that this has all been wonderful, but now I’m on my way,
but when I think it’s time to leave it all behind,
I try to find a way, but there’s nothing I can say to make it stop."
– Down with Disease, Phish
12.02.03 The Fleet Center, Boston, MA
Set I (1:20): Harry Hood, Cavern, Birds of a Feather, Ya Mar, Horn, Piper, Anything But Me, Water in the Sky, Down With Disease
Set II (1:30): Rock and Roll > Weekapaug Groove > Tweezer Reprise, Frankenstein > Kung > Frankenstein, All of These Dreams, The Wedge, Boogie On Reggae Woman > Cities, Maze, Waste
Rumors, rumors, rumors. This was one of the biggest hyped Phish shows and rumors were flying everwhere. I heard them all! Carlos Santana to play with the boys. They were going to do a set with the Giant Country Horns. They were going to cover the entire Sgt. Pepper’s album. They were going to do three sets. Page broke up with his wife. They were going to do four, each led by one of the members. And in the end, they were all rumors and the show was hyped. I was excited, but reserved because I knew that Boston could just be a regular Phish show… nothing to special or fancy. That’s what happened the last show before the hiatus at Shoreline 10.7.00. Rumors were floated that Phish was going to play three sets and play the entire Beatles Abbey Road. Alas, the did not play three sets, only two, just like every other show on that tour. It was one of the coldest days of the year and all I could think about was how fucking hot it was (111 degrees) in the parking lot at the Phoenix 7.7.03 show with Molly to start the summer tour. Because it was so freakin old, there was no lot scene. I headed inside as fast as I could. I did not like the Fleet Center at all. It was the weakest venue of the tour and normally I’m not fond of drunk and rowdy Boston crowds.
Set 1: I arrived solo and found my seat on page side. I called Harry Hood to open the show. I figured why not, right? It was flat, but they picked up some steam as it went along. Page sounded great early on. They seemed to be bored with it and just kinda ended it quickly. I burnt my finger smoking a bowl during Hood. Cavern is an old favorite of mine, going back to the dark days of Phish. Mike sounded great. Trey flubbed the lyrics. Did he forget them? Birds of a Feather was next and I have liked the recent versions. Fishman sounded great on the backbeat on a fairly quick and frantic version. The jam out was nice. Ya Mar is a nice song to hear. I almost forgot about it. My favorite part is when Trey yells "Play it Leo!" Then Page goes off on a nice piano solo. At the end of the song, they were teasing some tune that I cannot recall the name! Horn is an old standard and I have nothing more to say about that. Piper is a song that I used to love to hear. But after a while I got sick of hearing it and the jams that they used to pull out irked me more than it got me moving. I wasn’t expecting much and I puffed down. But they did make some nice twists and turns in the jam. I thought I heard a Cross Eyed & Painless tease. A girl named Jade who sat in front of me was from Colorado. She had plenty of kind Bs, but didn’t have anything to smoke it out of. I had a one hitter that I bought before the Nassau show and she kept packing it and passing it back to me. Piper was alright. Some parts were actually pretty good, but other parts I lost interest. I think Zobo declared that Anything But Me (or All of These Dreams) was one of the worst Phish songs ever. I kinda like both tunes, but I think the placement of Anything But Me was off. Water in the Sky is one of those country Phish songs that gets the Phishy chicks hootin and hollerin and dancing like crazy. And I love Phishy chicks. The best thing about Phishy chicks... is that I get older, but they stay the same age! Fishman sounded good. I was hoping for something hot to close the set. I got bored with the song selection shortly after Ya Mar. I was surprised to hear Down with Disease to close the set. It was the first repeat of the tour, but it still kicked my ass. Everyone was shouting: "Waiting for the time when I can finally say… that this has all been wonderful, but now, I’m on my way. But when I think it’s time to leave it all behind, I try to find a way, but there’s nothing I can say to make it stop!"
