Back At Home Again

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

Philadelphia Phish – there ain’t nuthin’ like it! As the band hit the first show of their major east coast arena run, they rolled out two sets of top-notch playing and a setlist that bordered on make-believe. With no filler in either frame, the band threw down a full-length party at the Wachovia Center last night. With a first set filled with rarities, and improv strewn throughout both sets, Phish slaughtered what has to be considered the strongest full show of the fall.

11.21.09 (W.Rogell)

11.21.09 (W.Rogell)

When looking at it on paper, last night’s first set appears to have been written by an online fan listing the songs he wanted to hear. With six songs appearing for the first time this fall, including “Camel Walk” for the first time since their return, the opening frame felt completely fresh and energetic. Throughout the entire set, and show, Phish sounded as good as they have all year, completely on point and flowing with their seeming effortless nature of lore. Nailing song after song as if they were mere calisthenics, the band was clearly overjoyed to be back in Philly again. Wearing a Flyers jersey throughout the set, Trey continued his guitar acrobatics, leading the band through a “Chalk Dust” opener and splashing into an early “Bathtub Gin.” With the first “Gin” of tour coming right at the beginning of the show, one immediately got the feeling that things were on for the evening – and that inclination turned out completely accurate. With tasteful, contained improv, the band took command of the audience right away, peaking “Gin” with a fury and eliciting a massive ovation after the fact. With the liquid funk of “Cities” and “Camel Walk,” Phish quickly found themsleves amidst one of their most exciting first sets of the year, and as they dropped into “The Curtain (With)” things only kept building. Taking their hallowed composition indoors for the first time since Fall 2000, the band floated floated into a virtually note-perfect “With,” where the band showcased both their compositional and improvisational chops. And we somewhere in the middle of the opening frame.

11.18.09 (M.Stein)

11.18.09 (M.Stein)

Following the the dancy combination of “Wedge,” “Moma,” Phish dropped the first “Reba” of tour, and this time, there wouldn’t be any flubs. In a spectacular rendition, Phish not only nailed a note-perfect composed section, they offered delicate smorgasbord of groove highlighted by unbelievably expressive soloing by Trey within a locked down band dynamic. A stunning overall version led into the seeming set closer of “Golgi,” but Phish wasn’t done just yet. Tearing into the burliest “Faulty Plan” to date, the band stretched the song into a growling dose of arena rock to close the set.

The Wachovia center buzzed with excitement at setbreak – everyone knew that they sat in the eye of the storm. Whatever came next, if one thing was for sure, it would be fire. Turning things on end, the band came out with their usual set-closer of “Possum” to kick off the second set. Building off its Cincinnati incarnation, this version followed a more boisterous path, forming a surprisingly spunky opener. Setting the table for something big, the band entered a section of ambient noise out of which emerged the tour’s second “Disease.” The only current Phish song that guarantees a completely open, type-II adventure, last night’s knocked the socks off the Philly audience. Akin in texture to Detroit’s version, the exploration piece built collaboratively into another piece of next-level jamming. Following an organic path into a blissful plane, Phish brought “Disease” way out into a finely woven psychedelic silk carpet ride through the universe. Getting into some completely original and textured group playing, this jam developed into a no-brainer highlight of the tour – and of the year. Certainly the the song of the moment, the band soared built a creative opus last night featuring both groovy and melodic abstractions that provided the one of the most indelible musical moments of 2009. Take a listen for yourself – as soon as possible! As Phish played the introspective excursion to its natural conclusion, they morphed from the sonic fallout into “Twenty Years Later.”

11.18.09 (M.Stein)

11.18.09 (M.Stein)

Played for only the third time ever, this song provided a mystical landing point for the majesty of “Disease.” Lyrically poignant and musically different than most Phish songs, it was good to hear the band feature their new song in a central position once again, and it worked great. Keeping the surprises coming, the band rolled, without hesitation, into a mid-second set “Harry Hood.” Sculpting a heart-tugging, cathartic epic, this version embodied pure hoodness to the hood degree. With sublime full-band interplay, and the continued masterful playing of Trey, this centerpiece “Hood” reached triumphant levels and exploded in one of those peaks that could inspire the world. This first incarnation of the tour provided a mega-jolt of energy to the middle of the show, which carried right over into the second “Mango” of the year, and into the unheard of combo, “Hood,” Mango,” “Mike’s!”

