For some reason, when I pictured Pittsburgh, I didn't think of hills and mountainous regions but that's just what it is; the city is a hill, on a hill with hills all around it. But Phishburgh went on in style with a blistering opener and rockin' "My Soul" followed by a keyboard heavy, "NICU" Rage on Page. "Halley's Comet" came in with some doo-wop stylings from the Fab Four. I easily found a ticket outside and inside the show seemed far from sold out, everyone must be heading to NYC, for the Bakers Dozen, which is bound to be filled with mind blowing music and stellar set lists.
The new tilting light fixtures were showed off, interesting set up but still far away from the Red Hot Chili Peppers new lighting rig. Although "Halleys Comet" has a tight structure and jam, the lyrics well, not so much. But this one always goes into type II fairly quickly. Sick transition into "Undermined" which was deep dark and funky.
First set is already more up beat than the previous nights
performance in Ohio. Weak ending to "Undermind" but still solid all around.
"Divided Sky" shows complete mastery in technical ability from all the players; blistering with improvisation and raw energy; beautiful and flowering as ever. Some sort of mike song; I had never hear it before, reggae influenced. It wasn't my favorite but a nice break for those that wished to take one. Found out later it is called "Marissa" and was a Phish debut. Next was "Home" with a great jam into a "Prince Caspian" which turns out to be one of the best of all time. One for the ages. It started off slow but I truly like this song, it gets stuck in my head but it may be because I'm a fan of Narnia. I still think Gamehenge and The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday could make a killer live action movie with many of the songs taking on a life of their own already. "Prince Caspian" had wings and was by far the best jam of the tour, so far!
"Punch You In The Eye" begins the second set; we were all waiting for this! Mike and Trey do their dance. The change into the next song was ambient, long and intricate, a jam that could take this band and crowd anywhere, showing real improvisational elements. Drops into "Mr. Completely" which hasn't been played in 14 years. The next few songs were slower and included another debut "Come Together" no, not the Beatles song. This led right into a funky "Contact." I have never appreciated the lyrics to this song but the music is intricate and difficult and it has a lot to offer from: great solos to musical qualities, even audience participation. A quick but great rendition of "Axilla" into "Steam" which felt like a long, slow jam coming but that went quickly into "Backwards Down The Number Line" a complete and utter Phish classic. Who can't help but think of all their friends, family and loved ones when this song plays? They certainly know how to end a song. They always bring the heat toward the end of a performance.
The encore was lackluster but included "Rocky Top" which is always an awesome way to close out a show. We stopped as the precession of buses came by. We all waved at Trey but he had his back to us. One of the buses was broke down on the side of the highway in the way out.
I will be doing at least one night at MSG and truly hope we see a Phish that is taking chances, trying new things and improvising. I hope they blow the roof off of MSG and do it right! Don't forget about the phans guys! See you freaks there.
Jam Band Purist
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.