Phish left the confines of the East Coast following two shows in New Jersey that produced mix results in the final date. The show had great parts, but completely failed in the second set where Trey seemed to rush through every song to successfully cross it off the setlist. Heading west for Clarkston, MI the band unleashed an unparalleled performance that contained all the pieces for a great show. Fun vibe, good songs and deep jams.
Now the 72 hour rule is still in effect here, but I am very comfortable in saying that this is the best show Phish has played since 2003/2004.
Flying out of the gates with a 10-min Wolfman's Brother, led by Mike's driving bass and Trey razor sharp guitar, the band checked the first great show pre-requisite off the list. An extended jam in the opening slot. In my mind, every great show should start with 10+ minutes in one jam. Followed by a Funky Bitch that, as always, showcased page but also contained a excellent turn from Trey where sometimes he chooses to simply move on. Even Sample In A Jar didn't suck in the third spot. Vocals sounded crisp and the band sounded good. One theory for the outcome of this show, will undoubtedly be as a celebration of Mike's birthday. In NICU, Trey improvised a birthday wish in the lyrics and followed up with a Happy Birthday tease on guitar. Continuing with the traditional, and as of late rare, Mike's Groove Phish more than made up for the disappointing effort in Bethel. While they seemingly extended the "tramps" segment for a few bars, I waited on egg shells for the band to carry on into a second jam segment. When it changed into Hydrogen I was yet again deflated, but its first appearance since last summer surely pleased most fans. I on the other hand am a jaded ungrateful bastard who will secretly hate Mike's and whatever follows it in the same fashion that I hate hockey ever since he Whalers left Hartford. The set closed with another spin of the "Request-O-Matic" machine from Trey, when a girl down front shouted out for Tela, a high energy Chalk Dust and a Wedge finale. Great set.
The second set opened to several (poorly coordinated) serenades of Happy Birthday to Mike, who responded with a tease of his own already deep into the preparations for his DWD effects. The DWD that followed is unquestionably the best version they have played in 3.0, it's the longest that they've played on a single song and it featured at least three truly unique jam segments. Unreal. Add to this a fantastic segue into Fluffhead, which maintained all of the energy in the house and an above average David Bowie with Stash-like jam elements made for an unbelievable stretch of music that is unlike anything else in this era. Is the DWD the best overall jam in 3.0? Needs re-listening, but no one will question saying that's true. In a lot of respects, this feels like 3.0's coming out party. Even when you talk about the Camden Sand or Albany's Seven BeGhost, you can quickly be met with a "what have you done for me lately answer". The fact that this jam comes in this show is a seems to reinforce how real this appears to be. When Waste followed this unreal segment, you'd expect it to kill it all, but guess what? It didn't. Now I'm never gonna defend poorly placed Anastasio ballads, but this one features a slick segue into a James Brown laden 2001. Closing the show with Cavern and Good Times Bad Times this show just didn't quit.
It's the best show of this tour, duh. And it's probably the best of 3.0.
Postscript notes: I erronously ommited mention of the amazing jam on Coltrane's, A Love Supreme. Definitely listen for that in particular. Also, I just left "Tela" out of the sentence on the topic. Check out the comment from @MJZ1974 on the circumstances of how the Tela request came to be. Very cool!
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