1-3-03 - Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA

Date: Tue, 7 Jan 2003 17:08:07 -0500 
From: Jodi Bryan jbryan@tellus.org
Subject: 1/3/03 Review

I just had to write in after reading some of these posts.  This is
rediculous.  1/3/03 was one of the best shows that I've been to.  The
energy was insane!  Sure they messed up some, but what the hell do you
expect after a 2+year haiatus?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!  I definitely DON'T agree
with Matt Lyon. This show went from great to greater not from amazing to
embarrassing!  The BEST Contact I've ever heard and an insane Possum.  
This was the general consensus.  I spoke with TONS of people on 1/4 before
going into that show and everyone that I talked to mentioned Possum and

This was my 36th show ( I know this is low compared to some) and I think
that this run was GREAT!!! 

Give the boys a break.  This tour was not about being tight with each
other and being right on all the time. It's about reuniting with old
friends and celebrating our community.  It was about wicked kick-ass music
and sharin' in the grooves. Not documenting each blunder and critiquing
them to the point that you don't want to go anymore.

I really don't like their new album so those of you who didn't get to the
shows, don't believe for a second that this is what they have become.
Pebbles and Marbles isn't great on the album, but the live version blew me
away.  The jam was intense!!  

Before the haitus, phish was becoming stale and the scene was beginning to
get sour.  They haven't had this much energy since 98!  They started to
fizzle toward the end and since my last show was Darien in 2000, I was
ready for a break too.  I wasn't even that excited about going to these
shows because I hated Round Room the first couple times I listened to it.
It made me think of that quote that the interviewer questioned Trey about
in Bittersweet Motel about phish being able to urinate in the ears of
their listeners.  I was pissed that they put this album out.  It sounded
rushed and lame.  Earlier this year I actually started getting into the
Other Ones more.  I did the phish>Dead transition, where I listened to
phish before I got into the Dead.  I actually thought that I wasn't really
into phish anymore.  After the Hampton shows, my love has been renewed and
I'm wicked psyched for the coming tour. Hopefully shit-ass ebay and the
scalpers won't keep me from getting tickets!  I'm still waiting for the
re-releases from ticketbastard or from nice folks at the shows!  Anyone
got my Worcester or Nassau? ;)

Date: Tue, 7 Jan 2003 13:48:47 -0500 From: bblutz bblutz@covad.net Subject: 1-3-03 Hampton Show review WOW! where to start with this show? After going to NYE and being mildly disappointed with the play, although in retrospect i guess I expected way too much, i was ready for my only hampton ticket. I had a few others but traded them so my two friends i used to go to concerts with could come along. We had seen a fair amount of good shows, and god knows ive heard pretty much every tape in existence, but leaving this show...wow. it was very different. Preshow - we waited in line for hours. Our whole group was scattered throughout the line laughing at the security guard who was making fun of most of us. It was really really relaxed. We were pretty far back and got to the second row. THey sold those pollock posters which people were crowding to get which was funny to me. I mean, i'd rather be in the front at this show than get a poster, but whatever. I hear people were selling them for 500 bucks...great scam to whoever pulled that off! We were all 3rd row mike's side... SET I TWEEZER: I've seen a couple of tweezer openers, this one was pretty funky though. A little slower than the ones i particularly like, but i wasn't going to complain. It was a really good opener in the sense that everyone got to find their spots, kind of stare in awe at how close we were (it had been a while). Nothing unbelievable here although Mike was definately very very exploratory, a theme that would continue throughout the entire show. He is really really versatile on the new bass, i really enjoyed it. Anyways, no 45 minute tweezer here or anything crazy, a solid little transition into THEME: I love theme, saw it at my first show in 97 and ever since have welcomed it. No exception here, this one was very very solid. The jam was verrry full and vibrant. The sound at that point i noticed was much different than MSG, and in fact, much fuller than ive noticed in any show i've ever seen. Maybe it was the venue but i mean ive seen them everywhere, I think it was the fact that their jamming style has just matured, there are no top-heavy bottomless jams anymore. Theme was great, I was jumping already. As it trailed off i didn't know what to think would come next. FOAM: Argh i thought. Foam is great song but at concerts, eh? ecspecially with many flubs, but this one was far and away the best i've seen, albeit i've only seen a few. It was really funny when Page's solo went way farther than normal and Trey tried to kick it back. Page really got into the zone here, and it helped the whole sound. During the silent jam some idiot threw a handful of glowsticks at trey's face, which was pretty