[Recap courtesy of user @spac_melt, AJ Stalloni. -Ed.]
Ahh, back at the wonderful Mann Center in my hometown of Philadelphia, PA. Phish (or at least Trey) loves playing here, and the energy is palpable. It rained a few times throughout the afternoon/early evening, but luckily nothing along the lines of Wilmington 2.
There would be no rain delay tonight a la 7/8/14.
The house lights went down right around 8. The band hit the stage with "Strawberry Letter 23" --- a Shuggie Otis cover that I'm pretty sure everyone thought would be just a one-time cover from the 'dozen. This, the tenth version, really hit the spot in the opening role. The following "Gin," while not quite on the level of the last several renditions (MSG, Mex, Greek, Alpha), was still a soaring near-15-min version that segued perfectly into "BOTT." This version SMOKED, as many of the last few have.
"Coil" to follow was a lovely/rare mid-set call. "Axilla (Part II)" was next and while it's becoming slightly overplayed, that's OK. "Ya Mar" was the perfect summertime shed tune. Nothing particularly noteworthy, but a lovely tune that we only get 1-2 times per tour.
"Blaze On" was up next. It didn't get too far out there, but absolutely shredded for 10 min. "Waste"/"WOTC"/"46 Days" was not my favorite way to close a set, but everything---except maybe "Walls"---was very well played.
This right here was your middle of the road/average great first set. "Gin" was probably the highlight. Very high energy with everything well played.
Set 2 kicked off with our well overdue "Disease." It started off strong with glorious, primary color soloing from Trey. Things moved along for a few minutes as the band shuffled ideas/themes. Trey looked frustrated at one point and stopped playing. He turned around, gave the band a look like, LET'S GO - and BOOM, we're off. The last 5 or so minutes of the jam really hit on a sweet theme before circling back to the main melodic theme. All in all an above-average 16 min opener.
Next up was the highlight of the show, a MONSTER, nearly 20 min "Well". This new song---Trey debuted it with the Trio, then performed it with Phish at Alpha---really took off tonight. Those dark chords ripped a portal into some of the most intricate/dense improv of the tour. It was so good, Fish quipped, "Can we play that again?" much like the Dayton '97 "Tube" or the San Fran '18 "46 Days." Trey, however, with no time for jokes, ripped into "NMINML."
The jam in "NMINML" while not very long (under 7 min) really took off with some of Trey's finest playing of the evening, before segueing into my number 1 wish list song for the evening: "BASOS." I love this song so much and I wish they would play it more. The ethereal improv they dip into with this tune really hits all my sweet spots, and tonight was no different. This rendition wasn't as long or detailed as Greek 3, but more along the lines of Dick's '21 or Raleigh '22---a soaring 10ish minutes of pure cosmic bliss, before bleeding into another fab "Piper."
They pack so so much into these 10-12 min jams these days just effortlessly.
"Crosseyed" was next and brought the house down. Again, not too long, but incendiary playing from everyone before "CDT" wrapped up the set.
A "Wading"/"Fire" encore was a nice contrast, before we were sent off into the Philly night.
All in all I'd say this show lies somewhere in the lower/middle of the pack for the tour, which is to say it's a great Phish show. "The Well" is one of the top jams of the tour, and "BASOS" is always absolutely gorgeous. We've heard a lot of big rock climaxes this tour, no doubt inspired by Trey's Trio shows. A lot of these new songs are really breathing life into sets, while some of them are highlighting shows--- "The Well" from Mann 1 being a prime example.
I hope you enjoyed reading, and I apologize for the brevity/lateness of this review. I'm running on a few hours of sleep with another show ahead tonight! It's a good time to be a Phish fan.
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