With Phish taking a couple day break before heading back to the Northeast to play in Maine Tuesday night, I figured this would be a good time to reflect on the state of the tour so far.
So far, the MVP has been Trey–as I have said since ACL, he has come back to the road with impressive control and creativity with his new guitar. He has been using different effects that have added to the overall jam, rather than distracted. He has been taking courageous leads with the execution that lacked in a lot of shows over the summer. At least twice so far, Trey has been the one to push a jam farther than most expected it to go (he obviously is usually guilty of the opposite): Broomfield Moma Dance where Fish thought they were ending it and SC 2001 where Page thought they were going into the last instrumental refrain.
One frustrating aspect of the recent shows is that I feel they are trying to cram too many songs into the second set. When they cram so many songs in, it there is less time for real improvisation. The silver lining, however, is the fact that they are segueing in and out of songs better than they have all of 3.0 thus far.
First sets have been high energy and quite thrilling every night. Playing unexpected songs in the first set like Sand, Tweezer, Buffalo Bill and Dog Faced Boy keeps everyone on their toes. The Sand and Tweezer beefed up their ability to boast improvisation in the first set despite lacking some improv in the second sets.
Phish also came back with two new songs–What Things Seem and The Problem Right There. Both are welcome additions in their own ways; while The Problem Right There has emerged twice in the second set (segueing out of other songs: Twist and Makisupa), I wouldn’t mind seeing it being moved to the first set. If that song moves to the first set, I would love to see What Things Seem be moved into the second set, a song that could be segued into so easily–the way Mike’s bass starts the song (click below to hear).
It will be interesting to see if they continue to play Quinn the Eskimo; it has been played three times since Telluride. I also hope they continue playing Page’s I Been Around; it would be really cool if they actually opened up a show with it.
Some songs that are definitely coming are the obvious 3.0 heavyweights: Rock and Roll and Drowned. I am perfectly happy with them staying on the back burner, but we all know that they loom heavy going into Augusta’s one night stand tomorrow evening. I also expect to see a 20 Years Later between now and Utica. When 20 Years Later was first played, I didn’t think too much of it–when they dripped into it after the Blossom Number Line, I fell in love with it. Every time they played it since I liked it. Maybe a dark Rock and Roll > 20 Years Later second set journey in Maine?
Stay tuned tomorrow night for show updates!