, attached to 2003-01-02

Review by fhqwhgads

fhqwhgads The band sounds really rarin' to go in this second return to the stage as Phish of the post-hiatus (2.0) era! Chalkdust ranges over some very interesting peaks and valleys, including an ambient/space type of jam that features Trey in full-on Hendrix effects mode and just the barest taste of Page's Moog Little Phatty before a return to the Chalkdust climax. With the hindsight of 3.0 now fully in swing, it's tempting to compare Fish's performance in this show with his more gradual return to peak form over these past 7 years, but what's the use? (I do want to note that Mike sounds more engaged here than he seems to have been--in broad strokes--in the post-breakup (3.0) era.) Trey flubbed the lyrics to Chalkdust, but I think it must've been because he was so pumped to be jamming in the Phish context again, his first love. Gin is relatively laid-back but has some prominent Page clavinet action, and the Gin builds to a satisfying peak, albeit without a machine-gun Trey crescendo. BOTT, in a rare extended version, verges on Type II. I've grown less fond of Stash, for musicological reasons related to its modes or something that I don't fully understand, lately than I used to be, so let someone else tackle that one. As for the rest of the set, an observation that It's Ice evinces a respectable control of composed portions which would later be lacking in 2.0, and Round Room's debut is pulled off nicely, including a synthy outro.

46 Days, its debut at over 20 minutes, encompasses quite a few stylistic progressions, with an overall feel of the band seeming very comfortable with the tune already, which, like Suzy Greenberg is described by I think Fish in The Phish Book, is something along the lines of an excuse to jam. In retrospect, it's too bad Phish seem to have done all they really want to do with 46 Days as a showpiece for jamming, because I'm not a big fan of the song itself and the way it gets Type-I'd so much in 3.0 seems a disservice with this excellently jammed version in full view. Thunderhead and Mexican Cousin are also debuts... sure wish they'd bust out Thunderhead! This show overall proves that Phish still had it, that they could explore new spaces sonically in their Type-II excursions, and that they could--at this point--honor both the letter and the spirit of their more time-honed compositions from a technical standpoint. As an individual show but knowing that NYE had just occurred two nights before, I think they sound just a little bit tired, but I wouldn't dare say they sound rusty. I would absolutely have paid more attention during the two fleeting years of 2003 through 2004 if I knew we phans were facing a breakup, and I commit myself now to revisiting with more TLC a lot of the high points from those years in the future, because honestly, the "let's just jam" mentality is impossibly attractive to me, 3.0 notwithstanding.


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