, attached to 2012-12-28

Review by Fondue

Fondue This Sure Isn’t MSG 2011 Part 1

I made it to my seat under the retired number 10 of Walt “Clyde” Frazier later than I wanted, but whatever. I’m back in the Garden, and that’s all that matters. If I were Clyde, I’d probably say “Phish is absolutely astounding and rebounding tonight, an auspicious beginning, showcasing a mellifluous style on the Garden floor compared to the last time we saw them in the building…” (Listen to a Knick’s broadcast some time, he’s really something).

For those who don’t know the venue so well, these seats put me on Rage Side, just off said-Rager’s right shoulder, and in the second section up off the floor. So, no pretty light show for me, but I can see the entire band, and more or less make out their expressions and see their interplay.

Title aside, I kinda liked the first show last year. I had fun and still spin Cities every now and again… But this was so clearly not last year in just about every single regard. This year is the first time MSG’s done a GA floor, and maybe that was enough. From my catbird seat, I could see the entire first row, a long stretch of arms pushing up against the rail, and lots of dancing bodies giving the band something to feed off of. And at the end of the night, people just didn’t want to leave. It was like Denver was just the other night and not three and a half months ago… I digress.

The lights went down around 8.20, the usual cloud of smoke went up, and Phish started with four standard renditions, though imo very laid back. Lots of discussion on stage between tunes. Felt a little like Phish on random, but still fun. Tube was the first that threatened a little bit. Slightly extended, but not in the what-are-we-doing way of AC earlier this year. Just as I thought they might do something different with this, they settled into the biting four-on-the-floor bridge, and then to Stash, which is worth a listen as it gets kinda tasty at the end. But then there’s Wolfman’s. It’s just flat out great start to finish, and pretty much left everyone around me happy and looking forward to set 2.

…Wow. This was the band telling us we heard you, and we knocked the dust off before coming to New York. It was all there – fantastic exploratory improv, a fairly tight rendition of arguably one of their hardest composition pieces, and all the flow absent from set 1. Tweezer’s a killer, fun, flowing, exploratory, total must-hear, and then into Maze. Listen to that one right around where Page starts his solo. Trey lets him go, then starts interjecting chords and rhythms that just push Page crazier and crazier. All I could think was, ‘dude, you have to solo after him. You better rip it up.” It was, in fact, ripped up. Classic machine-gun Trey. I gotta go back and re-listen to Mike to see what he was doing, I was so fixated on Page and Trey. Speaking of, this Twist won’t replace others from ’12, but Mike lays it down start to finish. Okay, fun enough Fluff, but then Bowie. When Chicago ’94 came out, the Bowie on there reminded me of how interesting that tune used to be. Tonight’s got some of that going on in the back half, way better than the other two I caught this summer, and what a GREAT set closer. My lady-friend called GTBT, insisting she heard it teased in Bowie. She’s wrong, but cute, so it’s cool.

So, so, so, so not last year. The best holiday show of 2011 was on January 1st, not December. Who cares? I still had fun last year, but tonight was just another level. Lotto was good to me for a change, I got 28, 30 and 31… I’ll spare you a couch-review on the 29th and see ya in a few days, .net!


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