Boy, Mann.

The Mann '14 (Andrea Nusinov)

The Mann ’14 (Andrea Nusinov)

Phish continued their summer onslaught with two very different second sets at the Mann on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Philadelphia. Tuesday’s showcase was chock full of creative improv, including the unquestionable jam of the tour thus far in a stunning, long-form rendition of “Fuego.” Wednesday night’s second set was highlighted by another in the recent line of exploratory, wide-open “Chalk Dust” jams, but was played in more straight forward fashion following the top-shelf opener. Instead of analyzing the shows as individual performances, let’s look at the overall musical takeaways from Phish’s stand the the City of Brotherly Love.

Mann Poster (LandLand)

Mann Poster (LandLand)

Any discussion of Mann highlights must start with “Fuego.” Phish drastically matured their newest springboard from its first to its second outing, unfurling one of their elite modern jams out of the brand new piece. Phish’s late-career musical re-development has led them to this type of wide-open, thematic excursion. The band demonstrated ultimate on-stage comfort as they calmly navigated this deeply exploratory adventure. The music was orchestral in nature and carried a very free, yet refined vibe. Trey carved out gorgeous melodies—delicate portals to heaven—as the band engaged in a jam that could only have been played in 2014. No rush, total comfort, and flowing as single course from start to finish while fluidly rolling through distinct improvisational ideas. “Fuego” is not only Phish’s newest jam, it is a launch pad to a new type of jam—patient, sprawling, free form journeys that move between developed themes. These are the jams that many of us dreamt of when we thought about Phish playing as the guys neared age 50. Each band member led different parts of this excursion, all with utmost nuance and subtly, forming a wholly collaborative endeavor. And just as one thought Phish would bring this jam to a huge crescendo like SPAC’s version, Trey led the troops out the back door and into the most intricate groove throwdown we’ve heard this tour. The Mann’s “Fuego” was pure, long form Phish genius, and all signs point to more stunning journeys from Phish’s newest monster.

Phish delved into a late set-run in Tuesday night’s show—“Ghost > 2001 > Harry Hood”—that absolutely demolished. Though Trey fought tooth and nail to get the band out of a “Tweezer” jam and into “Ghost,” once he got them there the band gained liftoff. Trey has been playing with revitalized dexterity this tour, featuring clean, multi-note runs that sound especially awesome in juxtaposition to his extensive whammy experimentation last year. Additionally, Trey has drenched his playing in original melodic phrasing has provided a powerful lead of so many Summer jams. The Mann “Ghost” combined both of these trends into a soaring piece of music that served as the night’s most profound peak. Any thoughts of a lopped off “Tweezer” vanished in this dizzying, highlight-reel “Ghost,” a second keeper from the Mann’s opening night.

The Mann (Andrea Nusinov)

The Mann (Andrea Nusinov)

And “Harry Hood” was the third. The second, deeply improvisational version in as many performances this tour punctuated a stellar set of Phish. And the beauty of this “Hood” was its absolute tenderness—a total juxtaposition to the flowing psych rock of Mansfield’s standout rendition. The Mann “Hood” saw the band delve into an immersive conversation within a stunningly delicate milieu, and they came up with yet another nugget of improvisational gold to end a very impressive frame of music. After an extensive rain delay pushed the start of the second set beyond 11 pm, the band made sure that the entire night was worth any inconvenience that people had been through.

The Mann (A.Nusinov)

The Mann (A.Nusinov)

Wednesday’s night’s second set kicked off with another top-shelf jam—something we have come to expect from the band on a nightly basis— in “Chalk Dust Torture.” Following in the footsteps of Dick’s 13’s and MSG 13’s versions, the Mann “Chalk Dust” featured many different segments of improv, however this one was notably more fluid as it morphed between feels. This jam carried an uptempo rhythm throughout, and the band seemed to surf a musical wave in whatever direction it would take them without truly developing any single section for too long. This type of protean jam has become a modern trend with “Chalk Dust,” and provides a stylistic contrast the band’s more singularly focused improvisations. (Note: They certainly have taken “Chalk Dust” in the mono-thematic direction such as Dick’s 12, but more often than not its jams fit this description.) Spanning several feels, Mann’s version’s provided a tasting menu of Phish sounds, all connected with a single thread.

Several other jams provided sub-highlights of the run. “Twist’s” tight rendition featured mini flourishes in different directions, but each time returned to structure, much like a jazz take on the song. “Mike’s Song,” though not extensive, featured more active interplay between Trey and Page, and didn’t simply default to a guitar solo. Could this be a sign of things to come? One can only hope. Each show saw one significant first set highlight each night—Tuesday, “Tube” and Wednesday, “Wolfman’s Brother.” Both pieces featured a developed jam that moved beyond convention and gave a burst of energy to otherwise routine frames of music.

All in all, the Mann was a very solid two-night stand. Whether you favor the more adventurous first show or the cleaner, more rocking second show largely depends on your stylistic preference. But whichever path Phish has chosen in each show of this short tour, whether jamming or rocking, they have executing it to near perfection. When looked at together, the two Philly shows demonstrated the yin and yang of live Phish.

7.5.14 SPAC (Chris LaJaunie)

7.5.14 SPAC (Chris LaJaunie)

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2,250 Responses to “Boy, Mann.”

