By Kid Dynamite
We returned for Night II at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ, with my buddy Dan and his wife, and Mitch, the Mayor of South Central Jersey. We’d get stopped every 100 yards in the parking lot by someone saying hi to Mitch, faces from the past. A vicious hail storm 45 minutes earlier seemed to be done with, and our walk from the parking lot to the venue was uneventful.
The second night started off with one of my favorite Phish pure energy progressive rockers: First Tube. I think we needed it to be darker (I mean, literally – less sunlight), and to have a bit of a warm up – I’m not a huge fan of First Tube as an opener, but it certainly set the tone for the night. I wrote yesterday about Phish’s ability to create energy with non-lyrical songs, and First Tube epitomizes what I was talking about.
Stealing Time and Camel Walk were treading water, for me, and the show seemed low key when it continued with Heavy Things and Gotta Jibbo. Pauly texted me that it sounded like a Summer 1999 show, aside from Faulty Plan, and I guess he was right. I like Heavy Things and Jibbo, but they aren’t energy heavyweights.
That changed with Wilson, another pure anthem, with the euphoric refrain,
“I must inquire Wilson – can you still have fun?”
The crowd was fired up, and although Seven Below put a momentary chill on the buzz, Kill Devil Falls brought it back up to fever pitch. We were 18 rows back, Fish side, and I could actually read Mike’s lips when he told Fishman: “Axilla,” which sizzled.
Dan went to get a beer late in Split Open and Melt, sure that it was the set closer, but that error in judgement cost him as Suzy Greenberg closed the set. Page was absolutely on FIRE during Suzy, which of course, is another energy explosion of a song.
Set Two was definitely the “not fucking around crew,” opening with Tweezer, a tight, dirty version, which eventually segued into Led Zeppelin’s No Quarter, which was a treat, and had the crowd going insane, despite the slow nature of the song. Carini, next, was filthy funk, followed by Piper, Twist, and Ghost – all of which Dr. Pauly and I had discussed as likely setlist inclusions.
Backwards Down the Number Line closed the set, and has become a seriously tight jamming vehicle. The last several minutes of the song were a resonant jam, cresting intensely with the quality of a set-closer.
Show of Life was a genuine “thank you” from Trey, although I think the crowd would rather be thanked with songs they prefer more. Tweezer Reprise, the second and final encore did what it always does: blew up the joint and sent the crowd home wanting more.
All in all, a great two nights. I have to listen to the shows at home – more than one person said “sounds like night 2 must have been much better,” but I’m not so sure.