11.18.09 (M.Stein)

11.18.09 (M.Stein)

Firing up their aggressive musical suite, the opening licks of “Mike’s” likened aural crack, knowing that we would soon be immersed in the wrath of Phish. Being indoors seems to be allowing the band to reconnect with the ethos of “Mike’s,” as they crafted a version whose bombast and full-on improv built on Detriot’s version in a snarling tale of horror. A nuanced and well-connected “Simple” provided a gorgeous interlude into “Slave?!” For the second time in three “Mike’s Grooves,” the band has inserted their divine build, one-upping Cincy’s centerpiece into arguably the most awing version of the year. Playing the initial section through with hardly a beat, the band came together like a four-headed monster in a version that fit right into the flow of the evening. And a “Slave,” “Weekapaug” show-closing combo doesn’t get much better – unless Trey to decides to instruct the band to drop into half-time to create an incredibly danceable set of grooves instead of the usual speed-rock of “Weekapaug.” Out of left field, Phish sprinkled one last dose of creativity to this show, creating an original take on a classic. As Trey sang, “Still trying to make a woman match your mooove…” all things seemed right in the world of now matured world of Phish. With a start-to-finish blowout, Phish returned to Philadelphia in fine style approaching the mid-week holiday with a show that immediately upped the ante for tonight and the rest of the tour. Ready or not, here they come!

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Bathtub Gin, Cities, Camel Walk, The Curtain With, The Wedge, The Moma Dance, Reba, Golgi Apparatus, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

II: Possum > Down with Disease > Twenty Years Later, Harry Hood, The Mango Song, Mike’s Song > Simple > Slave to the Traffic Light > Weekapaug Groove

E: A Day in the Life

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1,014 Responses to “Back At Home Again”

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  1. BK Says:

    Great review! Didn’t think I could get even MORE eager to hear this show

  2. Birddog Says:

    Looks amazing

  3. Little Buddy Says:

    Nice write up, Miner. I am very very very jealous that I missed this show. Sounds like the playing lived up to the all-star set list. I seem to have forgotten a long standing rule – never miss a Philly Phish show. D’oh! See ya in Albany!

  4. Little Buddy Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=7oOItcEsq-E

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    i had a dream last night that Phish announced they would play three sets tonight….

    The first set was the entire Rift.

    The middle set they played the Vince Guaraldi Trio Charlie Brown Holiday album. (it was a dream so i dont know?)

    The third set was……….the full gamehenge.

    at the end of my dream Trey fell on the stage laughing out of pure joy, so Page explained that this 3 set show was the only way they could top the magic of last night.

  6. Leo Weaver Says:

    As usual, thanks for the great write-up Miner…may have to give this one a spin as I head into the wilds of South Cackylack for turkey day.

    @silly…nice dream. Nothin’ wrong with a little Vince G my man! (That’s actually the wife’s favorite Christmas album…I’ll hear it a hundred times in the next month!). And I might even take some Britney if it was sandwiched between Rift and Gamehenge!

  7. ThePigSong Says:

    Wow! Amazing write up! “hoodness to the hood degree” love it.

  8. ThePigSong Says:

    for the first time in my life I wish I lived in Philly/south jerz.

  9. SillyWilly Says:

    hey, Leo!

    i didn’t write back to say thanks for the suggestions on a phish barrymore show until late last night, and i wanted to make sure you got a thanks for it.

    i love the Vince G. stuff, too. id love to hear page’s take on some of the piano parts on the album

  10. Ziggymon Says:

    Miner, much like Phish, your writing has certain taken it to the next level.

    “Phish brought “Disease” way out into a finely woven psychedelic silk carpet ride through the universe”

    Great stuff and litteraly has me giggly like a little school girl this morning. Can’t wait for Albany and Portland.