annoying, but nonetheless it ended very well. The end crescendod nicely. At this point I really couldn't believe the playing, it seemed really more talented than I was used to seeing. Trey had lots and lots of energy i guess 2 and a half years worth... PEBBLES+MARBLES: I expected this one, i really wanted to hear a Friday and this so i was pretty excited. after they took WOTC way out on New Years i had no idea what they'd do to this. The structure of this song is really unrefined as is the jam on the album, but since Mike was grooving so hard he made a really solid foundation. I remember it being fairly spacey yet those windmill-esque blasts by trey towards the end were somewhat different, much more enjoyable. I expect them to tool around with this one, but still again, the playing was rediculous, i mean, they just took it there, a song they'd never played before. wow. YEM: wow, now this song was the craziest version I've ever seen them play, and I've heard numerous YEMS. By far this is the best version I"ve seen them play Live in almost every aspect and it's definately one of the best in the past few years. Hands down. I mean, everything was nicely played, but the jam. the JAM! WOW! it takes me back to 94 and 93 YEM endings with lots of energy peaking and then moving to B+D, but this one, well, i dont know what to say. They didn't want to stop. Trey fell during the trampoline section (see 12/29/97). I can't remember a comparable energetic jam to that one. It left everyone saying "holy s@#$" in the audience. literally. and it wasn't because it is YEM and its not because its the first time back, this one was crazy. i can't compare it to anything because their playing style is so different to any year I've ever heard. The sound was, i'm being repetitive i know, just more full and vibrant. No simple Mike Fills, huge runs up the fretboard, new places. It was great... then the next set! SET II BOAF: predictable second set opener that was pretty solid. You could tell they were energetic, you can see it sometimes when they just come out and are all excited. I think the YEM got them into the show. The BOAF was really pretty good, Stayed on track, no spacey stuff just very solid i mean, it was extremely fresh, not the same sequences we're all used to. WOLFMAN'S: I heard Trey mouth this to Page but wow. I honestly have never heard them play a jam this amazing in Wolfman's. Maybe because i missed the 94 loud ones, and only heard versions that dwindled off into funk, this one had it all. Mike was so good on this song, so good! THere's one part I can't wait to hear again where he just does a few runs up and the band picks up on it, i'll eventually get the timing down when i get the tapes (cds now i guess!) Wow this one was tight. I mean, I think this was far and away the best I've ever seen, into the realm of the best i've ever even heard on tape! Sick is the word. it slowed into a kind of funky... MAKISUPA: Great song. "Fatty" I noticed a bunch of new CK5 effects for this one, but you know a show is special when they play Makisupa. For whatever reason they always are feeling it when this song comes. This wasn't 25 minutes long though, it was about the length of the Clifford Ball one, with a similar structure, lots of effects and lights that won't be appreciated on tapes though.... AXILLA I: Pounding short song with numerous flubs. the downside of the set but i mean if a rocking axilla is the worst part, then how can you complain. Water Boy threw his water jugs in the air for this one, splashing everyone around me and nailing me, but it felt great. TWIST: TOok a while to recognize it, but again a very very solid version. All of these jams are just build-ups. And if that's what you like, get the tapes. If you're in the mood for serious exploration, go somewhere else, but these songs all fall in the 10 minute range, start simple, and end up glorious, very 93-esque. Personally thats my favorite era so I loved this show. Twist was no exception, a very simple bass line and just the build into.. FREE: standard free. Nothing unusual and you can't really top the oswego JIM>FREE so i just kind of relaxed. AOTD: breather song. got to rest and drink some agua. This one will come and go, it's not a spectacular song though POSSUM: Alas, they didn't play Slave despite my sign but hey, possum is ok sometimes. I was a little bummed, but this version is really really good. By the end we couldn't believe the energy, an exceptional version I thought. ENCORE: CONTACT : YEAH! what a great encore song, almost the essential one at that. Page was so into his part that Trey pulled a trick on him and stopped the band in the middle of the funk. This lead to one of the best contacts I think ever, very different, almost a new song in itself TWEEPRISE: you really can't go wrong with this encore one-two punch. Reprise is great and this one really really hit the end. Man this concert was waaaaay differnet than ones I'm used to. They really are building up jams like they used to a long long time ago. I'm a drummer so i normally listen to Fish but he's gotten so good that he fades into the background. You don't even notice him, i mean, and he's the best drummer i've seen play other than billy martin. They all looked so happy at the end, its been a long time, maybe Worcester 98 where I've seen them so amazed at what they played. I might be overreacting because i was returning to Phish with 6 of my best friends at hampton in the second row, but i mean, look at some other reviews. This show was really really great. I'm excited for my 6th row Cincy tickets. see you on tour SlavePhanLutz lutzda0@wfu.edu
