, attached to 2012-12-30

Review by mattyb5000

mattyb5000 This is a long summary, so the short version is this: 5 stars. So much fun.

Here's the breakdown:

Runaway Jim was short & sweet. A nice way to start right out of the gate and set the tone for a first set front-loaded with tons of pep. They quickly went into Cities, which was well played despite Trey’s voice cracking on some of the high notes early on. Trey’s guitar solo started with some of the “plinko” feel which was great, and I found myself disappointed when they ended the song rather than going into a jam, which is what it felt like they were about to do. Still, well played and solid.

Divided Sky as the 3rd song of the night! That was a surprise. This was a well-executed version, albeit only after a slight rough patch near the beginning where it seemed like the guys were out of sync. I loved the section where Trey & Mike began bouncing in unison.

From there they launched into one of the finest versions of Back on the Train they’ve pulled off all year, and although the jam didn’t break outside the box, it was the first extended jam of the night and was full of energy. I watched this show via webcast and I was out of my seat dancing to this one! The highlight of the 1st set for me.

Then from that into a great version of Ride Captain Ride, which has pleasantly become part of their regular rotation. I hope this song sticks around, because it’s always performed well and acts as a great bridge between any number of songs.

Up next, Ocelot, with Trey’s voice finally sounding smooth and warmed up. No trouble with any high notes here. The jam was nice on this one too, again nothing outside the box yet but a very satisfying jam nonetheless.

This is where things took a pleasingly unexpected turn toward the obscure, with a trio of Ya Mar, Horn, and My Friend, My Friend. The pace of the set slowed down considerably, but for any aficionado these three are probably going to be the highlight of the 1st set. No jams on any of these, just straight-up versions of the songs, but damn! That was fun.

A set-closing Run Like an Antelope was a perfect way to round out this unique 1st set, which brought back the high energy from the early part of the set. I distinctly heard Trey play a segment of the Dead’s “Shakedown Street” during the jam, and I was hoping they would tease in more of it but that didn’t happen.

2nd set opener: Down with Disease – yes! They’ve been nailing this song all year and this version held up to that standard and then some. The jam went into some interesting territory, getting into a kind of space-jam territory morphing into pure beauty. Page moved to his piano and took over for a bit until Trey started making his guitar sing a hauntingly beautiful sound, like the call of a whale in the deep ocean. I loved this part. They got more psychedelic and then started into a sweet rock groove.

Twenty Years later was a nice follow-up to the jam – solidly played.
Carini! Always a favorite, and holy smokes did this one deliver. This was one for all-time, folks. The jam went into utterly satanic territory (in the best of ways), getting more and more psychedelic and evil territory by the minute. Fish was busting out tribal beats on the skins…Mike was using his pedals to great effect…Page summoned demonic sounds on keys and suddenly Trey was making his guitar wail. It was insane and I loved it. And then a segue into the next song…what could it be?

Backwards Down the Number Line? Really? Yep! And wow, it worked. It was like catharsis to the evil that had just been laid down. An unexpected turn of events to say the least – I don’t think there was a single person listening who could have predicted that as a follow up. But it was well played and returned back to the theme of reflecting on the past that started with “Twenty Years Later.”

Then it was into a knee-slapping version of Julius, complete with some insane shredding by Trey at the end of the jam before turning back into the final chorus. Trey was smiling from ear to ear during this song and was clearly pleased with what was transpiring on stage and was happy about it.

A set-closing Slave to the Traffic light was beautifully played and more catharsis after such a scorching version of Carini earlier in the set.

For the encore, Harry Hood! Unreal. A song that represents Phish in a single song to cap off a night

The show finished off with a version of Show of Life, as ever an anticlimactic finish as there could have been afer such a perfect “Hood,” which probably should have been the one and only encore song given its length and how well it was played. But I can forgive this one and only oversight of the show.

Overall, this evening represents what makes a Phish show so great - the unpredictable nature of it all, where you can feel like you're in the deepest depths of purgatory (in Carini), then they pull you out and land you in the midst of bliss and happiness (in pretty much everything played after that.) I’m smiling from ear to ear.


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