, attached to 2013-07-22

Review by andrewrose

andrewrose Well after 13 years and an extra two weeks following the first of many weather fiascos to plague this (strange?) tour, Phish finally make it back to Canada. It was my third show in my native land, following my only hometown (and first ever) show on 7/6/94, and the band's smoking appearance on 7/20/99. (I was sadly out of the country in 2000). But I wasn't going to miss this one. In fact I was lucky enough to enjoy the show from the front row, where I could get a pretty good idea of how things were unfolding for the band.

Before I dive into other details, let me say this: The 19 minute Down with Disease is a serious keeper! Definitely a must hear and a contender for jam of the tour thus far alongside the Crosseyed and Painless from PNC. After a somewhat shaky start to the actual song (and a bit of feedback) the band wails on the DWD theme for a bit before settling down nicely into exploratory mode and they just go off, weaving in and out of some beautiful themes and peaking with some glorious true hose two or three times before settling down.

Other than the Disease, I will say that I think we saw a pretty tired band this night, Trey especially. It's entirely understandable given what went down in Chicago, and the rescheduled show, but if anyone thought that Phish was going to roll in here all fired up and ready to bust things out and go wall to wall all night (ok, so I thought there was maybe an outside chance of a Foreplay/Longtime opener), they were sadly mistaken. Though I'm not one to dwell on it to much after the fact, I do find it strange just how small a palate they're working with in terms of song selection on this tour.

That said, it was great hear Undermind again, and was one of the first set highlights along with a pretty nice Stash and Twist. Nothing went too far out of the box but the band seemed patient, and Trey especially looked like he wanted to find his ground instead of just wailing (though he did fall back on the bluesy tension release jamming a few times at other points, as he often does these days). Tube and Suzie were also firey.

There's some pretty skippable stuff in Set II following the Disease. The Free is nice enough but 2001 and Piper are both four or 5 minutes with the latter basically aborted in favor of Tweezer after Trey decided he didn't know what to do with it. There were more than a few fatigued frustrated moments on his face where he just didn't have an idea or vision and just wanted to move on. This was a nice, if in-the-box old-school Tweezer, and the first I had personally seen since 2003 somehow, so I was pretty happy to hear it. The Backwards Down the Number Line was probably the weakest version I've seen.

The Bowie was terrific, however! Really great stuff that goes well out of the Bowie theme into major territory, and swirls around confidently. I'm not sure where the band pulled the energy off to execute that but it was a nice surprise after a pretty deflating late set sequence.

You could see the Loving Cup encore coming a mile away, but it was nice to hear Page chat a bit about being happy to be back in Canada, and about the difficulties of the tour regarding weather. It was even nicer to hear Trey finally break his silence following Squirming Coil and dedicate it to the newly born Prince in England, complete with reciting the relevant lyrics:

The muscles flex the mother's ring
She fastens children to her king
And sends him down the crooked street
When he returns, the birth's complete

And then suggesting they call the baby Kong. Presuming that he'd be a King someday. Har har.

This was probably one of the weaker start to finish shows of the ten I've seen in 3.0. But the Disease jam was one of the best I've seen in that span, so there you go. Strange and wonderful times with this band, as always. Happy to just watch them age, really. Thanks for coming back to Canada, boys. How about a return to Montreal in 2014? It'll be twenty years next July.


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