  1. plord Says:

    Yeah, I am still hearing something up with Trey’s “new” tone and his control of it, and the Ross seems like the most likely culprit. I’m thinking he is going for big bends and 1) the Ross isn’t picking up the sustain when he moves the string off the pole of the pickup and 2) old hands make big bends tough, yo.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    @plord that’s a key difference between being in the room and those at home. A less jammy show with heavy grooves is super legit if you’re there but brings out the critiques from a distance

  3. roberto luongo Says:

    I love his tone in that SPAC Fuego plord

    1st time I really connected with that song

    only spun it once but thought it was more a hip tonal bend thing he was doing than runs in that jam though. whatever it was great coloring into the groove FIsh/Page were laying. killer jam. for some reason I thought it was more subtle tasty Trey. will revisit.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    I think the verdict was no major rig change but clearly a different approach in settings and usage.

    That sounds about right @plord

  5. plord Says:

    Joe I haven’t been down in front but from mid-pav it looks like the same amps. Old Mesa head, new Bogner cabinet. Speaker cabinets are painted? Recovered in new tolex? I’m not hearing changes I would attribute to a speake rchange, but you can’t tell that looking at the grill cloth.

  6. cal Says:

    I’m not saying I love the whale now. It still consistently ruins lots of things, particularly in first sets. Just that there’s a lot more different shit coming out of Trey’s guitar these days.

    Gdad, no secret I’m not into much of Fuego. Although I will admit after Randall’s I no longer detest Devotion To A Dream for some reason. Winterqueen, though, I think might be my new least favorite Phish song ever. To each!

    I personally think Randall’s Dust is a new level for 3.0. The back-and-forth tug between uneasiness and bliss is mesmerizing. To keep it up for that long is amazing. Doesn’t have anywhere near the dynamic swing of the old days but in a subtler way it’s just as far-reaching. So much tension just from withholding the bliss peak that you’re craving, but hinting at it over and over.

  7. roberto luongo Says:

    anyone here want a Ross clone? I have one from that Analogman cat that does Trey’s mods on his tube screamers. never use it.

  8. plord Says:

    RL I was thinking about the peak in the SPAC fuego, not the long path to get there. I want to say there were other tasty/fast picking moments in the first two SPAC shows but need to go back and listen. Been distracted by Randalls!

  9. jtran Says:

    “Not a Landlady fan… Least interesting part of Punch for me..”

    agreed @palms

  10. Fly Says:

    @plord Please shoot a text, I never got your number. Would love to see you on the lawn if that’s where you end up.


    Summer Tour ’14!!!!!


  11. jtran Says:

    “Something I’m not technical enough to really describe but I think I hear is Trey actual struggling to control certain notes that he has hit even pretty recently. But it sounds like it’s in spots where he’s playing with that hotter tone. Does that make sense? Like he’s opened things up a little and it makes certain nuanced notes hard to hit or hold, he starts off with the right note but it goes sour or dies before it should.
    I really don’t mean this as criticism since to my ears it sounds like he’s trying for something more difficult which is a welcome development”

    check the fuego from last night on fallon. he was running super hot, and probably not completely deeply dialed because of being on a soundtage, but lots of what you’re saying in his 2 fuego solos.

  12. dorn76 Says:

    This PYITE was a good one. The intro was something to behold.

    Set and setting.


  13. marcoesq Says:

    Randy Ghost legitted

  14. Joe Says:

    Guyute opener tonight.

  15. sumodie Says:

    Killer print for tonight!

  16. the Baker Says:

    I lost my phone & heard the LOVIN CUP close MPP 365+1days ago.
    Phish played Mr.Completely THEN SpreadITaround 365X11years ago.

    Enjoy your show(s)…I’m certain you will NOT have a problem doing so!

    Tonight’s my last show till MPP…what an Amazin two+weeks it has been.
    My phish-family Friends are ABSOLUTELY “the Best”!

  17. Kaveh Says:

    ^ Randall’s Ghost

  18. marcoesq Says:

    I love backhanded compliments.

  19. roberto luongo Says:

    def on for Detroit. time to work for the day.

    thanks for listening to my BS. all total nonsense but that’s how i roll. nice lil chat.

    these excel sheets aren’t going to finish themselves unfortunately. fuck.

  20. Stoney Case Says:

    Phish drops Ghost as the first ophishal Randall’s video. Cuz they know what’s up sometimes.

  21. bearito Says:

    So did Phish inc. move to You Tube for official vids rather than Vimeo?

  22. plord Says:

    Hoping to dodge the Guyute.

    Mike’s seems likely. I’m ok with that.

    With covers back in the mix, Cities tonight.

    Feeling a Mike tune beyond 555…Weigh would be funny in the middle of a thunderstorm.

  23. SOAM Says:

    what’s happening to phish, and this is nothing new, is that they have this huge bucket of great songs they never play and a huge bucket of tunes they play too much. thank god covers are back b/c what would have happened would have had them playing same songs 6-7 times a tour where other get no play…there are shitloads of great tunes that don’t get a look…little scrambled but I think you get the gist..oh and they also have a format that is so like the dead’s it’s uncanny. First set, short dance tunes, first half second set , exploration/some jams, ballad slot, short rockers, encore…It’s kind a like what Hornsby said about playing w the dead, they are known for improv but shows are predictable..Tube in the encore slot is unique BUT….How about a golden age<tweezer opener? I don't know…they are still playin great but the tour is half done and they have played some songs 3 times already….lets get some variety in the lists…lets let a few of them lie for a while…..lets get freaky deaky, cmon baby lets go downtown opener?

  24. SOAM Says:

    also question=what ghost is better, the one from Randy’s or the one from a few years back Nye at MSG (Maybe 12-30)?

  25. plord Says:

    Sumo, link to the print?

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