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Review by SplitOpenAndMalt
After a year and a half of anticipation, I made my return to live Phish last night. Arriving in the campground and walking through the lot did nothing but help escalate that anticipation-- it just felt like Phish was really back. Me and my buddy settled in our seats in the Pav before a ripping Carini opener that really set the tone for the show: up-tempo, aggressive, and exceptionally in-sync. Carini's nice jam section is succeeded by a traditional yet well-played Type I Wolfman's before my personal Set I Highlight of Sand. Page sounded unbelievably on-point and for the first time in a long time I was actually able to hear the cues that each other member was setting for eachother courtesy of Fishman's pacing abilities. Lawn Boy is always fun to hear and set the stage for a light Kasvot Vaxt interlude with WACTOOB. Tube picked the jamming back up ever so slightly with a six minute version that highlighted Trey's contemporary funk. Nellie Kane and Horn brought the tone of the set down as they approached set break with, in my opinion, a forgettable and semi-flawed Rift. The Wedge gave us a nice and short jammed out version before a beast of a WotC with a substantially exciting Silent Trees jam to take us into set break on a really high note.
The second set of this show is really what set this one apart. AC/DC Bag was a fun opener that got the guys playing together and the crowd moving before transitioning into Blaze On. This Blaze On may arguably be the definitive best version of the song ever played-- innumerable sections that allowed all four of them to open up and dive deeper and deeper into the jam. It evolved into a light Type II jam highlighted by multiple Page sections that sound nearly immaculate and this could possibly be my Jam of the Tour so far. After nearly half an hour, the jam took a cool down song with Wilson, which, of course, was still substantially fun from the crowd perspective-- I mean, who doesn't love the chant? They dove right back into their Blaze On form, though, with another scorching Simple clocking in at just under 25 minutes of pure synchronous harmony. Trey's 4.0 guitar was probably the highlight here-- the whole jam portion had a psychedelic-funk feel to it that continued to evolve in an unforced manner. Oh, there wasn't enough face-melting this set? That's fine, they'll just play Hood. And I did in fact feel good about this Hood, with each intersecting jam period between the vocals providing the tenacity and high energy expected of an exceptional version. The set closed out with the second-ever I Never Needed You Like This Before, a fun ode to the crowd completing an absolute masterpiece of a set.
The three song encore was a fun one, too-- definitely super cool to get a Sanity as an encore and Limb by Limb gave the band one more chance to showcase their soft jamming abilities. Santos was an incredibly exciting finale-- we were sitting on Page Side and everyone was getting out the last of their dancing until the show tomorrow. Quite a fitting ending to an unbelievable show.
Fishman's sample pad put it the best-- "YEAH". We headed back to the campground for a night of socializing and resting before the Saturday show, but this one will be a tough one to beat and will certainly be constantly on repeat on my LivePhish app for years to come. Until tomorrow!