Generally, I have found that shows will crescendo in energy level and song selection throughout the first set to set things up for a stellar second set.  I’ve really gotta hand it to these guys: Phish did not fall privy to such an archetype for their first show of the year.  The pleasure plateau sustained and remained, if you will.

My Soul set the tone for a rockin’ start to the evening, while Tube provided a healthy dose of funk before a clean departure and rebound into the rock vibe.  A meaty Runaway Jim followed.

Mike laid the bass line down thick for the opening of Foam, as to illustrate the properties of the opaque (and apparently overwhelming) substance.  I love this tune because it’s almost erratic while it maintains a sense of cohesiveness.  Parts sound like a demented Latin groove.  Parts sound like an updated jazz standard while Page hoofs it on the keys.  And sometimes parts just sound like Phish.

Any way, I dig it.

And apparently the crowd did too.  The ground was absolutely shaking after it had ended – a sweet reminder that we were more than five stories off the ground.  Thanks for bringing me back to reality by scaring the shit out of me, MSG.

But it’s cool.  Guelah Papyrus helped me get through it.  The catchy fan-favorite went into a quirky, nonsensical jam and ended on an upbeat, followed by silence – well, would-be silence if the crowd hadn’t gone hog-wild.  Trey began the chorus once more and pulled it all together just in time for one of my personal highlights of the first set: Divided Sky.

Except for the long pause before the closing of the main phrase, the entire thing was sublime.  But I must pick the bone with this one: the pause is positively too long.  I understand and appreciate the artistic desicion to use a pause in the music, but leaving us hanging for a minute or more?  I’d rather not.

I like my melodies just as I like my 80’s pop: straight up.

In the name of Paula Abdul and all things holy, let’s just get on with our lives.

Anway, the lullaby segment continued softly, purely, sweetly, until Page broke in with an insistent key change that gave way to a rippin’ solo.

Round Room broke out of its 2003 capsule and paid tribute MSG’s oval shape and the Eagles made a guest appearance through an incredible Walk Away.  It was high energy, an engaging solo, and totally authentic-sounding.  I’ll bite.

A thunderous Reba and Walls of the Cave closed the first set with little shenanigans involved (well, on the band’s part).

Crosseyed & Painless opened the second set, and man, did it rock.  I recently just got over listening (and re-listening) to the Coral Sky release, but now it seems I’m back where I started.

Not only is this song fast-paced and fun, but it’s by one of my (other) favorite bands. If there’s a match made in heaven, it’s Phish and the Talking Heads (sorry, Little Feat).

Simple morphed into a light, ambient jam as if to say: and now for something completely different! For a while I was thinking maybe there would be a segue into Piper, but to no avail.  I’m pretty sure no one really knew what was going on, but I’m also pretty sure no one cared.  The sound was rich and new and beautiful.  Does anything else matter?

Next came Makisupa Policeman, a tune that seemed to hit home with quite a few members of the crowd.  I love how Trey always seems to come up with entertaining new lyrics (this time’s?  Went home late last night after doing the New Year’s stunt/Laid back on my couch and I rolled myself a bl– well, you know).  The audience collectively lolled.  It was marvelous.

Suddenly, the fast-paced tapping of a certain cymbal emerged through the murk – which meant David Bowie was about to go down.

And it was a great one.

After a truly unremarkable Fee, Page whipped out a keytar and decided it was time to rock.  It was Frankenstien that resonated with me for the rest of the night (maybe cause I couldn’t get over the keytar?).  The energy that had been displaced by an out-of-the-blue Fee reappeared, and everyone went home happy.



(Photo and video credits go to mkdevo, Dave Bayne & Dave Vann.)

Elizabeth loves all types of music (or at least the good ones). She can usually be found working for the weekend. For now, she bides her time in western Massachusetts until she can snatch a B.A. and scurry back to the Big Apple. Or maybe somewhere in Vermont.
Elizabeth Bayne
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