[Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, an ordinarily reliable, clear-headed member of our team, and both a trusted and highly esteemed colleague, had so much deleterious fun at this fall's tour opener in Albany that he was mentally and physically unable to "recap" the show for this website. We therefore respectfully request that YOU "recap" the show in the Comments section below, but only if you attended it, lest you offend the more sensitive among us who believe a recap lacks credibility if the recapper is recapping based strictly on listening to a recording or viewing a webcast. -Ed.]
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No duds on this night which makes it tough to pick highlights. Besides Show of Life, I loved the Moma, Tube one two punch openers. The Halley's had some killer riffs thrown in by Trey and that Everything's Right>Right is all one needs in a first set jam. The Ghost went to some spooky places and I dug the vocal intro for the Piper which the was one of those things that could have thrown some band members off, but it all worked out. That Twenty Years later literally made the building feel like it was lifting off. And a 2001 dance party and then a Hood encore is always welcome!
The show as a whole reaffirmed by belief in Phish. Between 12-28-17 - 8-12-18 (Dicks being its own emotional entity) I've been scratching my head a bit at their more mellow, spacey, loose approach. I realize it's still very good music that many people love, but it wasn't hitting me in the same way as The Baker's Dozen and the past few years. That's on me.
This night, though, hit all the right notes for me: classic songs mixed some great new ones, tight and concise playing, an effortless flow of ideas, music that felt direct and snappy. All good things. I thought "the feeling" was there Night 1. The band came to play and it showed. A great, great night and can't wait for Hampton webcasts!
The room itself was great, feeling a whole lot cozier than its 17,500 capacity would suggest. People were clearly fired up from the get-go—call it tour opener, call it upstaters trying to get over Curveball, call it the surprise banner, really call it whatever you'd like—but this was a rather solid show, tour opener qualifier or not. Moma gets things going with some very fiery Trey-led playing, before jumping into a very fun version of Tube. This one packs a lot into its 11 minutes: crazy alien sounds and synths from Page (more on that later) before kicking into an awesome Trey and Fish led climb that ends with a nice peak packed with a few Mike bombs.
Theme was standard, with the > into Free not so much a strange little segue as it was a biffed re-entrance (a lyrics flub in Cities would also show a little rust). Free gets flexible in the Mike funk section, leading to a minunte-plus of deconstructed face-to-face riffing between Trey and Mike in the vein of the Camden or Baker's versions of Character Zero. Cool and unique little twist on an old favorite. Army of One and Halley's served as a bridge to the other notable segment of set one, the Everything's Right -> Cities combo, complete with stellar segue. Coming off a summer full of great versions, this Everything's Right delivers the goods, with a serene patient build capped by a nice Trey sustain into some more massive Gordo bombs. Great start.
Ghost-No Men-Piper is definitely a nice trio to start on paper and the crowd was definitely into it, but these versions are mostly standard fare with flashes of something great (love the 9 to 10 minute stretch in the Ghost). After this follows two curious highlights: Twenty Years Later and Show of Life (huh?). Clocking in at just over 14 minutes this 20YL goes to some very surreal sonic spaces in it's final 4 or so minutes: weird sludge bass, angry and dissonant Trey riffing, Page trying to communicate with aliens via synths, and then a nice slide back into the song proper. Ya know, the dark evil Phish shit people have been begging for. Combined with Kuroda blasting deep reds into the crowd and the entire lighting rig hovering just a pinch above the band (reminded me of the jaw-dropping Camden Split Open and Melt Kuroda work), this 20YL will almost certainly end up on the jam charts.
While Show of Life elicits the standard groans (listen to the 12/31/13 soundboard and listen to the guy scream "OH NOOOOO!" at the start of it), this version is great, with a spirited vibe and patient playing (very quiet out of the composed serction) that serves as a counterpoint to the darkness of the 20YL. 2001, Zero and Hood were all high-energy crowd pleasers to send everyone home happy, with 2001 really making the people go loco as always.
Fun one, and a good omen for fall tour. Stuff worth checking out: Tube, Free, Everything's Right -> Cities, 20 Years Later.
Now I just hope they hold off on Tweezer until Sunday. Still haven't caught one live....
Night two just didn’t do the same thing for me even though it was a very good too. But night one......hmmmm.
Set 1, tour opener. My expectations were reserved, tepid, not high, but positive. They have really been on a tear the last couple of years. The Moma Dance was a cool start, the sound was solid right from the rip. They sounded tight and at the same time had a loose swagger that makes me think they are enjoying this.
Tube! Really got dark. Spooky. Felt like they were setting the tone for the run up to Halloween! The mood got dark with a ton of powerful help from CK2018 and it was a seamless fun time living in that tube.
Theme From the Bottom > Free... The wheels fell off a little here. Theme was great, beautiful jamming, and an organic segue right into Free. Now, I haven't listened to it again yet, but, at some point, the communication seemed to loose connection. Trey and Mike came together for a meeting of the minds, literally face to face on stage and they reeled it all back in to finish the Free. Might not have happened that way, but that was my perception.
Page belted out a solid Vida Blue Army of One which, as a Vida Blue fan, I enjoyed.
Up next came the segue fest with some great jamming from everyone. Halley's Comet > Everything's Right -> Cities > Walls of the Cave
Everything is Right was fucking beautiful. Such a great song and they did a great job with it all the way through into Cities which has never let me down and finally, a song that for some reason gets me to that place, The Walls of the Cave, beautiful.
For me, the most out there moment occurred as Everything is Right morphed from its happy message and feel into some dark alley in the Cities.
Set 2: Fire all the way through. So good! Unlike the dude who was supposed to write the synopsis, I ain't getting paid. Long story short, for me, one of the best tour openers I've ever seen from the Phish.
That 20YL has been running on loop in my mind since I heard it and I DON'T CARE, it was that good.