6-2-09 - Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, NY
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from Dennis Conroy
date Wed, Jun 3, 2009 at 5:54 AM HST
subject Phish Show Review - 6/2/09 @ Jones Beach
This was my 11th show; my first since Saratoga 6/20/04. SO HAPPY THEY
ARE BACK AND IN GREAT FORM!!!
Each of the guys is individually playing and sounding excellent. Kudos
to Trey for the quality of his vocals overall (especially in "When the
Circus Comes" which was absolutely beautiful last night). As a band, I
am thrilled that they are taking risks in the jams and going after
some of the more complex compositions with a vengeance, like in the
old days. Yes there were a few rusty spots last night, but these were
barely noticeable and should disappear after another couple of shows.
After all, this is just the start of their first tour in almost FIVE
You know, while reading some of the Fenway reviews I noticed a
sarcastic comment in the setlist notes about Light > Bathtub Gin being
the first segue between songs since Coventry. One of my favorite
things about Phish is their ability to transition seamlessly from song
to song. It really keeps the momentum going in a live setting, and
presents opportunities to make our brains explode with the genius of
their improvisational skills. So I was very disappointed last night
when there was not a single segue during all of set one! WTF?! It was
as if Trey was an iPod on random shuffle mode, just calling out
whatever song popped into his head next. (But at least on an iPod you
don't have to wait 30 seconds for the next song to start playing...)
So, I found the first set a bit disappointing overall because there
was no thought or shape whatsoever to the setlist. Don't get me wrong,
each song was played very well, it just wasn't cohesive overall.
"Runaway Jim" was a crowd-pleasing opener, but unless you were in the
primo seats the sound system sucked for about the first 5 minutes of
the show (I might as well have been in the parking lot for Runaway
Jim, 'cause that's what it sounded like: muddy and not very loud).
Prior to the show I was hoping for a well-polished/practiced "Foam"--
I almost got it, except that Trey seemed to have a technical
malfunction with his effects pedals (his guitar tech was out there to
fix it during the set break). Otherwise they held "Foam" together,
which was impressive and gave me confidence that they really are
practicing again! "Cities" was fun and funky and offered good
sing-along material for the crowd. Then they totally kicked ass with a
nearly note-perfect "Reba" (awesome jam) followed by a great
"Possum"!! For me, Reba/Possum was definitely the highlight of Set
One. I've never heard them do "If I Could" live, so that was cool, but
choosing to end the set with this was a lame decision. Also, in my
opinion "Farmhouse" belongs right where it is on the CD, not on the
During the break I reminded myself that there was still a loooong way
to go! I love that feeling at a Phish concert! Surely, the best was
yet to come. Right?
Right!!! SET TWO WAS AWESOME!!! It was as if they were a really
excellent cover band in Set One, the opening act for the REAL band to
emerge for Set Two!!!
The "Mike's Song" jam went into some sick and deranged territory, then
SEGUE(!) into a great and contrasting "Simple", then SEGUE(!) into a
solid "Wolfman's Brother", then SEGUE(!) into a killer "Weekapaug
Groove"! It looked like Fishman surprised Trey with his transition
into Weekapaug--a spontaneous spark that seems so minor, but has a
tremendous effect on the overall performance. "When the Circus Comes"
was so sweet I was almost teary. "Kill Devil Falls" made a very
impressive debut. We should definitely look forward to hearing more of
this tune in upcoming shows. Then "Harry Hood"! Woohoo!!! The art of
the jam was on full display. The opening was very free-form and
ambient, the crowd sing-alongs fun, and the main jam section brought
Trey to some REALLY deep places. He was more *in the zone* than I've
seen him in a long, long time. That was nice. Then another SEGUE(!)
into "Loving Cup" which is a major crowd-pleaser, and gauging by the
band's reaction it's just as much fun for them to look out and watch
us. I love that! Phenomenal way to end a phenomenal set. "Suzy
Greenberg" encore was fantastic, but too short. I could have used
something slow and silly, like "Contact" followed by Suzy, but
whatever. I'm not complaining. Suzy G. was an awesome ending to an
With the exception of the sound problems at the start of the show, I
found Jones Beach to be a pretty sweet venue. No obstructed views. I
think it holds about 14,000 if I'm not mistaken. It's in a beautiful
setting, with harbor/ocean directly behind the stage. We were blessed
last night by skies that cleared at about 7:00pm, followed by a
rainbow (take THAT, Phenway!) at about 7:20pm. The moon was right
above the stage for the entire concert. Beautiful! For those of you
going on 6/4 and 6/5, be forewarned: NO ALCOHOL AT THIS VENUE!! They
appeared to have a *VIP* area with beer for an additional exorbitant
fee, but the restricted area is way off to the side of the stage in a
seemingly crappy location. Better off arriving early and tailgating.
Cops were visible and making arrests, but they were mostly ignoring
the drinkers. And besides, those lots are huge. (Technically no booze
allowed in parking lots, but I think that's more for daytime
beach-goers.) Staff inside the venue was friendly and low-key.
Have a great tour everyone!!!!!!!!
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