, attached to 2014-07-30

Review by Scott

Scott The band's magnificent range was so on display at this show. I think an additional marker of a truly extraordinary show is whether the setlists showcase the band's range with a variety of moods, tempos, and sonic palettes with original sequences of songs that fit nicely next to one another. This show is a standout in this regard even though the Fuego to open set II was unsurprising. This consideration is hard to break down. At some level, you know it when you hear it, but it doesn't hurt if some of your personal favorites were inserted at the right time, and played well. For this show, Billy Breathes, despite a little tentative sound to Trey at the beginning of his scriped solo part, really hit the spot, as did the beautiful rendition of Mountains in the Mist, the Seven Below, and the Lizards. This is perhaps one of the more subjective parts of a review, so be it.

About the Seven Below, it is a great example of a 3.0 jam getting where it is going fairly quick, but wow, I love the uplifting melodic groove developed after the 4 minute mark, after which Trey puts some sweet licks on top and lets Mike and Jon create more drive before switching to a gorgeous set of arpeggios peaking at 7:30 and then winding up quickly thereafter. Had those 4 minutes topped off 15 minutes of meandering and inconsistent exploration in a late 1.0 jam vehicle, it would have ended up on the jam chart. When they are truly in the zone, they don't need several minutes to get their bearings and lock in and they aren't choosing the jam arising from the primordial muck sort of sound as much as they once did, which I more or less prefer. Some people like to wallow around for a while and so don't like the arc of many 8-10 minute performances. I say get on with it, bring the ideas, let it flow. Yeah, I'm loving 3.0

Of course I agree with the general praise for the Meatstick, which I'd call more of a type 1.5 sort of deviation that stayed meatsticky with Mike popping the Meatstick bass theme for much of the middle section with a quick tease of Moma Dance around 5:50 before getting even more pop-tastic when he goes back to the Meatstick riff at 6:18. I wonder if Mike wanted the band to hear his Moma tease and start a segue, only either they didn't notice in time or didn't feel like following that lead?

The upshot of all this is that I think 7/30 is equal or better than 7.5, 7.11, 7.12 and maybe 7.26. The only complete shows on this most excellent tour I'm ready to declare more worth collecting are 7/4, 7/13, 7/20 and 7/27.

This show is a good example of the 3.0 qualities that I appreciate along with enough improvisational goodness in the Fuego and Piper to put it in the top third of the live catalog overall.

Portsmouth is a true gem, the sort of show I could see the band releasing even though there are bigger fireworks on other dates, sort of like Live Phish 5 (7/8/00) and 17 (7/15/98). Don't miss it.
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