With another day of rest and relaxation, the Jones Beach show has gotten plenty of play on the tour iPod. After much review, my initial assessment holds true; the many high points of the night- “Timber,” “Cities,” “Reba,” “If I Could,” and “Harry Hood”- were incredibly high, while much of the second set was characterized by high-energy, yet relatively low-risk playing… No one can argue with “Mike’s Song” ever- it is part of the dark side of Phish- but it would be great to see the band dig into some true improv in the song. Post-’98, most “Mike’s” have fallen into the composed, guitar-solo jam structure, without a dive into the song’s deeper, exploratory second jam. I’m all about snarling Trey licks and uncompressed evil Phish grooves, but here’s to hoping that “Mike’s” gets the full treatment sometime soon…Not to harp, but the transitions between “Mike’s,” “Simple,” “Wolfman’s” and “Weekapaug” were noticeably forced and awkward, showing that there are still some kinks to work out. We have to remind ourselves that even though during some jams we are right back in the thick of things, it is still only the second show of a long summer.
But any thoughts of messy segues and composed jams were whole-heartedly erased by a paradigm-shifting “Harry Hood.” Taken in a completely new direction- morphing into ambient bliss- Phish opened up a plethora of possibilities for future “Hoods,” while more importantly, announced loudly and clearly that they are completely comfortable taking massive musical risks, and playing like there is no tomorrow. Incredibly exploratory, spiritual, and successful; it was as if the entire venue had a collective out-of-body experience during the jam- you could have heard a pin drop in there. The jaw-dropping musical result showed that the adventure-taking, cliff-diving band we loved so dearly is again coming to stage nightly.
Setlists are so interesting at this point, featuring many new songs interspersed with colossal versions of their heavy-hitting classics- it makes for an incredibly dynamic show experience… After a few listens, I am sure that “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan” is going to be huge. With a sound that begs for psychedelic exploration, I can’t wait to hear it placed in the context of a second set… Another on the list of impressive debuts over the first two shows, Phish seems armed with songs aplenty, heightening anticipation for their July 29th album release… It could be the best one yet…I still can’t get enough of the Fenway “Tweezer > Light”- epic in every sense of the word- one of those timeless welcome to tour jams that we will be listening to for years to come.
MIKE’S BIRTHDAY BASH
Although the band took the night off, Mike celebrated his birthday with a public party at City Winery downtown in New York City last night, performing two sets of music with Billy Kreutzmann and Scott Murawski. Consisting of mostly covers, the trio killed a quality show, improvising consistently as they ran through well-loved song after well-loved song. Before this all went down, rumors spread throughout the New York City area last night of a potential stealth Phish show at the same location. Yet when all was said and done, there was no Phish, but an intimate circle of fans that made their way downtown for a laid back night of music, food, and drink. The setlist to Mike’s “Birthday Bash” is below- (Incomplete)
Gordeaux, Kreutzmann, Murawski – 6.3.09 City Winery, NYC
I. Doin’ My Time, Eyes of the World > Cumberland Blues…
II: Peggy O, Tore Up Over You, Come Together > Skin it Back, US Blues, Express Yourself, Quinn the Eskimo, ?Tags: 2009, Summer '09