, attached to 2013-12-28

Review by jimmycoulas

jimmycoulas In what felt like more of a late fall evening than winter, Phish kicked off their four-night New Year’s Eve run on a balmy night at Madison Square Garden. It’s only fitting that Phish would close out their 30th year in MSG, a building that has hosted it’s fair share of magical moments.

The walk into MSG was a little more crowded than usual, but the energy you feel walking into a Phish show at MSG is indescribable. This was my first time in the newly finished $1 billion renovation and the new entrance is very shiny complete with a big ass LED TV on the ceiling.

The evening kicked off with a little change up in the form of “The Wedge” in the leadoff spot. The last time “The Wedge” opened a shows was on August 8, 1998 at Merriweather Post Pavilion. I’ve always liked this song, but it’s always better when Fishman starts the song rather than Trey. It was an interesting choice, but I believe that it worked as the songs slow groove eased everyone into the evening. I’ve said it before, but I just can’t really get into “Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan,” but last night Trey kept me interested with very short, but hard hitting solo.

Perhaps the most interesting song choice of the first set was the “Birds of a Feather.” It’s not a totally oddity to see it in the first set, but it usually finds it’s way into the second set. The jam was pretty standard type I stuff, but similar to “Stealing Time,” it was short and sweet. The clear highlight of the first set was a very funky, bass bomb heavy “Wolfman’s Brother.” Trey also used the song to showcase his new Echoplex effect. He goes to it around the 5:43 mark and toys with for about it a minute or so. You will definitely want to give it a listen.

Our first Wingsuit offering was the poppy, but popular “Monica.” This was the first full on electric performance as the band performed it in a stripped down acoustic setting in Atlantic City. This song has first set written all over it and I wouldn’t mind hearing this in open a show. Like the weather outside, the late first set “Seven Below” seemed out of place and the jam that was developing gave way to another short “Tube.” The jazzy rocker, “Julius” closed a solid first set.

Any rust that Phish had was quickly shed with the “Sand > Piper” combo, a first since September 17, 1999. The “Sand” jam saw Trey noodle around with a mid to uptempo jam before Page adds some jazzy ascents around the 9:13 mark and the song breaks down into what would become the meat of the jam. Mike and Fishman anchor the jam as Trey and Page add their two cents to the jam before the band settles on “Piper.” I’m a fan of the slow build “Piper’s” and while we probably won’t ever see one, you can’t argue with a straight forward rocking version.

For the third year in a row, “Tweezer” would make an appearance on December 28. Last year, the magnificent version opened the second set followed by a solid “Maze.” Judging by placement of the jam monster, I thought we were in for an extended excursion into the freezer, but that was not the case. For whatever reason, just as the jam was developing, Trey jumped shipped and dove into “Backwards Down the Number Line.” I actually like “Number Line,” but Trey was not been feeling the jam at all. But they would more than make up for it with “Steam”

“Steam” has been a song that has both pleased and teased Phish fans since it’s debut on June, 4, 2011. Last night Phish dropped a version that fans had been waiting for. I’m not quite sure the band has found a good balance when it comes to the jam. The song has been played as a rocker and also as a spacey funk vehicle, but last night the boys found a very happy medium. Trey once was toying with his Echoplex quite a bit and made his guitar sound like it was riving in pain, but in a good way! I think we are going to like his new toy.

We would get one more Wingsuit song with “Waiting All Night.” I really like this song and I think it would’ve been great way to come down off the “Steam.” Like all of these songs, it will take some time before they all find their place in shows. The energy level would go from 0-60 with the high energy set closing “Antelope.” The band would bring the evening to a close with “Suzy Greenberg > Tweezer Reprise.”

Overall it was a solid first show, but I thought there were some flow issues and a couple questionable song placements, but definitely a solid building block. Let’s just say that Phish brought more to MSG at this show than the Knicks 16 home games at MSG this year.


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