Roses May Be Free, But Sanity is Priceless

10.22.10 (Brantley Gutierrez © phish 2010)

Phish rolled into the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence last night; coming off the heels of, arguably, the best show of 3.0. Again, Phish put together an unpredictable setlist featuring peaks of energy all over. The first set was packed with guitar solos and fun songs. The second set had strings of uncommonly connected songs and yet another atypical Mike’s Groove.

The last time Phish played a typical Mike’s Groove (Mike’s Song > I am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove) was on 6/22 in Mansfield — four months ago. The fact that we no longer what to expect once Mike’s Song starts makes shows far more interesting. Last night Sanity took place of Hydrogen’s normal placement, something that has never been done before.

The Show started with Down with Disease, a song we all knew was coming last night or tonight because of the almost never extended 4 show gap. It’s a short, as it often is as an opener, but it certainly rocks. Trey’s licks are coming back to the forefront in old school fashion. But hearing Trey tear up the song last night, every one knew that Trey would be showcasing his improved 3.1 style yet again.

10.22.10 (Brantley Gutierrez © phish 2010)

Keeping with the straight forward rock that just paved the entrance to the show, Trey launched into Funky Bitch. The song really came back into full form at during Alpine’s blazing 1st set rocker, but tonight boasted the Ocedoc’s robust sound. Trey’s guitar sounded so full during this song, it made me remember when I was worried I would never hear that deep of a sound from him again.

Fluffhead followed; it’s hard for me to review Fluffheads now because I have conflicted feelings. I was happy that they brought it back into the first set, where I think it’s suited better. The problem I have with Fluffhead is that they seem to really be overplaying it. I don’t want it to ever be rare, but I also don’t want it in a three song rotation. The reason I have trouble ever criticizing them playing it is because, ever since this summer, Trey wails out of the ending better than I have heard it since 1999. The peaks he now regularly reaches during the outro injects a boost of euphoria into the show that’s hard to match with other songs.

Roses are Free followed, and was obviously welcomed. It sounded far better than the last time they played it; it didn’t sound like they were just learning it again–like some of the recent versions have.

10.22.10 (Brantley Gutierrez © phish 2010)

The rest of the set was pretty standard as they passed through: Rift, Moma Dance > Ocelot, NICU and Sample. Julius closed the set as intense as they opened it. Trey exploded yet again, bookending the Act I of this show with guitar shredding pinnacles.

Phish returned to one of their favorite songs to open second sets with, Rock and Roll. The “Providence Jam” was melodic and well thought, until Trey awkwardly went into another favorite 3.0 song of his–Carini.

Carini really hit it’s stride in the last 2 minutes of the jam–it became thickened by Mike’s bass. The jam started throbbing which turned into My Problem Right There. I love Trey’s new song, and I think the band does too–they all seem to get into it and play it well. I also think every time they play one of Trey’s new songs it highlights the songs they are not playing by the rest of the band. Dr. Gable, Idea, Halfway to the Moon and What Things Seem. Out of those four songs I want to see these, in order from favorite to least: What Things Seem, Idea, Halfway to the Moon, Dr. Gable.

Mike’s Song was straight-forward, par of the course. It went into a fun version of sanity with an interesting outro jam that was started up by Mike with Fish following suit. I was hoping this unexpected hint of improvisation would turn into something bigger, instead it slowly died down while Trey started up a high-energy, short Weekapaug.

Suzy came next–Trey seemed to be lagging behind Page’s fierce ambitions in this particular version. Out of the end, Light unexpectedly followed. Unlike the other versions of this tour, this jam was fairly straight forward that blossomed into more of a hose jam than a spacey one. It’s a beautiful piece to relisten to–they then go back into the end, and while repeating the lyrics, a botched intro to Character Zero emerged that Trey giggled about quietly during the intro. A lot of people thought it would close a shorter-than-usual first set. Instead they dropped into 2001.

2001 is slowly getting a little longer than the summer’s 5 minute versions. The last two are around 7-8 minutes and far more funky. Although this one is not quite as impressive as South Carolina’s, it certainly is still better than any other 3.0 version (not including Camden).

Loving Cup closed the second set with as high energy as the show started, and First Tube was the exclamation point encore.

10.22.10 (Brantley Gutierrez © phish 2010)

See y’all tonight!