Date: Sun, 16 Feb 2003 10:30:41 -0500 From: David Blevins playitleo99@hotmail.com Subject: 1/3/03 Just thought I'd put in my 2 cents on one of the best shows I've been to since 11-27-98. Yeah the guys were sloppy at times, but the jams were great. YEM part II was a great version if it weren't for YEM part I. And the cresendo that leads up to the AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH BOY!!!! was the loudest thing I'd ever heard. May have been why they started off with possum the next night?? Anyway the reason I was writing is because the little instrument switch-a-roo and the end of set 2 was just a little gag the guys were doing. Trey was trying to get Page to act like the guitar was a baseball bat and Trey was going to "pitch" him a "ball"^.sorta like how trey did at the end of the Halloween show in Asheville. I don't see how anyone could think they were jesturing^.here you play the guitar^.anyone could do better than me^.after that Possum.
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2003 10:36:53 -0500 From: Christopher Sahl CSahl@Richmaylaw.com Subject: Reviews for 1/3/03 Jan. 3, 2003 Thought I'd toss in my takes from this show, my first since Chicago 2000, and my initial reaction (without hearing the recordings) is that it was the best show I've seen since the Island Tour (not including Cypress). I thought the shows had a very similar feel to that tour, as it was a mix of all their various jam-styles at the time without leaning too heavily on any one style being fleshed out. Add to that the limited time-frame, knowing they have so many songs to get to in so little time, and the recipe is there for a great show. After attending the last two nights at Hampton, and hearing MSG, that this show (1/3/03) will likely be the one I listen to most. To qualify my leanings as a Phish fan, I like the guitar-rawk. You can keep your NICUs, your YaMars, your Mounds... Give me some shred. And this was certainly the show for the shred. If you're like me, and got really into Phish because their guitar-player could rip holy hell, this is a show for you. I can't remember hearing or seeing a show (certainly not within the last 5-6 years) where there were as many jams that "peaked" at such high-decibel, full-band balls-out levels as every song in the first set, and the majority (save Makisupa and All of...) of the second set. I too thought Trey seemed pretty hammered, esp. in set one, singing along at innopportune times and whatnot, but for me, a drunk Trey means a fired-up Trey, and this fired-up Trey put his all into amazing solos and group interplay, unable in his inebriation to have the patience for delay and loop pedal tomfoolery. What cannot be seen by looking at the setlist alone is the aggressiveness of songs known since '97 as mellow if engaging "funk" jams such as Tweezer and Wolfmans. Both these songs had jams that ended up loud, raucous, and worthy of frequent hippie-headbanging from yours truly. P&M was the song I was most hoping to see, and it did not disappoint. The dynamic structure of the song part works well in concert, the whole band dropping out as Trey sings the verses in his wavery high-voiced whisper-style singing. This creates great energy as the song builds into the ripping jam, that while energetic and rocking, still felt like it was the first time they'd played it live. By the end of the upcoming Feb/March tour, I have no doubt it'll be closing second sets. The YEM fuckup was hilarious, and was the kind of thing I could laugh about now, whereas two years ago, I'd have been pissed ("how could they fuck up a song they've played so much, they don't care anymore, etc."). The hiatus not only helped Phish to reappreciate the fun in performing live together, but for me to enjoy it for what it was. The YEM jam smoked, easily the best I've seen live. Possum had more peaks than I can ever remember hearing, just not willing to give up the momentum and intensity of the night. I'd have to call for Trey as MVP. He played with a fire I'd been missing since my early days as a fan, as opposed to 1/4/03, when he played more like the Trey of the last 5 years... tasteful, solid, but easily distracted by ambient effects and slow songs of debatable worth. The rest of the band, esp. Page, sounds more daring and comfortable on-stage than I remember, and not doubt the experience of leading bands on their own helped them to fully appreciate their red-bearded leader for what he does, as well as inspired them to take more chances. Though the changes were a little rough, the jams were as inspired as I've seen in some time. I'll take this any day. I had been reading how they never even have to practice the old songs, just relearn them on their own in practice, and it showed at Hampton. While the changes of older, more difficult songs were a little off, they were definitely fired-up to jam these songs after the hiatus.
