Saturday, December 12, 2009

Phinally a Phish show

You know I've never tried to hide my desire to see every live act I possibly can outside of pop-country, slow-jam contemporary R & B or Creed before I shake off this mortal coil. My war chest is eclectic. Scatter-brained even. It all started with the Bee Gees for my 10th birthday. Followed in succession by Pat Benetar (opened by Billy Squier), Foreigner, Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne's "Diary of a Madman" tour, Journey and The Fixx. In high school it was The Who, INXS, John Cougar, Violent Femmes, Robert Plant, Suicidal Tendencies, The Pretenders, P.I.L. and David Bowie.

And I love three things above all: a great vocalist with charisma, a sick guitarist and great hooks that sound good loud. So it was inevitable that I'd want to see Trey Anastasio work the magic on his Languedoc guitar eventually. And I wanted to hear it within the context of the band that made him phamous and not in one of his side projects. I certainly never expected the economy would tank to such a degree that I would be able to score a $20.00 ticket off the street for a Phish reunion show at MSG, an hour before curtain! but maybe the concert gods were giving me a break after a lifetime of investing in the music industry.

Either way, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. They stepped on stage a little past 8:00 on a Wednesday and came out of the blocks with "AC/DC Bag" and with plenty of energy. A good sign. It was an uptempo set that juiced up the Garden immediately. I was surrounded by the phaithful and after a first tour phollowing a long hiatus there was a real sense of excitement despite the miserable cold, rainy conditons on the streets outside. The guitar work was first rate without a doubt. But the overall atmosphere was something unique. The light show was incredible. Certainly one of the best I have ever seen. And the crowd's enthusiasm between songs was sonic. There are some bands that light a fire under their phaithful that result in arena-quaking applause and whooping and these guys have it. The only other bands I've heard that could elicit such unbridled appreciation from their phans are Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Jane's Addiction, NIN and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The crowd was loud as hell. And "aromatic", smoke-wise. It was one of the longer arena shows I've seen at 3 hours plus and featured a couple of moving cover songs by Frank Zappa and The Beatles. You deliver 2 full sets of guitar-based rock, throw in a little Zappa (who covers Zappa?!) and close it out with "A Day in the Life" on the very stage that John Lennon recorded his "Live in New York City" concert and you've got my attention. A phine evening all around.

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