, attached to 2009-07-31

Review by JonnyRingo

JonnyRingo This was my favorite night of the run, even more so than Saturday, which many of my friends site as their favorite. Having shattered my leg a few months previous, this RR run was my incentive to stick with PT and rehab to be able to attend. Having gotten tickets through the Phish lottery prior to breaking my leg also helped drive me to get better. I was there, leg in cast and hobbling on crutches. In a strange way, these Phish shows help me mend my leg and spirit. I have to salute the staff, for even though I didn't have a handicapped ticket they allowed me to shuttle up to the entrance and even let me in the venue a few minutes before they opened general doors so I'd have time to get to my seat. Little did I know that the broken leg was going to allow me to sit dead center, row 4 for most of the weekend. Something good actually did come out of breaking my leg after all.

Friday night was a great opening night for the 4-show run and on paper it might look like the best night, but the band seemed reserved for the most part; save for a spacious 18+ minute "Stash" and second set "Ghost > Wolfman's" that really got the crowd moving. It was a great night, however it lacked the exploratory jamming I was looking for when tunes such as "'Mike's Groove" and "Bowie" are in the setlist. Friday night, however, delivered in a big way and I do think second set Friday was one of the most underrated sets of 2009.

What started out as a beautiful Colorado evening quickly turned to a freezing rain downpour during the first set as the band broke into SOAM. As much as I tried to concentrate on the music at about the 6-minute mark the weather was too much. People were scrambling for cover and we quickly ripped up our tarp up and about 10 of us took shelter under it as a makeshift hut. It was hard to concentrate on the jam not only because of the weather, but because stagehands were scrambling onstage as the band continued, tearing down much of Page's setup (rain was blowing in sideways soaking him as the others stayed dry). Page was a trooper though and continued to bang away on his piano as equipment was being unhooked and taken offstage around him. There was simply too much going on to truly get into the jam. By the time they finished it was full on pouring. Looking back, that first set was definitely cut short. It was the shortest set of the entire weekend and lucky enough after a VERY long setbreak (about 50 minutes) the rain finally died down and the sky opened to a beautiful starry night.

During the break my friends and I kept saying the boys were going to come out and kill it, and man they didn't disappoint. The "Drowned -> Crosseyed" was mind-blowing! I have never been the biggest fan of "Drowned" as I always thought Mike really strained to sing it, but this version was inspired and completely changed my perspective. Trey is a goddamn ROCKSTAR on this version. The jam out of it features the entire band going full-tilt, all out before mellowing out for one of the best, true-transitions into "Crosseyed" I have ever heard. Most around me didn't even realize they had segued into "Crosseyed" until Fishman came in with the vocal. The place went absolutely bonkers! "Crosseyed" carried the funk for about 13-minutes and Red Rocks came alive, more so than at any other time over the weekend run, in my opinion. "Joy" was sort of a letdown after the 24-minute "Drowned -> Crosseyed" mayhem, but was a nice break. After the breather the band picked it back up with a "Tweezer > BDTNL > Fluffhead > Piper -> A Day in the Life" that was again, inspired, emotional and really well-played. Tweezer was a blast and Piper was completely out of control, dark and evil goodness. The transition from "Piper" to "A Day In the Life" was again perfect, unexpected and absolutely welcomed. By the set's end the encore didn't even matter, but the "Greenberg > Tweezer Reprise" were the perfect cap to a great evening.

I definitely believe the raw energy from Friday night's second set carried over into Saturday for the band, which was also a very inspired night of music. Sunday was also a good, relaxed cap to a wonderful run featuring the novelty of having Bill Kreutzmann on stage, but Friday was the Phish I was looking for and hoping to see. Out of the four Red Rocks shows, Friday is the night I continually come back to for repeated listens and was also the night I fully realized Phish was back in full force.
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