, attached to 2003-12-30

Review by n00b100

n00b100 Set 1: A sharp and muscular Wilson starts the show, and then a surprise as a) it's not finished, and b) the one and only Sand of 2.0 starts up in place of "BLAT BOOM", a Sand that's closer to the looser versions of 3.0 to the lockstep late-90s versions and picks up steam at the end before segueing into Shafty (!), which then segues into NICU. The rest of the set proceeds in standard fashion, until Gin kicks into a very relaxed and bluesy jam that gives way to the "Classic Gin" jam and then morphs into something harder and more muscular (Fish, in particular, is raising an almighty racket), then drops back into another cool groove before collapsing into the familiar fog of noise from which 2001 emerges. 2001 is more notable for its many teases (especially the foreshadowing of the P-Funk tease) than anything else, but is certainly a neat way to close out the set.

Set 2: A personal favorite Tube kicks off, going more for upbeat jamming out of the gate than the usual (even for 3.0) mega-funk, before the bottom drops out and first Mike, then Fish get a moment to shine. Fish goes into a skittering beat as Page and Trey step up to the forefront, then they move into what I consider a typical 3.0 jam space, a thick groove where Trey plays repeating notes and Fish locks into one beat, allowing Page and Mike to dance around them as they see fit. The jam collapses into a buzzing, ugly fog (another typical 3.0 jam space), and a metal-ish guitar line claws out of the muck, then rather hilariously molds into the group's one and only full performance of LA Woman. The actual cover itself is fine, and the band wastes little time blasting into BOAF, which teases LA Woman before sliding into a nice, relaxed jam. They neatly find their way back to the usual Birds ending (it's not as big a deal to me that they don't sing the final chorus as it was to @zzyzx), and then crank up LA Woman again and bring *that* to a close before segueing into Makisupa.

So, the P-Funk Medley is one of the more polarizing moments in Phish's live history, like the BB King guest spot or the Second City guest spot or (for a non-guest spot example) the 11/19/97 Wolfman's jam. Me, I fall somewhere in the middle between "it's great" and "it sucks" - 2003 was rather past Parliament's prime (especially for poor George Clinton's voice), and it's a bit of an awkward fit, but the songs themselves are evergreen and it's fun as heck, if nothing else. Hey, it beats the Jay-Z spot, I can say that much. P-Funk leaves and they wrap up Makisupa, then finish off the set with a DWD that climbs and climbs to a fuzzy peak halfway through, then drops down into a surprisingly mellow range before Trey starts playing an amusingly rockabilly-esque version of the DWD riff and they build to Ye Olde DWD Ending to close.

Final thoughts: my favorite show of the run. The P-Funk medley is fun enough to warrant a listen, and the Tube/LA Woman/Birds sequence, DWD, and Gin -> 2001 are all more than worth your time.


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