, it really lets the rhythm section let loose while at the same time letting the band as a whole really get into the groove. Definitely a solid version on this night.
Next came a bit of a (much needed) slow down in the set with Let Me Lie. A beautiful song, not always done so well in the live setting, but they seemed to pull it off here. Drifting followed, kicking the tempo back up a notch, while not going straight to face melting. Some great guitar work in the solo section here, as well. Then Birdwatcher. Without a doubt the best version I have ever witnessed. Trey and the band seemed to be all having a great time and shooting each other smiles all during the song. Perhaps Trey noticed Del on the side of the stage.
The first set (proper) ended with a smoking Money, Love and Change. Always a rocker; but the band was firing on all cylinders at this point, having been freshly rested from Birdwatcher. I freaking love this song; great chord changes and maybe my favorite bridge section in the TAB cannon.
BDTNL was next, with Trey doing it solo acoustic, which is why I say that set 1 proper ended with Money, Love and Change. As you can imagine, a campfire singalong ensued, which was really cool actually. Here we are in this old church really, with a couple thousand voices belting out "ALL MY FRIENDS!" Pretty wild. Then Wilson. Also wild. But just when it may have been getting a bit too corny...
Out came the Del McCoury Band! They tore through a few tunes that really just made my night. Here we are at a Trey show, but Del controlling the stage. Such a pro. And those boys with him sure do know how to tear it up! I remember Trey looking a bit nervous every time it was his turn to sing or solo. I remember Del having that mile-wide grin with those squinty eyes the entire time. What a treat!
The second (or 3rd) set kicked off with a funky Gotta Jibboo. As you well know, many of these Phish tunes were born out of this TAB arrangement, specifically with several Tony Markellis bass lines. This version would not disappoint, with Trey again dancing around like a kid. He was happy on this night and it translated into great music. Next came Liquid Time. I'm not sure if I had heard this song before this version, but I consider it my introduction to this song that I now really love. Having been newer at the time, the band really was digging playing it and it was great. Then another "Phish, but really TAB" song, Sand. I've already stated that the band was playing inspired and the night was already rocking, so how do you think this went? Correct. Amazing! I could hardly stand up after I was dancing so hard.
Following this wonderful trifecta of tunes came a fierce Tuesday, followed by a fairly spaced-out Goodbye Head. And thank goodness there was this minor break in the dance party, because another colossal trifecta was on the horizon.
Seek this version of Mr. Completely out! Just spectacular. It's always good, but this was fabulous. Complete with every member of the band trading solos with Trey directing what key with hand signals and counting down to the changes. Amazing. I have never seen the spinning and jumping around he was doing during this song before or since. A must listen.
Next, a stellar version of a popular TAB cover, sultans of swing. Those knopfler guitar lines sound amazing at the Ryman. Then Jennifer singing Black Dog to close the set. I thought my head was going to explode. Massive gyrations from Trey and a ripping solo. What a setlist, and what a performance!
The encore started with Show of Life; again, the first version I personally remember hearing. A beautiful song and a great way to send us all home...
Or just send us off into downtown Nashville with our faces melted. First Tube! Talk about high energy. Again, another song born out of Tony, Russ and Trey made famous by Phish. Tony really lays down some sweet playing in this tune and Trey obviously shredded on this night. I was blown away and still am. Great night. Great show.