NYE Review Pt. 1: A Circus of Light
One week later, and the events that took place in Miami are still fresh in our minds. One week since Phish ushered us to the edge, and back, in a musical circus that acted as the perfect capstone on the band’s comeback year. Over the course of four days, Phish fans of all types were reminded why we travel so far, and make such large sacrifices, just to see this band play.
When the final notes of Loving Cup were played, and we all walked, or staggered out of American Airlines – with no further shows in sight – the future seemed bright. High fives, hugs, cheers – few naysayers. In contrast to the 2003 NYE shows when it seemed the band was on a downward spiral, and were trying to see how far they could ride it, we followed blindly in tow. But, with the band now trodding upward into new territory, it seems the creative spark has been reignited, and all that lies ahead is -
The run began with an innocent introduction to the magic that would unfold on the following nights. The night that will surely be forgotten amongst the rest, shouldn’t be so quickly overlooked. With a setlist that flowed like a late 90′s Dead set, there were moments of greatness speckled amongst, reminding us why you should never miss a show. The return of “My Soul” (110 shows) saw Trey lock into some heavy lead work laced with crisp blues licks. It’s songs like this that remind us why Trey went searching for that edgier tone. Both Page and Trey displayed their skills in a tasteful exchange of solos.
The highlight of the 28th, for me, came during “Roggae” – a song that had been too long removed from Phish sets. The jam followed in the new direction, with Trey wailing out on his new favorite toy, building climaxes and then exploding into release. Mike’s continuing improvement was evident, as he layered the song with cascading stacatto notes, filling pockets of sound with rich, colorful playing. The jam built around each member’s playing, moving forward in a fully connected musical conversation. “Stash” was good, but failed to reach the highs seen in “Roggae”. Instead, the jam was more of a discombobulated mess that could have become something, but never did.
The second set built a great deal of energy that laid the way for the next night including a great “Light” jam. But, the rest of the set continued to chug along with a choppy flow that failed to get things going. “Makisupa” featured an extended groovy reggae jam that finished with an oddly-timed layer of syncopated chords. The night was capped off with an explosive “First Tube”, however, in a nearly empty house filled with a travel worn crowd, the energy just wasn’t there.
Check back Monday where we will break down the rest of the NYE run…