, attached to 2002-12-31

Review by Flubhead

Flubhead Is it me or is this a really weird New Year's show? For a NYE show, and for it being the first Phish show in two years, everything is just suffused with slop. The first show since October 2000 doesn't bode well in hindsight. I actually love the great bulk of 2.0 - you'll even find me defending 2004 on this board - but there's a druggy darkness to this show that manifests in how un-together they sound, how puzzling the song choices are, and how frustrating the setlist construction is. Thankfully the February and Summer 2003 shows largely make up for how inauspicious this first show of 2.0 show feels

Was it jitters from being away so long? Inadequate rehearsal?

I'm sure it was a blast in person, you'd be churlish to pick nits immediately afterward, but on tape/mp3, most of this show (as it sounds to me in March 2024) suffers from a weirdly grating 2004-ish tone from Trey and a tossed off feeling to most of the proceedings. The whole cast sounds legless. The composed sections of songs they should be able to play underwater and asleep at that stage of their playing history - Harry Hood, Jim, Divided Sky, Rift, Auld Lang Syne, even!, etc. - are carelessly rendered, riddled with mistakes and few of the jams really go anywhere compelling

Not only that, but the song selection is bizarre for a supposedly celebratory NYE bash

Imagine not seeing Phish for two years and.....Sample to open the NYE countdown-centered third set? Then a Seven Below, the debut - Trey has rarely been able to nail that main melody guitar line consistently, and even the debut lacks cohesion (I'm sure they were distracted in the moment due to onstage circumstances); but in any case, it's an odd number for the NYE gag to accompany IMO.

Time Loves a Hero is a cool song - but I'm guessing they chose it due to a "Father Time" NYE theme? Otherwise, it's a non sequitir in the middle of the third set, truncating a Runaway Jim jam that could have justified its butchered composed section had it been played with the necessary patience and care.

Taste to kick off the sixth sixth of this show - love the tune and I always welcome a waltzish Type I jam, but its placement at this stage in the journey leaves me scratching my head (and again the composed parts sway off course). The jam builds up some steam and I wish it was allowed more chance to breathe; instead they botch the transition back into the song.

They send everyone off with...? Two ballads and a debut. Happy New Year everyone! Drive safely.

I admit to never being a big fan of the silent trees jam in WOTC. I like the other parts of that tune, but that jam has never really been a favorite of mine, and this version sounds like Mike is playing a different song than the rest of the band....admittedly the jam isn't without its moments once they abandon the silent trees chord structure.

Checks in the plus column: Carini is intense but short. The Waves is great (I'm biased because I love that song so much) and the Piper is an odd choice for first song in two years, and an NYE show to boot, but the jam cooks. The Wilson gag must have been awesome in person; it's fun on tape (if you know what's actually going on on stage). The Mound bustout is a great idea - maybe they coulda practiced it more, but it's a welcome gesture. Also, ironically the composed section of Horn, a section that is sadly, rarely done true justice, ISN'T that bad here! I count only one minor clam. Also, the Coil and Bowie are both competent and enjoyable, even if neither of them really get off the ground.

I wasn't there, so obviously I'm seeing thru 3.0 colored glasses - particularly post-12-31-2023, I can't help measure other New Year's Eve shows against this one and find it lacking. The highlights are prety good though. To me this show has about 45 minutes worth of gold in the span of 3.5 hours. You can compile the Piper, the Horn, the Waves and the Carini from this show and come up with a nice one disc vinyl record from NYE 2002.


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