Date: Mon, 06 Jan 2003 16:06:36 -0600 From: Bill Davis dividedsky13@hotmail.com Subject: review for 01-03-03 1/3/03 Hampton Coliseum - Hampton, Virginia 1: Tweezer -> Theme From the Bottom, Foam, Pebbles and Marbles, You Enjoy Myself 2: Birds of a Feather, Wolfman's Brother, Makisupa Policeman, Axilla, Twist -> Free, All of These Dreams, Possum E: Contact, Tweezer Reprise Though I have been to quite a few shows, this is my first review. I went to all three Hampton Shows and was blown away by all of them. The energy inside was incredible, even more so than two days before at MSG. Anyways, the show: Set I Tweezer: I have caught a Tweezer at half of the shows I^ve been to, yet I always love to hear it. Overall a great way to start the show. Theme: Hell yeah! My first Theme! This version was very pleasant to hear but wasn^t as energetic as some versions that I have listened to. Foam: Another first! This Foam kicked ass the whole way through, as both myself and the rest of the crowd were dancing along the entire song. Pebbles: I am personally not a fan of Phish^s new album, but I was pumped to hear this because this was the one song one of my friends wanted to hear. To top it off, this song was off the charts! I was floored by the jam and would have called this the best song of the set if they hadn^t then played^ YEM: YES!!! This was the first song I^ve called, though the pause in-between Pebbles and YEM while they were deciding what to play was excruciating. Trey was way off in the first 25 seconds, and upon apologizing, the band restarted the song. After two and a half years, this was the song EVERYONE wanted to hear and it was awesome! I thought I was going to lose it when the band built up towards the ^boy!^. Overall, an excellent first set. After the YEM, I needed a good breather and was pumped for the second set. Set II Birds: Ugh. I don^t like this song and was majorly disappointed to hear them open the set with it. However, my mood quickly turned as the jam ended up being wonderful. Yet another example of how Phish can turn around nearly any song. Wolfman^s: How do I put this^ this song was the highlight of the ENTIRE New Year^s tour. The jam from this song was mind boggling, hitting several different peaks and laying down the funk. Unbelievable. Makisupa: My first Makisupa and well worth it, since two of my other friends had been waiting for this song real bad. Very cool to hear in concert. Axilla: This song once again got Hampton rocking. Excellent energy and jamming. Twist: Uhhhh^ weird placement for an okay song. I liked this version, and nothing more. Free: My friend who wanted to hear Pebbles turned to me and said, ^Watch them go into free^^ and they did! This was another huge song from the set, with everyone singing along during the composed portion and a ridiculous jam following. All of My Dreams: This was even worse than Twist. I got a quick breather before^ Possum: NO WAY!!! I hadn^t heard this since my first show! This song is a perfect example of why you need to see Phish in concert, since the lights during this song were out of control! This version was killer, with the usual peaks and ^Possum!^ chants. A fantastic way to close the show. Encore Contact: People were a little bummed not to hear something a little more upbeat before the expected Tw.Reprise, but this Contact had a Page and Mike solo that got the crowd roaring and a nice jam in-between. I am now a big fan of this song. Tweezer Reprise: The perfect way to end a great show.
Date: Sun, 5 Jan 2003 22:39:31 -0800 From: Matt Lyon phishphan624@hotmail.com To: dws@phish.net Subject: Review for 1-3-03 show 1-3-03 Hampton, VA This show went from amazing to almost embarrassing in my opinion. Set 1 came out rockin'. Tweezer, Theme, Foam, Pebbles and Marbles, YEM(!). Couldn't ask for a better first set. Second set started off solid, but the 2 1/2 year break showed from Twist on. The boys were a little rusty vocally as well as chemically. It just seemed like they could never sinc up. The crowd noticed too, as some cheers were out of sympathy and encouragement rather than applause. As the second set came to an end, the band found humor in the situation as Trey gave his guitar to Page as if to say "You give it a shot, I got nothing tonight." And Mike banging Jon's cymbals together: " Maybe I'll have better luck with these." Anyways, the boys definately didn't have their A game, but came out with a solid show that didn't disappoint the masses.
