, attached to 2014-07-01


FACTSAREUSELESS This show, looked at in retrospect, was pretty average. In fact, without the boost of new songs and an epic, other-worldly Hood in the 4th quarter, it would be markedly below-average.

It's been surmised here that this opener was superior to other tour openers of recent times, but I heartily disagree with this sentiment. Worcester '12 proved to be one the best shows of the first leg of the tour that year, and Bangor '13, while suffering from some flow issues in the 2nd set, still boasted an excellent Antelope and nice Hood encore, as well as an opening jam (Golden Age) which garnered some discussion for its humble place among the year's top jams. Also, the first set in Bangor was extremely well-played and tight and was one of the best first frames of the year.

This show in Mansfield starts off with great energy, and right out of the gate hits for extra bases with the rockin' Stealing Time to open. Fuego fed off the pent-up anticipation and energy of the crowd, and while this version didn't reach the exploratory heights of its brethren at other venues, this one had the novelty of being new and fresh, well-played and really rocked. Back on the Train followed and Trey added some unique and interesting interpretations in this version that make it well worth checking out for fans of the tune.

After this, however, the set really bogged down badly. Halfway was a tentative, halting version; surprising since it has had the most play of any of the new material and yet it was as if they were playing it for the first time. The Wedge was okay. The band waited patiently while Fish got his timing together and then jumped in with both feet and thus ended anything interesting about this version.

The next handful of songs were marred by sloppy playing, timing mistakes (on the part of everyone) and general indecision. There seemed to be an interminable amount of time between songs as though they were genuinely surprised to find themselves before a live audience and kept forgetting that this wansn't a sound check. In fact, the whole first set, with the exception of the first few numbers, felt like a sound check.

The 2nd frame opened promisingly with a well-played and well-received Mike's. Some interesting interplay from Mike and Trey here with Trey foreshadowing the tour norm, playing with the Echoplex, giving this type 1 Mike's a pseudo type 2 feel. Simple followed and is an interesting version. Some near me had complained but I liked the Free that followed. It fit the vibe, was played with passion and worked. Waiting All Night was an odd choice for a cool down song, but I suppose its an odd song and will always feel that way no matter where they play it. The vocalization by the band in this number is hauntingly beautiful. I love the songs, such as Bouncing, If I Could, etc. in which the band shows off this talent of theirs for which they are greatly underrated.

Ghost starts next, and while atrociously botched to start off, it morphs into a nice, compact little workshop which eventually segues beautifully into Weekapaug, reminiscient of 12/30/13, with less intensity yet more fluidness.

This show at this point is smack in the average-Phish-is-always-awesome-but-better-luck-next-time category when HOOD HAPPENED.

It is difficult to describe the feeling which swept through the crowd as Hood went type 2, and the most exciting thing was you could feel it coming during the composed section of the song. As soon as Mike played with his forwarder, you could sense the boys felt dangerous and wanted to play. This could already be my favorite Hood of all time. I've heard it over 30 times by now and am more impressed with it each time I hear it. This Hood is a masterpiece of Phish at their best. Tone, tenor, timing, voice, it's all there in technicolor. The fact that it reared its head late in the 4th quarter of a show that felt truly like a "warm up" effort was all the more remarkable.

Cavern and the Julius encore were perfunctory cappers which put a nice explanation point on things. But make no mistake; this Hood is the goods and the show is worth the download if you get nothing else from it.


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