, attached to 2003-02-28

Review by The__Van

The__Van Birds of a Feather smokes right out of the gate with some got type 1 action settling us in for what is soon to be an all-timer of a show. Destiny Unbound comes out of nowhere! The crowd is so confused at first; it takes a minute for them to realize what they're witnessing. I hear on the tape a girl saying "what?! Holy shit!!" Not a single ounce of rust on this Destiny. You'd think they'd been playing regularly all this time it sounds so natural. Horn is a damn near perfect selection to calm down a bit from the opener. Now we arrive at the third in a trilogy of historic Winter '03 Gins, this one being my favorite. The traditional type 1 jam is beautiful and would be noteworthy on it's own. Trey leads them into a slightly softer jam and plays a riff similar to Mr. Completely. Gradually they build back up to an explosive peak!! Everything after is just icing on the cake! Sleep is another damn near perfectly placed ballad. We need a nap after that Gin. Back on the Train is an entirely type 1 exploration and it is perfect. Not a single note out of place. This is the only time I will describe a Phish jam as perfect. Bouncing is yet another flawless choice to cool down a bit before leading into a great rendition of WOTC to close out the set. This set is damn good; not a single down moment. Song placement is top notch, song quality is top notch, and the jams are top f***ing notch!

Tweezer - Right from the get-go there is something special about this one. Trey is playing around a lot more than usually, goading Fish into spicing up the rhythm. The post Ebenezer breakdown is double its normal length much to delight of myself and the crowd judging by the roar on the tape. The jam launches straight into cowbell work from Fish and bubbly, bouncing grooves from Mike. The band effortlessly moves through several sections of soft textures and loud rocking. Page is absolutely sizzling on the keyboards, adding stabs of color in just the right spots. Like a bird they flap their wings to gain speed then spread out to glide along in the wind. Trey's pulsating vibrato syncs up exactly with Fish's raindrop like cymbal hits. All at once they stick their heads above the clouds and bring us up to bathe in the brilliant sunshine. We are soaring. High over the clouds now, Trey finds an emotive pattern knit in the sky and grabs hold. Tears stream down my face at the sight of such beauty. Trey pulls us higher and higher, so high he stretches the seams of reality, pushing into outer space. At the last possible moment he relents. We slowly make our way back down beneath the clouds into some jazzy funk-lite. From there we return to a rocking celebration jam gradually taking us all the way back down to earth.

Soul Shakedown Party reminds us where we are with some fun sing along reggae. The needed follow-up to what we just witnessed. Bowie slithers in with a little major key work from Trey in the intro. The jam explores some darkness, then pulls back, then goes dark again; this time really dark. Positively demented in the best Bowie way. They pull us back to the ending section of Bowie and then we are finally given a slight break in the form of Round Room. I say "slight" because you never want to skip Round Room. Hood is the only choice to end such a set. You couldn't ask for a better send off than a traditional peaky Hood. The finale screams, sending us into the encore break. Contact > Mexican Cousin > Tweezer Reprise is fitting. Honestly they could've played nothing and I would be satisfied. Phish can do no wrong. This is music for the ages.


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