Date: Sun, 5 Jan 2003 12:33:08 -0800 (PST) From: Alex Cobb cobb_alex@yahoo.com Subject: 1/3/03 Review Preshow. We got into the lot at exactly three, we were probably the sixth car let in. I planned our entry perfectly. At 2:58 we were set to beeline right for the gates. We parked and ran to the ticket lines and ended up behind three or so people in the second from the right line. We had prepared for the wait and brought some "special" cookies to munch on. At about 5:20 the staff anounced they were going to move the first 30 or so people from each of the ticket lines up past the first gates. Supposedly this was to prevent a rush to the doors like the night before. They combined the far right line with our line making for a big mess of people. All the other lines were organized, ours definitely was not. When the doors opened everyone went in pretty efficiently and without much pushing. As soon as I got in I ran to where I knew I wanted to be, the closest possible seats, Mike-side. I made it to the section and people were trying to save almost all the seats. Sorry fellas, but my ticket says General Admission. Saving a couple seats is fine, but 10? Not gonna happen. The wait for the show went by pretty quickly, even though I was really really anxious. The Show. Set I Tweezer>Theme, Foam, Pebbles and Marbles, YEM The boys came on stage right. After they got situated Trey played the opening notes of TWEEZER - I called a Tweezer opener, I was psyched!! At first Trey sounded a bit off, kind of behind the rhythm. This didn't last long, the boys launched into a nice 15 or so minute jam. Trey was shredding and Fishman pulled out some great fills. Towards the end the jam got pretty ambient, Trey doing some feedbacking and Page holding some nice chords. Eventually everyone stopped but Mike who was playing the Theme From the Bottom bassline. THEME - I lost it here. Theme is one of my favorite songs to hear live, being a huge '97 fan. This was a standard and excellent version of the tune. I love the power of this song, it always gets my fist pumping. My whole section was going nuts!! Great jamming up to the "From the bottom, from the top" segment. Next came FOAM - Great song placement. At this point I was loving this first set. This was a nice version of Foam. Page was on! Midway through he laid down a great little solo. All in all a nice extended Foam. PEBBLES AND MARBLES - Trey softly introduced the chords to P&M, I went nuts! After seeing Waves, 7 Below, and WOTC had been played at NYE, P&E was the most desirable Round Room song they could've played. This was an excellent version of the tune. Trey definitely dominated. I had to stop and stare. He was just ripping the shit out of his guitar. Nice peaks. Overall very solid. YEM - The Coliseum exploded. Trey flubbed a lot of the beginning segment, and about thirty seconds in his frustrations led him to restart the song. 'The Note' was held for longer than usual with Trey in full Rock Star mode looking to the ceiling. The whole venue was hopping. The crowd joined in on a very loud 'Scream'. The 'Boy' part was right on. Things started to get very funky. Trey almost fell during the trampoline segment, grinning ear to ear. Beautiful. The song hit 5 or so insane peaks. Mike was really on fire. A very interesting vocal jam ended this intense first set. (75:03) Set Break - Took a wizz. Very efficient urinal usage. Good work fellas. Set II BOAF, Wolfman's, Makisupa, Axilla (I), Twist>Free, All of These Dreams, Possum BOAF - Yeah!!! What a great tune! The jam was definitely Trey dominated. Very very tight. Nice extended jam into the chorus. WOLFMAN'S - I was psyched to hear this. This Wolfman's was very funky. Mike was laid down a thick groove. Nice key work from Page. Eventually the jam shifted to a more rocking form with Trey really nailing some high notes. Great jam. MAKISUPA - Hahaha. Excellent to hear. Standard version. "Woke up this morning... at about 3 oclock this afternoon." "Phatty". "Policeman came to Hampton Hampton Hampton" Trey also referenced Waffle House and Hooters. Nice little loop jam midway through. Great stuff. AXILLA (I) - Great song placement. Standard raging Axilla. Short and sweet. TWIST - I'm not a huge Twist fan, but this was a really good version. Lots of audience participation on "Wooo!". Around the 7 minute mark, things became very mellow and spacey. Trey set some loops and Page stretched out on the synth. The jam went right into FREE - My buddy was psyched to hear this tune, as was I. Great rocking version. Trey was really into it. Full on Rock Star mode, dancing around the stage a little bit. The boys seemed to have a really good time with this one. ALL OF THESE DREAMS - Nice mellow break. I