Welcome back to tour after our day off as we continue our journey below the Mason-Dixon line. Phish switches things up tonight by opening with “Amazing Grace” instead of closing with the song, which honestly works better because the crowd isn’t as rowdy as they are at the end of a show and the unamplified recording thus sounds okay. The band then plays a conventional opener, “Suzy Greenberg.” The following “Sparkle” is flubbed a bit at the beginning but works itself out by 0:30 and segues into “Guelah Papyrus.” Besides for the awkward beginning to “Sparkle” the band sounds good tonight, and that holds true for the mid-set “Divided Sky.” Trey misses a few notes and isn’t quite as spot-on as he is during the best performances of this song, but it still sounds solid.
“Esther” makes her third appearance of the tour before a ripping “Chalk Dust” that provides the best Trey solo of the night so far. We get a “Stash” in this set and it’s still largely interchangeable with the other “Stash” performances from this tour, though it does sound tightly played tonight. An “I Didn’t Know” with Fish on trombone leads to a set-closing “Run Like an Antelope” that, like the “Stash,” is well-played but mostly unremarkable. Honestly, the same can be said for most of the set. The intro of “Sparkle” and some spots in “Divided Sky” are the only segments where the band sounds off, but there’s nothing much in this set that I’ll have a strong desire to return to in the future, either. Like most Phish shows I listen to, it looks my opinion of this show will ultimately be determined by what the band throws down in the second half.
“Just sit there, stay calm, stay calm…It’s time for the intermission!”
Set 2 opens with a pairing of Rift songs: “Rift” and “Fast Enough for You,” both of which sound okay. I like “Fast Enough” in this slot as an early-set breather. “Reba” follows and the jam is going by 6:30. This one is short and not as glorious as a great “Reba” is. Fairly unremarkable playing from Trey. Mike’s Groove serves as the mid-set meat and the “Mike’s Song” jam starts by 3:00 with bass slapping from Mike and organ playing from Page. Trey joins in slightly after but it’s more of the same unmemorable playing that we heard in “Reba.” The ending chords are teased around 5:15 and the second “F key” jam begins after a disappointing first jam. Page is still rocking the organ and Trey plays an ascending line that is the most exciting moment of the set so far. The final chords begin by 7:00. “I Am Hydrogen” is absolutely butchered tonight with a big screw-up at 1:20 and again just a minute later. Not sure what happened the first time but Mike sounds really off here. Not a pleasant listen. “Weekapaug” provides some redemption after a somewhat weak opening to the set. Page opens the jam with some good lines around 1:50 that then leads into some good Trey/Page interplay over the next couple of minutes. By 3:30 we hear some of the best Trey soloing of the set so far before the jam breaks down into a sparse segment that then builds into a good peak at 6:00. It’s not the best “Weekapaug” of the tour or anything but it’s some good improvisation, at the very least.
“The Wedge” cools things off after the Mike Groove and works for me at any place in a show. This show has been full of songs in heavy rotation and that trend continues with “Poor Heart,” which is appearing at its fourth show in a row. A slightly more entertaining than usual “Big Ball Jam” leads us into the night’s Henrietta segment. Fish introduces his vacuum and notes that it’s “barely hanging on” after years of (ab)use. He says he’ll sing “Love You” before quickly changing his mind and asking Page to begin “Bike” instead. The return to “Hold Your Head Up” after “Bike” is extended tonight with both Mike and Page having some fun with the refrain. “Fee” and “Llama” are paired for the first time since Portland and I still like the yin/yang feeling of these songs being played together. They also both sound good, making for a solid ending to the set.
Before the encore Trey introduces their bus driver, Charlie, and dedicates “Contact” to him. “Fire” sends the crowd home. This show doesn’t have too many serious flubs (besides for the atrocious “Hydrogen”) or a bad flow to the sets but it also lacks excitement and improvisational highlights. The playing feels a bit pedestrian at times and songs like “Reba” and “Mike’s Song” feel underwhelming tonight. Since it’s still an enjoyable listen I’ll give it a 3, but this show definitely shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of your “must-hear” list from this tour.
- Show rating: 3/5
- Highlights: “Weekapaug Groove”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 77 mins.
- Second set length: 90 mins.
- This was the first and last time Phish performed at Memorial Hall.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Fire,” returning after a seven show absence (2/6/93).
- The best represented studio albums are Rift and A Picture of Nectar (5 songs).