, attached to 2013-07-22

Review by feckless_animus

feckless_animus With this being the end of a 13-year Canadian hiatus, the venue allegedly undersold (looked pretty full to me), and the cancellation/postponement, expectations were pretty high that there would be some crazy craziness. You'd think the previous night's antics might have quashed some people's fantasies, but anyone hoping for a Forbin/Mockingbird or Rush's 2112 played in its entirety, a la 11/02/98, were likely disappointed.

If, however, you were hoping for two solid sets of tight and energetic Phish, then you probably went home happy.

This was my first show in almost fifteen years. And while I admit to being a little dismayed to hear that a certain fat sweaty bulldog had made his appearance in Chi-town, I was not banking on anything wildly out of the ordinary. I just wanted to hear the Phish. And, to my ears, the band was locked in and determined to give the fans a good show, ready and willing – despite just coming off what must have been a physically and emotionally exhausting three night run – to give a little (or a lot) extra when the moment called for it.

From the very first notes of Moma there was an intensity, a fierce energy that continued throughout the show. First set highlights included Twist and Ocelot; the former briefly dipped its toes in uncharted waters, and the latter was more than a little ferocious. Undermind and Stash, while neither departed for distant vistas, were both well-played and enjoyable. And the only "ballad" in this set, Army of One, was heartfelt and on point.

The second set included a DWD that is well worth a relisten and that segued nicely into a tight, mid-90s vintage, 2001 that likewise segued smoothly into Free. One of my few complaints about the night was a frustrated desire for this Free to stretch its legs but, like 2001, it was on the short side. Piper followed (also worth hearing again) before deferring to Tweezer.

I'll have to relisten to this Tweezer, but in the moment I felt that, while it flirted with a TypeII sort of thing, it stayed mostly within the boundaries of what we've come to expect from a Tweezer jam. But that is not, in any way, a criticism; in fact, after the show last night I was contemplating a .net thread entitled "Toronto Tweezer: The Case for TypeI." This was, as the kids say, a rager. I was especially blissed out by a certain section toward the end of the middle, or the beginning of the end, or wherever, when Trey is playing these really choice syncopated licks on top of everything, one of which kept hitting this perfect peak and then dropping down before taking another syncopated stab. Even if it did go full-on TypeII (again, I need to re-listen), they stayed close enough to home that they could return to the main theme for a completely satisfying (and possibly old-school?) slow-down, wind-down before another smooth segue, this time into SITM.

BDTNL was next, followed by a Cavern that I'm sure most in attendance thought would be the end of the show, especially because of what felt like an extra-long pause before crashing into the final note. But when the smoke cleared, there was that familiar high hat, signaling a very special bonus round. Bowie! The composed sections were tight (not quite flawless, but close enough), and the energy was there. The jam featured some of the Major/minor fluidity that has been a feature of recent shows, and while it was true TypeII for a while, they still brought it back to the main theme to cap off the set with a bang.

I was really hoping for a Golgi (or an Axis!) for an encore, so Loving Cup was a bit of a letdown. But the boys were still playing their hearts out. And, anyway, there was a Tweeprise coming, so it wouldn't be all bad. Of course, little did we know there would be an extra special cherry on top in the form of Squirming Coil (the first of tour). During Page's solo the audience started clapping to the beat (which normally aggravates me), but they managed to keep it in time, and Page played off of it nicely, maintaining a sense of rhythm and syncopation through to the end of the solo. It was nice to hear Trey speak a bit (especially to recite a bit of the lyrics to Coil) before slamming into a reprise to end the night.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable show. I was at that show and, let me tell you, people were having a _great_ time.


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