cheered REALLY loud during Page's beautiful little solo, a bunch of others followed my lead. I love that little solo. This is my favorite slow song from Round Room. Really well played, great to see. I thought this might end the set but no. We got a big ol fat POSSUM - I love Possum. A couple of my buddies called Possum for this show. I'm glad they were right. This Possum raged! Trey was popping balloons with a huge grin. At the end, Trey gave his guitar to Page who pretended to play it behind his head and with his teeth. Mike gave Trey his bass and picked up two big cymbals and slammed them together twice and the set was over. Encore Contact, Tweeprise CONTACT - "Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. Al Gore". At first I was kind of bummed about this choice of encore. But the boys did not dissapoint. Things got very funky ala '97. Almost Tube-like at times. At the end both Page and Mike took nice little solos. This was an extended jammy version of Contact. A real treat to hear. TWEEPRISE - Great high energy way to end a terrific show. Postshow. Nice little lot scene. Some great looking glass, tasty burritos and lots of drugs for those so inclined. I didn't like hearing so much talk about yay o (cocaine), but it didn't really bother me. Two guys lost control of their Nitrous tank and it was spraying everwhere. Hahaha. Thanks to the folks selling Sammy Smiths. Always a tasty treat. General Thoughts. The boys are back!!!! Some of the more technical composition stuff (YEM) is a bit rusty, but this will definitely improve. The jamming is ridiculous. They sound soooo tight. Trey is fucking wailing. Page and Mike sound better than ever. And Fishman is, well, absolutely amazing. I'm really excited about the February tour and the Livephish.com SBD's. I'm listening to this show as a I type this review. The sound quality is as good as it gets. I'm just so glad they are back! See you all in Cincinnati. Take care. -Alex Cobb cobb_alex@yahoo.com
Date: Mon, 06 Jan 2003 18:22:07 -0500 From: phil silak bucketovic@hotmail.com Subject: Show Review 1/3/02 This show was all about the raging first set. Of all the new songs Phish played at Hampton Pebbles was definately the most enjoyable. The harmonies were smooth, the changes were crisp, it was great to hear some exciting new material. Before I talk about the YEM you have to understand that the energy level of the crowd at this show was the loudest I've ever heard anywhere (including 25+ shows). The crowd was NUTS. When the band kicked into YEM to close the set you couldn't hear a thing except a ubiquitous roar. The crowd was so loud that I couldn't tell they flubbed the beginning and couldn't really hear what Trey said except "Let us try again" or something which only made the crowd louder. The mic tapes of this are going to be interesting. While enduring this dream of a first set and the screaming and a YEM a glow war has also been happening since the first attempt at starting YEM began. When the band peaked out the middle with a scream and said "boy" the entire crowd screamed with them causing the loudest moment in history. The jam was raging but the real highlight for me was the "George Takei" vocal jam. I was the only person I talked to at the show who knew what they were saying and only because I got his autograph once and got booed off of a stage by Startrek fans for impersonating/making fun of him in a contest. Gotta love any Sulu reference. The 2nd set was fun but set 1 is where it's at. -phil
Date: Sun, 5 Jan 2003 14:13:19 -0500 From: Margaret Siegel siegel4@erols.com Subject: Here's my review of 1/03/03 Here's a song-by-song analysis for those looking to get it on tape.... The lot was great, the anticipation was high. The line to get into Hampton was an absolute swarming mass...But it was still fairly easy to get good floor seats while inside. We managed to get Page-side floor seats with a reasonably good view of the band and plenty of dancing room. With the band having started at 7:40 or thereabouts the night before (I wasn't there, however), the crowd was absolutely brimming with excitement and entirely antsy for a full half hour. The crowd had a few successful waves going, some coliseum clapping to ease the tension... When the band came on around 8:10 or so, the audience was absolutely deafening. In fact, so loud that it took me about 10 seconds to hear what everyone was screaming about.... TWEEZER: Talk about an opener! The entire place was howling, and it didn't disappoint in the slightest. The jam segment began with some funky moog/synth fills from Page, bobbing around in fall '97 territory for a few minutes before latching into a more rock-infused groove (which we can now presume is one of