Setbreak: There was a special video perspective set up on a screen that came down from behind the band after they left the stage after Down with Disease, about thirty minutes in length, and showed clips of random moments during the last twenty years of Phish. It opened up with the boys performing Fluffhead in someone’s dormroom circa 1984 and included highlights from all random places along the way. It was touching and moving and I shared the memories with all of my friends that could not make it to the show.
Set 2: 10:31 pm… I wondered what was going on backstage? They must of smoked something nice because, the boys came out and ripped out my favorite Velvet Underground song Rock and Roll. It was one of the best version I heard since MSG 12.29.98 and at Vegas 10.31.98. Page was superb on vocals and I was hoping to hear it at Nassau. Trey had a sweet solo before they went off into a crazy Type II jamming session and everyone took turns ripping It up for an almost twenty minute version. Mike laid out some heavy shit about fourteen minutes in and they smoked the jam back into to close the song before the segued abruptly into Weekapaug Groove! It’s rare to hear Weekapaug without a Mike’s Song at some point before. But it was a quickie version and it got the crowd moving and hopping around before they completed Tweezer Reprise, which they never played the night before! Trey was jumping up and down acting like a rock star while they jammed it out. Trey started singing the first line to Mike’s Song "Trapped in time," and cranked right into a fat Frankenstein! I kept thinking about one of the best Frankensteins I ever saw... at the Gorge 8.3.97 with Senor and Jay Sheer. We hung out on the floor about ten rows back in front of Trey. I was so fucked up I kept forgetting that the show was outdoors. I’d look up and see a sky peppered with stars and laugh at myself. As always Fishman nailed the drum solo and then they snuck a Kung in there before the finished up the Frankenshmoo sandwich after a run of 35 straight minutes of playing. All of These Dreams was a perfect smoke a bowl song. Jade, girl from Colorado had been passing back packed bowls all set, and we both power smoked while I tried to scratch together the setlist. "I love The Wedge!" she screamed when the started playing The Wedge. "We’re bobbing on the surface!" is one of my favorite lines and I realized that I was pretty banged up at that point! It was my first one since the classic July 4th show at Lakewood in Atlanta that I saw with Angela. Mike’s bass intro to Boogie On Reggae Woman was downright funky as shit. For a weird white boy, he can sure bust out the funk. That was the highlight of the show for me and they didn’t draw out the jam and jumped right into Cities, another cover song! I particularly like the Talking Heads covers that Phish plays. I always think of Zobo when they play Cities. They ended it quickly and Fishman went to the high hat. Maze was coming. And Trey ripped the shit out of the solo. It was long and I thought they would close with it, but threw out a Waste. Thank God that wasn’t the encore. I would drove back to NYC pissed! I really like Bug so I was not disappointed with the encore. It was probably the best one all tour. I always chuckle when I shout the lyric "Over rated!" I thanked Jade for the Bs. She thanked me for the bowl and I made a quick exit listening to the post-show music Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band playing on the PA. It was cold walking back to my rental car and all I could think about was how warm it was going to be in Miami for the four show run down there! No more multiple city runs. Four shows, four nights, one city. Get ready! And Trey, will you finally fucking play Tube for me?!?!?!
Afterthoughts: On the drive up, I silently reflected on as many of the 132 previous Phish shows that I had seen. I can recall at least 100 of them... almost 40 shows with Angela! The remainder are a blur. Too many memories... enough to fill two or three books with! Japan was definitely the greatest Phishy momemt, with Big Cypress a close second. The second set was fucking crazy. A lot of covers and I like how they played Weekapaug without Mike's Song and finished up Tweezer Reprise from the night before. I kinda figured that the show would not be as great as everyone expected. There were no special guests, but the video montage was cool. I hope they release it somewhere so you all get a chance to see it (and I'd like to see it again... the sound was muffled so it faded in and out). But musically, Phish played the best they played all tour. The first set in Nassau was hot. The entire Philly show was great. The second half of the first set and the first half of the second set in Albany was a nice bit of Phish. And the second set in Boston was definitely worth hearing. I'm getting pumped for Miami!