Thursday, January 17, 2013

Live Review- Phish 12/29/12 MSG, NYC

As we mentioned last year, Phish has been much scaled back in RtBE's life from previous decades, but after catching 3 shows in 2012 it is safe to say they sound better now then they have since they came back as version 3.0. 

Rather then a normal review I will just mention the show highlights from our vantage point and do some looking back at the end.
Jon Fishman-  Our seats for the show were perched directly behind Fishman and it gave us a new way to watch the band.  What was most surprising was how controlled Jon plays drums; there seemed to be very little wasted movement even during his most complicated songs.  Watching him play "Limb By Limb" was pure joy as the band seems to follow him on that one, while watching him slap the hell out of the cowbell on "Suzie Greenberg" was smile inducing. It was really cool not focusing on Trey or Mike like usual and made the whole show unique.

"Mound"- This was our first "Mound" ever and while not high on the list of our favorite songs it still is a good one and fun to hear. 

"Reba" Yelling- While Noah was excited to hear his favorite Phish song, the fans were just flat out pumped! The section on "Reba" when the jam started saw the crowd go ballistic, it could have been because of a massive out pouring of glowsticks, but whatever the reason it drowned out the music completely.  Have never heard that kind of cheer at a show, let alone one that was almost out of nowhere.

"AC/DC Bag" > "Rock and Roll"- The musical highlight of the night came mid way through the first set when the band took a funky AC/DC Bag and segued beautifully into their cover of The Velvet Underground's "Rock and Roll". RnR focused in on upbeat interlocking play from the band and could have (no, should have) gone on longer.   

"Sugar Shack" Beat- This seemed to be everyone's least favorite song of the night (this or the "Crowd Control" opener) but as this was the first time we had heard the tune we were impressed with the calypso groove Mike and Fish were laying down.  We've reached the point that we don't care what song the band is playing as long as they are enjoying playing it and playing it well we will be happy.

Gordon's Space Bass in "Golden Age"- This is the first time we caught the band doing their TV On The Radio cover, and while it was ok, the bass effects Gordon was laying down were really noteworthy.  Ala Bootsy Collins with the Space Bass effect, very cool, here's hoping he keeps it going.

Breakdowns in "Boogie On Reggae Woman"- In discussing the bands best covers this one seems to always jump into my mind.  I have seen it a lot at shows and it never disappoints, wouldn't mind hearing them play it at every show I ever see from here on out.  Tonight's breakdowns were really cool and unique.

Set Closing "46 Days"- One of the better new songs the band has developed in recent times, but when we had caught it in recent years it seemed to have taken the place of "Down With Disease" as a longish layered jam vehicle. Tonight found the band crush the pedal down and just rock the fuck out of this tune and it was completely satisfying; cool to see the tune hold up under different styles.     

Overall the show was solid, with the first set being consistently better as the second set never really found a groove and the encore seemed played out of order.  Better to slam "First Tube" then end with "Squirming Coil" but these are just preferences. Good, tons of fun if not mind blowing, but still an engaging night of tunes most bands would kill for.    
Brief look back (cause we could do this all day)- The band is musically amazing on any level but fans can argue shows, years, venues all day.  Before this years show we were reminiscing at Billymark's West about past tours, shows, setlists (Congrats to Noah on show #75 this night) and We realized there will always be a soft spot in our heart for version 2.0.  I am guessing that the band probably hates those years with their drug problems and other outside influences, but there were many musical highlights, at least to our ears.

While keeping a shallower pool of total songs to play they had the feeling that any tune on any night could be special.  Case in point was the amazing "Get Back On The Train" from the 2-28-03 Nassau show.

Anyway, I found myself defending 2.0 over some Highlife's so I figured I would bring it here, do you like Phish version 2.0 or 3.0 better? Feel free to discuss and as always thanks for reading. 

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