Phish Friday | Post-Hiatus Highlights

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photo by telafree

This week’s Phish Friday selection comes from another Live Music Blog friend, T. Gourdo (“the ‘G’ is soft“). He brings us into the post-hiatus Phish era with a few of his favorite tracks from 2003. And he’s even gone so far as to splice together some of the segues for your “uninterrupted listening pleasure.” As always, remember that you too can be a “Phish Friday” hero. Simply email us your comments and send along your favorite tracks. We hope you enjoy T. Gourdo’s selections and comments. Have an awesome weekend!

The 2nd set of 12/29/03 is perhaps one of my favorite post-hiatus sets, largely because of the awesome 40-minute+ segment of “Twist > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Ghost” and “Free.” These four songs are very well-played, and the first three include incredible segues. This was the 2nd show in the four-night New Years Eve run that capped off their first year back from hiatus. Although there may be other highlights from this year, I would argue that this set is perhaps their most “locked-in” moment. I’ve also included the set-opener, a solid version of the Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll,” to more fully complete this awesome segment.

2nd Set Highlights – 12/29/03 @ American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL (setlist via PT Phish):

Full play-by-play commentary after the jump…


The set starts with “Rock and Roll,” which, dare I say, rocks. However, I would like to concentrate on the next few songs. “Twist” starts off nice and quietly, with Mike laying down the foundation while Trey makes his guitar sing out the bluesy intro riff. You get the feel that they’re really enjoying the sparseness of the song. Three minutes pass before the lyrics even come in. Mike lays down some thick lines during the jam, using an effect I often refer to as “laser bass,” while Trey noodles above him. Around seven minutes into the song, the tempo picks up, and for a while Mike deftly toys with — but doesn’t actually touch — the bassline to “Boogie On Reggae Woman.” Led by the man in the white high tops, they seamlessly lock into the “Boogie On” rhythm and begin the song. Once again, Mike is all over this tune, dropping bass bombs like it’s his job (which, I guess, it fortunately is). Trey’s guitar solo is perfectly executed. They head out of the verses (or should I say verse, since they skipped a bunch of the lyrics) into the jam and like the beginning of “Twist,” they are totally locked in to the groove. Mike switches to a more traditional bass sound at some point and again, starts leading them forward by teasing around the bassline for “Ghost.” The transition into “Ghost” is nothing short of spectacular. When listening to this show, I often rewind just to hear this segue again. You can hear the crowd roar when they realize what has just happened…perhaps further evidence that this may be some of their best ‘post-hiatus’ playing.

The “Ghost” jam starts of pretty quiet and mellow, but rather quickly rocks its way into high gear. While this “Ghost” jam is good, I don’t find it to be all that groundbreaking. “Ghost” eventually quiets down and Trey starts up one of my personal favorite songs: “Free.” There’s nothing quite like the opening notes of a “Free” jam, and Mike once again drops the ‘laser bass’ to get it rolling. As it continues, Mike and Trey head into a downright dirty battle of trading licks, while Fish and Page hold down the rhythm. Eventually, the battle turns into two separate Mike/Trey breakdowns that leave the crowd screaming. The band triumphantly thunders out of the second breakdown into an utterly rocking end of “Free,” and the crowd erupts as Trey and Mike drop one last little lick to end the song. All I can say is “wow.” I wasn’t at this show, but if I was, I can imagine that at this point, I’d be spent! And by this point, it has been a solid 50 minutes since the set started, and this is the first breath they’ve taken.

Please, do yourself a favor: grab your headphones and give it a listen.

  • stan

    thanks, tgourdo, for reminding folks out there of what’s probably the last truly great set the band ever played. after this run, it was vegas, summer, and then retirement.

    as far as the quality of the jamming, i’m going to agree with you that it’s their best stuff post-hiatus. there were some hot moments in the spring (worcester/nassau), but no full sets to rival this miami set.

    what i’m interested in is whether there’s a better-jammed set *pre-hiatus*. yeah, i’m gonna say it. i think this miami show is really some of the best stuff i own. don’t get me wrong: i can look at individual jams and say they’re better. but stack miami as a set against any other set, and miami comes out on top.

  • stan

    thanks, tgourdo, for reminding folks out there of what’s probably the last truly great set the band ever played. after this run, it was vegas, summer, and then retirement.

    as far as the quality of the jamming, i’m going to agree with you that it’s their best stuff post-hiatus. there were some hot moments in the spring (worcester/nassau), but no full sets to rival this miami set.

    what i’m interested in is whether there’s a better-jammed set *pre-hiatus*. yeah, i’m gonna say it. i think this miami show is really some of the best stuff i own. don’t get me wrong: i can look at individual jams and say they’re better. but stack miami as a set against any other set, and miami comes out on top.

  • Wilson

    After the glowing reviw, listening to this – for me – was a god example of how even one of the better post-hiatus shows can miss the full Phish magic. I went ahead and found the whole show. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great listen; something is just missing. The overall flow isn’t quite right. The jams come and go too quickly, sounding forced and thoughtless. Trey’s solos wander over some tired paths, etc. Let me put it this way: The Twist-Boogie-Ghost of Miami ’03 strikes me as a poor man’s 12/11/99.

    http://www.phantasytour.com/phish/shows.cgi?showID=88

    compare the two, and decide for yourself.

  • Wilson

    After the glowing reviw, listening to this – for me – was a god example of how even one of the better post-hiatus shows can miss the full Phish magic. I went ahead and found the whole show. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great listen; something is just missing. The overall flow isn’t quite right. The jams come and go too quickly, sounding forced and thoughtless. Trey’s solos wander over some tired paths, etc. Let me put it this way: The Twist-Boogie-Ghost of Miami ’03 strikes me as a poor man’s 12/11/99.

    http://www.phantasytour.com/phish/shows.cgi?showID=88

    compare the two, and decide for yourself.