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Review by markah
The outro of 46 Days had some great exploration and fanTAStic lights playing on the back of the arena (Cobo, in contrast to many other arenas, was not "in the round" - it had a definite back). Check out these photos from Miner's post today to see what I mean --> http://phishthoughts.com/2009/11/19/cobo-photos/
Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan was better than any of the summer versions to be sure, but part of me feels that it was merely hinting at the amazingly dark jams that will surely come from the song this Fall.
DwD also had some amazing exploratory improvisation. Between DwD and Free, Mike was owning that portion of the show.
"Were they tight?" You bet they were. The Foam was about the tightest thing I've ever heard from this band. Including Hampton. Now, there were a few rough patches throughout the night (more on that in a moment) and you could kind of tell that they were a bit rusty... Not that they sounded bad at all, but you could tell that there were some moments that did not click. One of my friends likened it to training for competitive sports (bike racing, in particular). If you take even just one week off, you're not as sharp and you can notice the difference. Of course you can still ride a bike, and you can still race pretty well, but everything is just not "clicking." It's Ice (and Horn, and the ending of Taste) had a little sour part, and you could see it in Trey's face. In fact, a buddy of mine was backstage helping with the LivePhish.com uploads (on a one-off basis, not as a general occurrence) and said that Trey walked back and said, "hey, can you do me a favor and remove all the bad parts for me before you upload those?" It's so odd to hear that comment, because we all KNOW that Trey's had some nights in the past that were FAR worse than that. I could count the (very minor) flubs from this tour opener on one hand. I guess that's just the new Trey: sober, clear-headed, and hearing and thinking about every single thing. I like that Trey is critical of himself, but I'm not 100% sure that all that is a good thing"... ;-)
After a pretty big lull in the middle of the second set, the "Motor City Mike's Groove" was a double-shot of adrenaline that immediately got the place up and dancing. Either they were channeling the residual energy from one of KISS' many shows in the room, or it was the general heightened sensation of being in an enclosed space, but this Mike's was dark and infused with more metal than usual.
And Cavern after the Weekapaug? Now that's just pure "bonus Phish."
Was the song choice amazing? Certainly not. Was the playing stellar? Absolutely. During Sample I commented that they really don't waste any songs now. They give 110% every single song, every single time now. It wasn't always like that! When I think about it, that is why I fell in love with the band so long ago. Listening to them float among so many varying styles effortlessly on Picture of Nectar, tearing open Rift when I first got it and listening to the raging solo in Maze then the beautiful playing on Horn"...I was completely hooked from that point forward. It was that love & dedication that made me follow the band (although it was from more of a distance) during the "Oxy Years" when things weren't all that consistently good, and I am so overjoyed to have things back to the way they used to be.