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”

  1. Boris Says:

    @ neemor

    i know the vibe here well…this is just how i am…although i will say you guys have toned down on the whole since last year…

    i remember myself and others getting lambasted for saying anything remotely critical about phish, and that is just absurd

  2. Robear Says:

    Hey Uncle Eb! MSG?

    Good night all! Give thanks!

    Likely a well played show…Not everyone’s favorite set-list. To me it says, ‘see you in Albany, have a nice time with the family.’ I’ve listened to most of the sets, starting with Cobo. I’d say they’re really on a real roll, and giving lots of love and attention to every song.

    That encore’s for the Colonel, from ‘He who should sing more’

  3. BlackAmoebaVoidBoy Says:

    @ Silly Willy: Hope you found you found your own space to play in. Caught some earlier threads and just wanted to help you along. Did you groove on Indio?

    Loving the PT lately. So much fun luv’n going on.

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    this year has been my first year with a Phish that actually exists (i knew about them pre-Coventry, but i wasnt turned on yet) and I just want to say that it still hasnt worn off for me yet. everynight the tour makes me so happy because for 5 years i felt that i missed the boat.

    i love hearing everyones thoughts because its like im adding experience that i could never get without you guys. anyway, i think this board is a special place and we should take care to protect our little environment. (protect from what? i dont know. maybe just bad vibes or phantasytourness)

    felt i needed to say that.

  5. Boris Says:

    good for you Willy

    have you seen them yet?

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    yeah twice in cinci and chicago this summer

    and im sorry boris if it seemed i was reacting to your comments. i wasnt. i just read what cal said and it made me think of my own situation

  7. cal Says:

    We need an old-fashioned Napoleonic wargame table, “TTE”s vs. anti-“TTE”s!

  8. BlackAmoebaVoidBoy Says:

    My first show was Indio… I was totally amazed… heard almost every song I could list… it was a blow by blow. I caught Conventry via HD Satellite feed. Not a bad way to go, given the circumstances. Indio was a far more enjoyable blend.

  9. halcyon Says:

    llfa Cal…..

  10. Boris Says:

    no worries man…glad you got to see them…it is definitely a unique experience

    i am still hoping to see them at least one more time

    my last show was cypress

  11. neemor Says:

    I know I, for one, will jokingly rag on things like Coventry or a lagging set, but am fiercely defensive about the Phish.
    I love that the vibe of the conversation fit the show tonight.
    I’ve always noticed that when Phish comes on as background music at a house party or the like, the conversation will subconsciously turn to a weird or deep or funny or flowing vibe, based on the song playing.
    Just like in here.
    Great show (setlist) last night, really positive chatter. Smiles and high fives all around!
    Questionable setlist tonight, defensive, attacking conversation….
    It just means that we’re fans of varied backgrounds and degrees, exactly what makes this Phish thing what it is.
    Again, weird night.
    I like most of those songs, some-a lot, but I think we all probably fell guilty of expecting this one to wash over us like last night did and it just seemed to be a bit more rocky.
    The lack of segues (>) stands out like a white elephant in the room, though….

  12. SillyWilly Says:

    TTE’s get submarines!

  13. William H. Bonney Says:

    They have so much else to offer. Seems silly to get hung up on TTE. Yeah old fashioned Napolenic war sounds good. Would fit with my Mozart v. Emperor Joesph II quotes.

  14. Kevin Says:

    Interesting setlist, that’s for sure. It looks a bit disjointed (it happens, especially when the band drops setlists like they did the first few nights of the tour). There just wasn’t a whole hell of a lot to choose from catalogue wise that would make everyone happy.

  15. ThePigSong Says:

    No idea if Halleys was “out there”. There was a 22 minute gap between tweets when halleys showed up, I just figured it was extended.

  16. Boris Says:

    Anit-TTE’s get Demonic Beasties

  17. SillyWilly Says:

    yeah, Boris.

    Im sold now. I think I was sold when i first heard the new years eve 1995 from msg five years ago.

    it was bittersweet discovering phish but knowing id never get to see them

  18. William H. Bonney Says:

    @Boris Cypress was last show. Hard to top that. Why no shows since?

  19. Boris Says:

    funny you should say that Willy

    i was sold on NYE 95 as well…back in 98

    my buddy brought over the VHS and during the reba i was completely floored…jesus…what a long time ago

  20. BlackAmoebaVoidBoy Says:

    97 was the year for me. The Story of the Ghost from Nov 11/17/97… Went as the Story of the Ghost for Indio out of the greatest respect and admiration.

  21. cal Says:

    So hard, sometimes, to get your exact inflection across on the damn internet, ain’a? Willy, holy crap man, I’m no guru, but I will say that even though there are 2.0 defenders (and yeah, there were some good times), you jumped in at a perfect time! You got “Curtain With” and “Carini” in your first show???? And I am a staunch defender of Toyota Park, with all its discombobulation and a bit of slop, it was the first truly evil show of 2009 and I was BASKING…anyway, I’m rambling, and I know when I hit “submit comment” it’ll be way too late as usual, but it sure is fun to BS with all you kind folks…

  22. neemor Says:

    Alright guys, Happy Thanksgiving.
    I hope everyone eats a lot of Turkey (or whatever type of ‘urkey’ your ‘people’ eat on this holiday) and falls asleep from the turkey drugs.
    Gobble gobble.
    Seriously, I thank Icculus this holiday for this gathering….you guys are all ‘aces’ in my book!
    See you on tour!

  23. SillyWilly Says:

    the reba……thats how i hooked my little sister who i took to cinci.

    i think i was intrigued by the gamehenge songs in the early part of the show. i wanted to know how the story went.

  24. William H. Bonney Says:

    NYE 95. That is one we can all get with it. Great show. My first NYE show. Saw first three night of 94 holiday run but couldn’t make NYE. So made sure that didn’t happen next time around.

  25. Boris Says:


    just life getting in the way basically…i got off of phish for a few years as well

    radiohead became my passion, and still is…

    all criticism aside, nothing makes me happier than to hear phish recently. they are playing well again and i honestly didn’t think it was going to happen…but it really is a beautiful thing

    plus it is fall, fall and phish go together like peanut butter and jelly!

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