, attached to 2003-02-16

Review by n00b100

n00b100 I obviously haven't checked out every setlist page on .net (though given my periods of unemployment and time-killing during law school, I've covered a fair share of ground), but I would hazard a guess that this show features a rating least commensurate with the show's actual quality. You look at those stars and see a typical show from Summer 1996; you put the show on your headphones and hear a show every bit as good as its Winter 2003 brethren. In fact, I would go as far to say that I consider it my favorite show of that fabulous tour, and second in 2003 only to IT Night 1.

Set 1 kicks off with Bowie, already a sign that the band's gonna get down to some serious business, and this is a sharp Bowie that catches a sweet groove at the 10 minute mark and morphs into quicksilver hazy bliss (a hallmark of 2003), then makes a fine return to the classic Bowie jam. The band churns out a thick, dark groove for a few minutes, makes room for Catapult, and then bursts back to the main Bowie theme for a fine finale. But lest you think they'd gotten all the first set jamming out of their system, there's a very good rendition of the now-forgotten Round Room that beautifully peters out in typical 2003 fashion, super-rarity Golden Lady (which I wouldn't mind hearing again), and a fine set-closing Pebbles and Marbles that lets Trey cook, so to speak (and lets him hint ever so gently at DWD, to my ears). That's a darn fine 70 minutes of music right there.

Set 2, as @waxbanks points out, takes on some of the shared qualities of the segue-fests of old, but with a true 2.0 feel. DWD starts up the set, and this is a perfectly good DWD (analogous to, say, 12/11/99's version) that rocks hard before simmering down and slowly, sneakily winding its way into Seven Below (albeit with a key change needed to get into -7 proper). Seven Below, one of the many reasons why 2.0 cannot be dismissed, gets a very nice relaxed reading here, with Page showing off his chops in fine fashion, and the band throws in a DEG tease just for funsies. Then, after making their way back to the Seven Below theme, Trey gets a neat idea and fires up Ye Olde DWD Theme, and the band makes a proper return to DWD. It's a fine piece of business (if not quite as truly dramatic as 12/29/13's brilliant DWD -> jam -> DWD), and wraps up a tremendous opening act to the set.

Anything But Me gives the band a breather, then we get the real meat of the set in a standout Piper from an era where Piper really found its legs as a set-making vehicle. The band immediately whips up a propulsive, heady brew in the Piper jam (another hallmark of 2003), with that new guitar tone helping to add to the jam's raw power. Trey starts snapping off chords as Page gives the ivories a good tickling, and things settle (if that's the word) into an upbeat, peppy jam as Page moves to the organ and Mike starts making his presence felt. The groove starts getting more and more minimalist, with Fish's busy drumming really keeping the pace, and Trey starts playing more optimistic chords as Fish goes to the hi-hats. Then, just as one fine broad wink to the audience, Trey picks out the DWD theme yet again, and we get one final rush before the jam amusingly slides into Makisupa. This is a fine companion piece to (again) 12/29/13's in-the-pocket Carini, and an A+ jam. Everything else is standard, but that hardly matters.

Final thoughts: an absolutely classic show. The first set is very accomplished, even for an era where first sets were often quite strong, and the second set features a deservedly highly recommended jam and a glorious DWD -> -7 -> DWD sandwich. I know 2.0 has a contentious reputation, and can often get a bad rap, but if you can put that aside there's no shortage of riches in those two years. 2/16/03, in my opinion, is one of the most precious jewels in that treasure chest.


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