, attached to 2009-11-21

Review by dividedsky13

dividedsky13 This was my first indoor show since 2003 and the 5 hour drive from Chicago went by amazingly fast. I've been listening to and loving Phish's music for more than 10 years now and have accepted and embraced the fact that they sound different than they used to... and I love it. I think if a band continues to play the same as they always have that eventually everyone gets bored by the complacency. Their tone sounds fresh, tight, and energetic.

My hopes were very high for a remarkably fun and involving show. The last time I was in Cincy was to see Phish, and I think U.S. Bank Arena has great acoustics and a wonderful vibe. My seats with my two buddies ended up being front row diagonally behind the stage. We got to watch the boys walk right by us, and both the view and sound were fantastic.

Wilson was a great way to start. It was an easy way to tell that the crowd was REALLY into it, with everyone chanting and getting down. The transition to NICU was so smooth, and Mike was just going off during the intro. Neither song went beyond normal territory, but it was such a fun, energetic way to start off the show.

The Wolfman's Brother was just TREMENDOUS... I'm not sure if the tapes will do it justice. This song made the whole trip worth it... the whole song was played so tight and with so much energy with a ridiculous peak at the end.

I really enjoy a lot of the newer songs off of Joy, and Ocelot is one of them. This song seemed a little slower than usual, but was beautifully played with a nice jam at the end. I figured we'd get a slower song next, but Phish continued impressing me with the Stone's cover Torn and Frayed, freshly minted from Festival 8. They killed it, and the crowd was digging it.

The next set of songs was definitely a breather for me and the only part of the show that was average. I like Strange Design, and I know Ginseng Sullivan and Albuquerque are rare songs, but they just didn't do it for me. All three were played nicely, but I took them as a time to sit down and catch my breath.

I haven't enjoyed any of the Split Open and Melt's they've played in 09 and this one was no different. While the opening composed section was awesome, I'm not a fan of their weird, spacey jams that seemingly have no direction, and this SOAM followed the same path as before. They did come together for a nice ending, but otherwise I just haven't been able to enjoy the song. My friends, however, loved it, and this is exactly why I love the band... their repertoire of songs and playing ability is so varied that people will always have different opinions on what they hear and enjoy.

I am a big fan of Dirt and so are my friends, so we were very pleased to hear this. Again, nothing groundbreaking, but nice to hear. The Limb that followed was so sweet... Trey and Page just tore up the jam and brought such a huge smile to my face. This song reminds me so much of hanging out with some of my closest friends during college, so I can't help being amazingly happy when I hear it in concert.

Since YEM and Slave had been played the night before and Fluffhead, Mike's, and Bowie were all out of the picture, the number 1 set closer I wanted to hear was Antelope, and I nearly lept out of my section onto the stage when I heard the opening notes. I'm not sure if this will hold up on tape, but seeing this song live is always so powerful. I thought they did an excellent job with all the sections... I just wish they would extend the part before "Rye, rye, rocco". Overall, I loved the first set and couldn't wait for the second.

For me, the best three songs they've played in 09 are Tweezer, Wolfman's Brother, and Rock and Roll. This RnR sent a huge cheer through the crowd and raged for a good 15 minutes before segueing beautifully into Ghost. This Ghost was funky, groovy, and eventually rocking as well and had our whole section dancing and getting down.

I couldn't have been happier with If I Could, my first in 26 shows and such a perfect way to slow the set down. My friend and I both love Backwards Down the Number Line but both wanted a much shorter, focused version of the song. As if reading our minds, we got a 6 min version of BDTNL that was so good and to the point before dropping into Caspian. I'll be the first to admit that I really like this song, but a lot of people around us used this as time to sit and catch a breather. I thought the jam was wonderful and the song was really nicely played.

Suzy sent the arena into an uproar and the singing during the chorus was so loud it was incredible. The placement of this song was perfect and had me on the edge of my seat for what they would play next...

2001 is the BEST INDOOR SONG (IMHO) that Phish plays, and if I didn't think the crowd could get any louder after Suzy they did at the start of this song. While not that long, they nailed this so well and the lights accompanying the song were out of control.

Finally, Squirming Coil ended the set with a nearly flawless compositional part and a much longer, extended, beautiful outro solo by Page.

The Sleeping Monkey, Axilla encore was just icing on the cake. Here are a few things I noticed:
- Mike sounded so much clearer indoors as opposed to seeing him outdoors
- Fishman was much fuller on the drums and isn't just providing background drumming... he was leading some jams and really adding to focus and peaks much more than earlier in the summer
- Page is just killing it, and many times is the leader of jams or adding the most of any band member
- Trey sounds great and is much more confident with the composed sections of songs

God I love this band... this show was so much fun and I can't wait for the next opportunity to see them again.


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