, attached to 2013-10-29

Review by The_Judge

The_Judge This was a very strong show for several reason of which I will now explain, because my opinion is obviously essential and many have waited several days to read it. Sorry to have kept you.

First, the venue. Reading is a dump of a town. I should know, I have to work there on occassion. Trust me, it sucks, but that doesn't mean the venue is bad. As one who has seen Phish since 1990 in small bars, this size I really think fits them well. Not so big that your overwhelmed by the size of the venue and zeal is somewhat diluted, but not so small that you lose the spirit of an energized gathering of phans. Security was fairly laxed and friendly, parking was fine and traffic wasn't outrageous. The sound quality was ok, I guess, I'm not a good judge of that...I could hear everything.

Song Selection: I really enjoyed the song selection of this show, a good combination of rock, funk, country, progressive and trippy. As well as a nice pallatte of songs covering their whole career, including some acapella. I felt like I was back at a mid 1990's show. Throw in a couple of strong (and diverse) covers and you have a well crafted set list. Also, I'm not sure how often they play 3 of their most structured compositional songs in one show. Divided Sky, YEM and Reba all are some of their more complex classics that I think are in the Mt. Rushmore of Phish's Progressive compositional songs (a la Pink Floyd or Yes) with very structured, complex and long intro's. Can we get the Phish.net folks to research this??

SET ONE: Musically, I felt they were a bit restrained and more on the spacey side this set. CTB, Number Line, and Ginsing were all good starters, nothing truly memorable for me, but they were tight and Page and Mike seemed to be taking the lead. Wolfman's Brother is a great groove and certainly perked up the crowd. My expectations for this song (and I believe the crowds) are usually high, so when the jam went more to the soft and spacey side and then went back to the refrain, there wasn't much fanfare. I was very happy to hear Walk Away, just a great tune to cover. This version wasn't as strong as other Walk Away's Phish has done, but certainly a quality tune.
Divided Sky...well here are my thoughts. Divided Sky is like the worst blow job I ever had...it was awesome. DS is really just one of those standards that is always inspiring. That being said, there is a progression in the final jam. Sometimes they go through it 3 times, sometimes 5, sometimes 7...and when they go through that progression 7 times you know it! This was a restrained DS, I think only going through 3 serious progressions and i really feel Trey held back a bit. Now the pause with everyone holding the lighters (remember lighters flaring before encores???) was very very cool.
SOAM is another classic, but this jam got muddled and lost, and I think it never finished because they got lost in it and didn't know how to get back....does that make sense? I just felt the jam lacked cohesion. And I know SOAM gets to a point where things get lost, but then they find themselves and get back in a groove. It didn't seem to happen here.
Julius is simply a great tune, excellent jam and a strong way to end a set. Not much more to say other than it left the crowd hungry for the second set.

Second Set: I'll recap below, but if anyone truly thinks the first set even came close to the second set then they must have been up in the Pagoda.
DWD was outstanding! I don't know about anyone else, but because it was the show before Halloween, I was listening to jams wondering if I would hear hints of what they would play for Halloween. I swear I heard some very Doors-esque stuff from Paige, and then there was definitely an "I Know You Rider" Grateful Dead Europe '72 thing going on. Top notch DWD, that alone elevated the show.
Taste was very solid and had the crowd very pumped once completed. Then came 20 Years Later, a tune I admit I'm not as familiar with, and the opening definitely deflated the crowd....BUT man the jam was absolutely killer, redeemed the exhale of the intro. I'm looking forward to re-listening to this one. And from reading the comments above, apparently this was a stand out version.
Piper, BDTNL and YEM were all very good, not particular eventful but solid. YEM is a lot like Divided Sky, never bad, always satisfying.

Encore: REBA encore is about all you need to know. It was almost like getting a 3rd set. Thank God Reading lets you go until 11:45 instead of 11:30. Add a stellar Good Times, Bad Times and you have a damn good show

Best show of the tour?? I don't know? Only show on the tour I saw, and I loved it, especially the 2nd set and encore.


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