the characteristics of Phish 2003....a bit hard to describe, but easily recognizable). Don't just discard this version as a crowd-pleasing opener either....This version was gorgeous, and incredibly intense (Truly reminded me of the 11/17/97 opener). Page and Trey have a clearer dynamic than ever, with both of them focused on the same moments of deliberate tension and release. After an successful climax, the band settled into some spacey territory, with Fish providing some Siket Disk-esque fills. I sensed it a few minutes before it happened, but 15 minutes after Tweezer began, it glided into... THEME FROM THE BOTTOM: Aahhh....This is the one-two opener of my dreams. And make no mistake; this Theme was tight as hell, and brilliantly segued. Your normal Theme I suppose, but with a placement like that, it became absolutely thrilling. A very solid version with great placement. FOAM: For some reason I thought it was 'Wedge' at first...but I couldn't believe it when I realized it was 'Foam'. All in all, this is a great version. I feared disaster after everyone discussing flubs from MSG and the previous night, but there weren't any flubs worth complaining about or noticing. You know you're in for a good set when 'Foam' is the breather. PEBBLES AND MARBLES: Let me get this out the way: I LOVE THIS SONG. You can argue all you want, but I truly think that this is one of the best Trey compositions (maybe the best?) since the 'Rift' material. Great lyrics, gorgeous music (how can you resist those opening chords?), and incredible jam potential. I especially love those dissonant, slightly off-kilter chords that open the jam that keep your ear on guard. Every time you think it's going to resolve, it doesn't, and when the jam finally creeps in, it's pure bliss. I would say to keep an eye on it, but I think it already achieved jam success during it's first time played! ...And really, how often have we been able to say that? I would guess that this version was around 15 minutes, but I can't be too sure. A few nice wall-of-noise styled peaks, a reprise of the chorus, and we came back to earth with the eerie outro... YEM take 1: It didn't sound rough to me (but then again, it was hard to hear with the enormous crowd response!!!), but Trey stopped it and said something to the effect of "We practiced this one, and there's no fucking way we're going to play it badly. Give us a second and we'll play it again." Obviously, that's not the exact quote, but something to that effect. A move like that takes some balls, and some musicianship. YEM take 2: This was it: Phish had returned. The composed section was nailed, and a glowring war erupted (mind you, there were still a few glowsticks. But a glowring war is preferred in my book....much less painful). An asshole directly in front of me took two shots at Mike with glowsticks, nearly hitting him. I wanted to wring his neck....but didn't. But seriously...What impels people to want to hit the band? What kind of urge is that?? Anyway....The 'nirvana' segment was gorgeous, and the coliseum was almost hushed for part of it. The sustained Trey solo was flawless, and the buildup to the 'BOY!!!' part was loud as hell....In fact, as oppose to the usually relaxed recital of "boy..." it became "BOOOOOOYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!," as the entire coliseum said it in unison. A great Page solo was followed by some of the funkiest music I have ever heard Phish play. I know what you're saying: YEM is always funky. But this one was exceptionally so, in all seriousness. Fish was an absolute machine, and it sounded like Mike was even playing the 'Black Eyed Katy' bass riff for part of it. The tramps felt later than usual, and some were afraid they weren't going to do it. Trey fell off his trampoline, presumable overwhelmed by the energy of the moment. The crowd roared in mocking approval at his fall....My friend behind me tapped me on the shoulder: "They're back!!" he said....and he had been there the night before. GET THIS JAM ON TAPE AT ALL COSTS. Even with a sizeable collection of shows, I was fully convinced that this is one of the best YEMs since '95. Remember 'the note?' We got it, numerous times. There were a good 8 minutes or so of pure tension and release, and I'm not exaggerating this YEM in the slightest...It was in-fucking-credible, and I'm normally a very critical reviewer.... Funky, tense, euphoric, and best of all...original. They were playing fills I hadn't heard before, and truly making this YEM different, which is rare, imo. GET THIS YEM. The vocal jam was awe-inspiring as well, not to mention the first time that I've ever seen CK5 actually LEAD a jam. He started spinning a speckled light around the