, attached to 2010-12-27

Review by hmi1892

hmi1892 Many have criticized this show for being "too mellow," but personally, I think that is exactly where this show gets its strength. In my opinion, it is one of the most delicate and tender shows Phish has played. Ballads, a facet of Phish's music that is often under appreciated, are played with a melodic intimacy that has me coming back to these versions time and time again. This is a perfect example of a show rising far above it's setlist.

Set I opens with a standard Sample in Jar, Funky Bitch one-two punch. Nothing special, especially for 3.0, but the Funky Bitch does smoke. They've really been obliterating this tune the past few years, and I have no problem with how frequently it pops up on setlists. Next up… Cool It Down! A probable nod to the snowstorm that hit Worcester during 2010's NYE run, this is a very welcome addition to the set after the safe opening run of tunes and features a shuffling, laid back bluesy groove. A perfect tune for Phish's sound coming off of Fall 2010 and their cover of Little Feat's Waiting for Columbus.

Roggae is, in my humble opinion, the most psychedelic song in Phish's catalogue. It is one of the few Phish originals that has a "Dead-esque" feel to it. This version is incredibly powerful. Mike is especially strong in the beginning of the jam. The band really shows off their ability for delicate, four-headed interplay before building to the strong, rolling chords that signal the end of the song. The Heavy Things to follow is also pretty hot. Trey is so nimble and quick fingered on his solo in this song, I can't help but enjoy it. His tone also sounds absolutely perfect. What Things Seem is a typical Mike song with eclectic lyrics and a nice bluesy groove that fits nicely in the context of the set.

Roses > It's Ice brings the set nicely back into "standardsville," although there are worse tunes to hear in the middle of a first set. Mountains in the Mist is my personal set highlight. First of all, it is a beautiful song to begin with and one of my favorite ballads. This version however, is spectacular. The jam is tender and melodic, and really demonstrates the emotional depth the band has acquired over their almost 30 year career. An energetic Julius closes out a decent first set. I can understand why some may think it's a little TOO mellow, with lots of slower ballads and a lack of much jamming, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

An above-average (just for 3.0 of course!) Mike's Song opens up Set II, and segues into a surprise Mound. The jam in Weekapaug is melodic with great Trey and Page interplay and a machine gun peak, definitely a highlight of the night so far. Farmhouse follows as the first "cool down" moments in this Set II, but, surprisingly, tonight these are the very moments that shine the brightest. The "jam" (if you want to refer to it as such) in Farmhouse picks up where Mountains left off in the first set. Just absolutely gorgeous playing, much different from the often guitar wankery that can follow such tunes. If you are someone who typically writes-off or skips over tunes such as Farmhouse, I beg you to give this version another listen.

Seven Below -> What's the Use? > Twenty Years Later provides the unquestionable show highlight and the piece of music with the most staying power. Seven Below, perhaps played in response to the cold weather outside the building, melts almost immediately into type II territory from the onset of the jam. As the song winds down around the 3 minute mark, Trey comes in with some weird rhythmic chops while Page solos on the piano and Mike and Fish maintain the bounce of the song proper. Page eventually moves to the clav and Trey continues to play rhythmically. Mike's baseline remains locked into the cadence of the song until around 4 minutes when he breaks free and the band begins to drift into deeper waters and Trey begins to solo. By 5 minutes into the song, the music has already reached a blissful melodic plane with Trey leading the charge. This is dense jamming at it's finest! At 6 minutes he has developed a clear melody that vaguely resembles "What's the Use?" although with a quicker pace and a more uplifting build. This eventually dissolves into brief space before What's The Use? proper begins. Twenty Years Later is an excellent landing pad, although I guess technically the composed WTU is the landing pad to the Seven Below jam, but no matter. It works well in this spot.

Wading in the Velvet Sea… wow! Instead of repeating myself, just reread everything I wrote about Mountains in the Mist and Farmhouse. Listen to this Wading. A trio of set closing tunes; Possum, Cavern, Bowie; finishes the set off in style. The David Bowie, while nothing spectacular, is definitely "above average" for 3.0. Awesome interplay between every instrument. (NOTE: upon multiple listens to this Bowie, I enjoy it more and more every time. Really great playing in this one. Patient.)

Loving Cup sends everyone home with a beautiful buzz, four more shows left in the run. It is my humble opinion that this show is vastly under appreciated. I revisit highlights from this show often - even to this day. There was some phenomenal music played this night - sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper and look in unexpected places to find it.


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