    Look out for the second set Birds of a Feather Open tonight!

  11. henrietta Says:

    Good review Minor. I can’t wait to hear it. What time was the no spoilers link updated with the other shows?

  12. msbjivein Says:

    Another Killer write up Miner!! Can’t wait to listen, especially DWD, MIke’s!

  13. Brimley Says:

    1)”Phish brought “Disease” way out into a finely woven psychedelic silk carpet ride through the universe.”
    2)” the opening licks of “Mike’s” likened aural crack”
    3)”in a snarling tale of horror.”

    Miner- I don’t know if you remenber those old Bud commercials, but “I love you man”! These choice quotes are the reason that I check with you first thing every morning with my cup a joe to see what sort of creative sorcery you lay on us…I can’t imagine what the Garden is going to bring…I just listened to some of the highlights from Detroit through ‘Cuse and the playing, dare I say, reminds me more of the older days again…Next time you walk out on TTE, think about Coventry or not having this dope band at our disposal…Happy Thanksgiving all!

  14. Opiefan Says:

    looks awesome….hey how come none of these shows have been posted on no spoilers?? I thought they were gonna be ready by noon the next day?? Am I looking in the wrong spots!? thanks

  15. notkuroda Says:

    “Phish dropped the first “Reba” of tour, and this time, there wouldn’t be any flubs. In a spectacular rendition, Phish not only nailed a note-perfect composed section, they offered delicate smorgasbord of groove highlighted by unbelievably expressive soling by Trey within a locked down band dynamic”

    this makes me smile, I’ve been waiting for a great Reba this whole year. I’ve heard a couple good ones, yet to hear a GREAT one

  16. HarryHood Says:

    Did anyone else catch the MSG ticket release yesterday? I posted on here right when I realized it was happening. I ended up with Sec 77 Row A on Wed night! Thursday was also onsale (Same Section) and I thought I had tix for that night as well, but apparently screwed something up.

  17. BTB Says:

    I smacked my forehead last night around 11:45pm when I checked the set list! D’oh is right. That show looks like a monster. Wow, can’t wait to listen to that. Great write-up.

  18. HarryHood Says:

    Anyone need a pair of MSG Wed night? Sec 215 Row B.

  19. johnny the boy Says:

    sicksicksick show. i was a little…altered…but if memory serves there was a dead stop in weekapaug, then it down-shifted to the aforementioned sloppy dance groove.

    and @ThePigSong…don’t make me get my jersey on. i wouldnt live anywhere else.

  20. gratefulcub Says:

    I did both Cincy shows, and I am going to MSG for two…..

    So, I thought it would be impossible to make me jealous. Congratulations Philly, I hope you enjoyed the best phish show in many many years.

  21. punkmug Says:

    I did not get to check the set list until the second set was already almost complete. When I read that first set I and what had already happened so far in the second, I pretty much jizzed in my pants. (sorry to get so graphic, but I’m just sayin) wow. Simply wow.

  22. randomreader Says:

    Mr. M – whence the title for today’s post? Are you originally from the area? Or just obliquely noting that these shows are the closest thing to hometown shows for Mr. Big Red?

    Anyway, this is the LAST time I pass on an opportunity to see Phish. With some difficulty I could have rearranged things so as to see them last night, but I chose the path of least resistance. DECISION FAIL.

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    the best show may be the next show, but the worst show is the one you miss. especially when it looks like this one. even just listening to the crappy stream last night you could tell how good of show this was.

    Phish Destroys Philadelphia, Episode I

  24. Andrew Says:

    The continual build of excitement and anticipation will only continue to grow throughout this tour, in turn feeding massive explosive energy to the band and music, sending everything deeper into the groove and once again the next show will be the best show.

  25. SillyWilly Says:

    i just wanted to comiserate with everyone who is beating their head against the wall because they couldnt be there last night. i have a big bruise on my forehead.
    we missed something really big, but no worries plenty of Phish left. the way this tour is going we have to say that the next show is going to be better than the last. seems impossible, but thats when phish is at their best – when we think they couldn’t possibly surprise us again they will.

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