Tour Report: Greek Theatre Review
Amidst the backdrop of the traditional Greek columns, Phish performed a three night run that unfolded as if it was meant to become a live album. Each night, the band seemed to evolve from the night before; and in all three shows Phish displayed a different side of their diverse musical abilities. Over the course of the three nights in Berkeley, the band continued to develop a new improvisational style that has woven itself through the peak jams of 2010.
The first night began with a lukewarm display of standards. While the band was consistently hitting the note, they chose not to embark on any extended journeys. Instead, each song was played with precision charging the energy for the next two nights. On night one, Phish proved they too can play a great rock ‘n’ roll show. The highlight of the night came in a moment of stage banter honoring guitar luthier and former Phish soundman Paul Langeudoc. Trey introduced his newest guitar “Ocelot”, claiming Paul had crafted it from a piece of “magical wood”.
Like any magic device, it sometimes takes the user some time to become accustomed to its arcane ways. On the second night at The Greek, Trey and his magical axe led the band through a start to finish onslaught of psychedelic exploration. A rare event occurred when a ‘named jam’ appeared in the first set, following a delightfully funked out version of “Cities”. As the “Berkeley Jam #1″ kicked in, Page stepped forward allowing an organic form of funk to grow. Each member appears to be riffing of the next member’s notes – incredible stuff. The band took their heavily syncopated groove for an extended jam that featured some of the tightest group playing since the reunion. In the second set, Red’s solos were painted with grace and fire, allowing him to craft melodies atop the band’s layered psychedelia. The highlight of the night, and one of the top highlights of 2010, came when the band took “Simple” for a journey to the cosmos, allowing us yet another glimpse into their continually evolving spacey-ambient jamming style.
Night three was perhaps the most fluid of the three shows, combining both compositions with heavy jams. The first set contained standout versions of both “Reba” and “46 Days”. The second set contained yet another highlight of 2010 in a cosmically infused version of “Light”. The band’s ability to weave together sections of dark and dangerous energy with expressions of joyful triumph is simply beyond in this rendition. The second set also included a masterfully executed “Hood” that features Red prancing around the neck of “Ocelot” (the guitar). Placing a capstone on the three night run, the band busted out “Lizards” in the encore spot(!) followed by a rock solid rendition of “First Tube”.
Phish returns to Telluride tonight (on the anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s death) for the first time since 10.27.91. Stay tuned for updates…