, attached to 2014-10-17

Review by PersnicketyJim

PersnicketyJim Context: Flew down from Seattle. Met fellow fans on the plane and split shuttle into town with them, undoubtedly bewildering the other strangers with whom we shared the van. It was my 23rd show in 20 years, and first indoors since 2003. I was most excited for the latter fact, but also for the likelihood, established by precedent, that Fall Tour would be better than Summer Tour, and perhaps even an improvement upon the great Fall 2013. Walked to the show with an old friend who lives a few blocks from venue, stumbling through Shakedown Street, remarkably located on residential lawns. Passed through wicked tight security and into the clean, modern and somewhat intimate venue. Located about halfway up, Page-side of the soundboard, I arrived to my seat early to take it all in. Was certain they'd open with The Old Home Place. Lights...

WAITING ALL NIGHT. Okay, I thought, I'm down for this. After all, ever since Northerly Island's version it's been my favorite Fuego track, notably for the direction in which Fishman has taken it. But in general I'm all for continued work on Fuego songs—I'm still spinning it regularly. First impression: they're tight; they must have practiced. This is a good thing. Moments later, was struck my another impression: they sound well balanced, another sign of practice, good venue acoustics, or both. Mike's Deep Impacts bombs strike me next. On the album track, they're awkward in my opinion, but they now fit live. That the smooth bombs don't elicit their typical Pavlovian crowd response also reinforces how well used effect is here, rather than being just an excuse for Mike to draw a cheer. Trey's sweet playing then jumped out to me. His relaxation is consistent with how I viewed his Seattle Symphony performance a month prior. Outstanding tone, too. As the jam progresses, it's softness reminds me of Fee. I yelled my first "yeah" of the night when they rounded the corner and began the final chorus. Great opener.

FREE. Fishman assaults the opening... Nice setlist placement. Given that they just opened with a new song, not to mention their tightness, Free in the second slot made it instantly feel like 1995 in the room. Quickly, Mike's Deep Impact comes into sharp focus, and once again its use is apt. Fishman wailing on his kick...this is good. I haven't heard be Free played this faithfully to the original in a while. Once again, it's as if they practiced. Landed well after the night's first little miscue. POOR HEART. Weird how they seemingly botch the intro these days on purpose, kind of the like the return in Ghost. But once it gets goings it's forceful and tight. And then Page steps up...slams the keys (with a yell from Fishman). Strong finish. SAMPLE. Relaxed. Trey is locked in, executing well. Another strong finish. STRANGE DESIGN. What!? What year is this? This is cool, I thought, and they delivered a smooth rendition. 555. Here it is, expected early by many, perhaps in its role as the new Moma. The sound still sounds well balanced...the bridge is played tastefully. Fishman's new toms are tuned nicely, almost as if for this very song. Conventional jam, builds nicely. BOUNCING. Ha! There have been so many nods already the era in which they last played Eugene, why not Bouncing? Played faithfully. REBA. Boom, down to business with back-to-back Lawn Boy songs. Very well paced, like many so far tonight, akin to when they were played early in their lives. Executed well. Trey's confident tone once again standing out. Page also confident sounding, as well as louder in the mix. ROGGAE. Sweetly and patiently introduced. Sounds great with Mike largely driving this version now memorialized in video. The jam quickly vaults into space. Fishman and Mike rise together and the crowd responds. And it's great when the crowd applauds the end of a jam and return to a chorus. When done I think it's clear that this version deserves a place among the best ever, right beside The Gorge 2011. SIMPLE. What is this 1994!? Flow. This set has it. Compact jam. Deep, Deep Impact ending. MAZE. Damn they're hot. Incidentally this is my 9th Maze, my new most-seen (39%) song. Seldom have I heard them listen to each other in this song, though. COIL. A statement of how they must be feeling. Relaxed and nostalgic—hell of a way to start a tour. Perfect close to a near perfect set. (Makes me wonder what would happen if we ranked sets and aggregated the scores.) Page teased something there just before the end... Page certainly continues to relieve Trey of some of his front-man duties, hasn't he?

Again, great set. Promising way to start a tour. My section mates concurred about the tightness and relaxed vibe. I stayed in my seat until lights...

CARINI. I'll take it. Not bold, but certainly apropos of the era. Smooth transition into the jam segment. Good texture. Up, not dark, and well executed. It's a solid version. At a point, notably with Fishman's ride bell rolls, I start to hear Bill Kreutzmann influence. Damn Halloween surprises! Wait, what are they doing? They're segueing into something... PLASMA. Nice! They nailed this debut. With the buttery segue and relatively clean vocals, it was obviously practiced (was sound-checked). At this point, it was clear that they had matched the trajectory of the first set, raising the energy further and cementing great show status. The melody as played by Phish is totally infectious. When it's over, the band pauses, allowing a grateful audience buzz to fill the room. That was special. FARMHOUSE. A breather. Understandable after such an energetic and focused debut. Flow be damned, it was played smoothly and sweetly like many songs had been all night. But alright, let's crank it back up... MOON. I like this song, but I feel like they have yet to play it live better than it was played in the studio. This one was reasonably well played, though. TWIST. In my persnickety opinion, Twist hasn't done much since 2000. But it's Fall 2014 and I'm I'm open, and lo, this jam goes to some pretty cool, fresh new places. It was simply well played, balanced, and exuding relaxation. CROSSEYED. Good placement...this might go somewhere. Great tempo, the band sounds recharged. Fishman hammering on the ride bell, sounds great. Textures, rhythms, and the return of plinko jamming! Then dark and type II, what sounded like a slow Fuego tease, echoplex/whale action, and then "still waiting" chants. Sublime. Even thought I heard Psycho Killer coming on...ends somewhat abruptly. HOOD. Seems right. Very 2013-14, but still right. Was that a Llama fake in there? Solidly played. ROCKYTOP. Continuing the odd 3.0 practice of pre-playing encores to end shows. They're happy but clearly tired.

Encore: WINGSUIT. Alright, yes, much better choice than most recent encores (looking at you Zero). Nice fills by Fishman. Jam gets blissful and I become more grateful for the encore selection. SLEEPING MONKEY. Laughing-out-loud, yes. Perfectly tying the sets together. Pretty hilarious ("for Page") banter, too. Another glimpse of Trey's great tone—sounds Fall 1997-like. QUINN. 3-song encore is feeling like a third set. Let's all sing along then... One of their more well played Quinns, too.

Great tour opener. Tight, relaxed, good flow, and nods to the last time they visited Eugene. Top moments: Roggae, Plasma, and Crosseyed. Straight to bed, prepared for a 6-hour drive back to Seattle...


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