Phish had been on point, with a few flubs thrown in that really just made things a bit comical. One must remember that this was the beginning of a tour, and the best had yet to be seen. Holmdel night one had some key jams and true highlights, but also some lowlights in the likes of ‘Divided Sky.’
With tornado watches and severe storms in the region, the feeling of a killer show was in the air. The night before Phish had played after curfew and gave up a ridiculous $1,000 per minute. Thanks for that guys, but would that affect tonight’s show? Just a tad…
The storm subsided just before the show started, and wooks were gathering tickets off the ground or scoring them for less that $20 at the very least. The show started off with a rare bang, a ‘First Tube’ opener, which was the first time it came in an opening slot since Shoreline, CA on 10/7/2000, which was the last show before Phish's first hiatus. The rest of the set was fairly standard Phish, with ‘Stealing Time’ coming up after ‘First Tube.’ It was followed by ‘Camel Walk,’ which used to be a rarity but has been showing up in more and more of Phish’s sets.
‘Heavy Things’ was very nicely executed, with a great solo from Trey as it usually has. However, so far this set wasn’t showing the spark that the previous four shows had. Then things turned around a bit with a nice bouncy rendition of ‘Gotta Jibboo.’ It set up for the rest of the set to be a bit of fire, with ‘Jibboo’ followed up by the perennial rocker in ‘Wilson.’ This got the crowd amped up for ‘Seven Below.’ When it started up I thought this was the time where Phish would take off into a 20 + minute jammer, but it was aborted for ‘Kill Devil Falls.’ I wasn’t that upset about this because the last KDF was outstanding. This one was pretty good, but nothing I would ever abort a good ‘Seven Below’ jam for.
Phish went back to another short rocker with Axilla I, but the highlight of the first set was an absolutely dirty ‘Split Open and Melt.’ For all the crappy seven minute ‘Melts’ they played throughout 3.0 so far, this one showed that they still know how to jam it. It was by far the best one, in my opinion, that Phish had played in a few years. Give it a listen if you are a big ‘Melt’ fan that has been bitter.
The set ended with a ‘Suzy Greenberg’ that had Leo ripping the hell out of the keys. It was definitely Page’s house here, and a strong way to end the set. However, I felt that they should have held out on ‘Suzy’ and ended the set on the high note of the ‘Melt,’ but that is just me. I am not Phish and I know nothing.
The second set was some of the most fun I had at a Phish show in awhile, but at the same time frustrated me because of the lack of jamming that COULD have been there. The set started off with some of the best music Phish had played in the young tour. A fantastic 13 minute ‘Tweezer’ that had all the bells and whistles that a good ‘Tweezer’ has to offer, jammed right into ‘No Quarter’ by Led Zepplin. During the opening notes, fans looked around at each other with a look of “No f*cking way” on their faces.
‘No Quarter’ was played to perfection and was the definite highlight of the night. Page sang with an effect on his voice that made it eerily like Robert Plant singing. Trey’s guitar was very Jimmy Page like as well. If they had screwed this up I don’t know if the band would ever hear the end of it. Instead they played it about as good as possible. It was thoroughly impressive and for anyone who hasn’t heard Phish’s rendition of it, find it and listen. You will not be disappointed.
The rest of the set had so much potential, but Phish didn’t exactly pull through. Many believe that it may have been because of the curfew which they ignored and needed to pay thousands of dollars the night before. Others blame it on Trey for aborting jams early. I would tend to believe the curfew aspect because Trey had just crushed the first two songs of the set.
Phish blasted right into ‘Carini,’ which was perfect placement after ‘No Quarter.’ ‘Carini’ has a bit of a Zepplin sound to it, and it flowed nicely. However, it was never finished for Phish to blast right into ‘Piper.’ ‘Piper’ has yet to really take off in 3.0 like it did back before the hiatus, but this one had its moments. It was a shorty at only about 6 minutes, but segued into a beautiful ‘Twist.’ I thought they might send this one, but it was just under 10 minutes and slipped right into ‘Ghost.’ I was VERY pleased with this because I was expecting an absolute ghoul of a ‘Ghost’ with Phish on fire at this point.
One of my personal high/low points came during this ‘Ghost.’ I was so sure that it was going to be an epic monster, but also needed to use the bathroom like no other. Fortunately, my buddy Sobe ran up to me with a bag and simply said, “Do it.” During the jam, Trey teased ‘No Quarter’ several times. But, after all that it ended up being a short 7:45 ‘Ghost’ that shamefully was aborted for ‘BDTNL.’ I shuddered in horror, wondering why they’d play 10 minutes of ‘Number Line’ instead of 10 more minutes of ‘Ghost.’ To this day, I still don’t understand the reason for this. I wonder if Phish does.
The night finished off with ‘Show of Life’ into ‘Tweezer Reprise.’ I left with a huge smile on my face and the memory of pissing in a bag during an aborted ‘Ghost.’ I’d have to give this one a B due to the ‘Ghost’> ‘BDTNL.’ However, the ‘Tweezer’ > ‘No Quarter’ was A + jamming that cannot ever be ignored. The fun factor for this show resulted in a big fat A. I had a blast with some good phriends, new and old.