, attached to 2003-01-02

Review by demented

demented This is part of my project to contribute reviews of all my shows. This was my second show, having listened to lots of live Phish since my clueless self had seen Phish in 1999.

The energy was high of course, this being the second show back from the Hiatus.

CHALKDUST TORTURE was a great choice for opener. This version clocks in at 14 and a half minutes, longer than any subsequent versions I have heard. I like this version. It goes lots of different places, straight-forward jamming with some light handed Trey guitar work, an abstract section that eventually become almost static but suddenly (my favorite part) in the 12th minute explodes into an intense climactic jam. BATHTUB GIN follows, again relatively long by post-09 standards at 17 plus minutes. After a raucous Page opening and the vocals, they seem to be meandering a bit, trying to find a groove. They find it in the 7th minute and proceed to build a great climax over the next 9 minutes. Straightforward, propulsive without being in a hurry (tricky to pull off)), incremental build, thoroughly enjoyable. IT”S ICE seems an excellent change-up with it's darkness and minor-key moments. A straight build opens into a quiet motionless moment (yeah) followed by some Page grand moments. The song flows straight into BACK ON THE TRAIN. The lyrics with their metaphoric references to the band and their return were great moments (even if they did get back off just 19 months later). Another relatively long version at almost 12 minutes. A linear jam building though without any big finish. ROUND ROOM comes next, the first of only 5 times so far. I like this goofy song, wouldn't want it every third show but it would be a good change up once in a while. THE HORSE>SILENT continued the mellow middle of the set. STASH got things rolling again with a version I like a lot, getting sounding out of control by minute 8 building to a frenetic climax with great contributions from Page and Fishman, love the distorted guitar. An uptempo WATER IN THE SKY provides another change of pace, again at 6 minutes longer than post 2009 versions. Nicely done. CHARACTER ZERO follows closing the set. High energy and intense.

46 DAYS was another debut, this time of a song that has stuck. This starts rather mellow, slightly slower tempo than recent versions I have heard. Again not in a hurry as this version, at 20 minutes, is one of the longest versions to date (not nearly IT long though). This one builds some low level intensity into the 8th minute then shifts to a mellow and meandering jam, like it better now sipping coffee on my couch than I remember liking it then. The tempo and energy does build to a loose Can't You Hear Me Knocking jam by minute 15. An intense finish slides into SIMPLE where they do struggle with the vocals, both the harmonies and getting the lyrics right. The instrumentals are mellow and only get more so, getting quiet, gentle and delicate for the last few minutes of the 10 minute song. A static finish flows beautifully into MY FRIEND, MY FRIEND. They seem a bit unsure of themselves until it shifts into the vocal section. The build into the “knife” section is nicely menacing. LIMB BY LIMB delivers just what I want from this song, vocals clean, good intense jam to a big climax. The third debut of the night is THUNDERHEAD. A melancholy ballad with a tasteful guitar solo at the end. RUN LIKE AN ANTELOPE starts right away to the delight of the crowd. While not a particularly clean version, I like how the intensity builds. A good jam moves along until about the 6th minute when the intensity really starts building. Distorted guitar effects ensue by minute 7. By minute 8, it starts being fairly out of control, in a way that I really like. A satisfying climax finishes at 9:30. The finish is fine, with a “spliff” reference, and not particularly out of control. CAVERN follows straight on. I was happy to get my first one. Trey struggled at a few points with the complicated lyrics. Fun and mostly what you want from a Cavern. The encore included the fourth debut of the night, MEXICAN COUSIN. Honestly, this is a song that I never have appreciated here or since. In this version, Trey starts his guitar solo at about the 2:30 mark and slowly builds. Nothing notable.

To wrap up, is there any reason to check out this show so many years later. Well it does have 4 debuts in it, of which the 46 DAYS is notable. I prefer the first set to the second, with strong versions of Chalkdust, Stash and Gin as well as a cool (sorry) It's Ice. This was certainly a great show to attend with lots of happy positive energy in the Mothership.
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