coliseum, and everyone started spinning around to follow it. The band reacted accordingly, matching the vocal jam to the lights. Then the lights began a swingset-on-overdrive effect, looping in a circle....with the band matching their vocals accordingly....A great vocal jam, and particularly cool to see. We were absolutely breathless after this set. It was truly flawless....not even a slight amount of downtime (unless you count the 'Foam' as downtime....which is ridiculous). Really a great set, great flow, and it felt very thematic. One thing worried us....How were they going to top it? The only way we could think of was a Mike's...And I was sure they were going to save that for the next night (can't blow the entire load in one night, after all!)....And sure enough, they couldn't top it. Set II was great, mind you...... BOAF: Great Set II opener choice, got the crowd moving. One of the songs on my wish list, and this version didn't disappoint. Very melodic soloing, and a couple of great peaks before the chorus reprised. A very good 10 minute version. WOLFMAN'S: Everyone was worried that the funk had left the building in 2003....But this song destroyed that myth. As funky as any fall '97, and as climactic as any '94 jam. There were a good 8 minutes or so of solid funk, with fantastic slap bass from Mike...But the last 7 minutes or so were even better, gliding into a very Tweezer-esque jam that really rocked.....A great, 15 minute 'Wolfman's.' MAKISUPA: This was odd placement, but still cool. Mentions of Waffle House, heady nugs, other Hampton-related things were in this one....Page was tearing it up. But this was still fairly quick, and ended after about 8 minutes... AXILLA: Make no mistake, these were not the Axilla II lyrics. A solid version, although the band did make a few rhythmic flubs. Got the crowd pumped. TWIST-->FREE: Two songs I'm not hugely in love with that segued into eachother nicely. But unfortunately, the combination of the two didn't make them more than their individual identities...Twist was spaced out, and really cool to hear towards the end (almost subtle!)...but Free was just your usual Free. Tight, i suppose, but not exactly the meat of the set most of us were hoping to hear. I did notice, however, that this set was funky. Extraordinarily funky. But also characterized by similar jams; BOAF, Wolfman's, Twist, Free, and Possum all contained very similar jams, all beginning innocently enough before ballooning into glorious tension and release. No one was complaining of course, but I couldn't help to wonder if Phish had suddenly forgotten alternative tricks. Usually, Phish feels like Phish. But during the second set, Phish felt like "Phish: the Jamband". Still very enjoyable, obviously. ALL OF THESE DREAMS: A little late in the set for a breather. A better performance than Letterman though (no voice crack), and a couple of nice solos. A few of us were worried that they wouldn't have the time to work up anything spectacular before the encore....but fortunately, they got going with........ POSSUM: Aahh.....Now, a Mike's, Disease, or Ghost might've been a better choice, but this Possum was certainly golden (as all are). Very danceable, very euphoric. Your usual Possum, if not a bit more passionate. The choas at the end was awesome as well. Trey began some enormous feedback, and passed his guitar over to Page, who pretended to play it behind his head and with his teeth. Mike was playing the BAH cymbals usually reserved for 'Cracklin Rosie'......Quite a sight. CONTACT: I'm not a big Contact fan, I'll confess. But everyone needs to hear this Contact...After the usual song structure, Trey began a TAB-like segment where he orchestrated Phish, isolating Page and Mike for solos. You'll just have to hear it for yourself, but this was a GREAT Contact. And it might be the only one that really strayed from Contact-ness (my new word).... TWEEZER REPRISE: Aaah, yes. Your normally pounding and energetic Tweezer Reprise, but Trey definitely made a conscious effort to hold it out, staying on some of the higher notes for a few measures before hitting "the note" that ends the song. Great energy. All in all, this show would've been legend if the sets had been reversed. Set I was just too incredible to top, and Set II was above-average, if not great. But as a first set, Set II would have been fantastic, and Set I would have been an over-the-top second set. We would've left the Coliseum bawling. But, as it was, we just left the Coliseum thrilled. A damn good night of Phish, with both sets entirely worth hearing on tape. And set 1? drool...... All comments and complaints accepted at Siegel4@erols.com Peace -Tom
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