Words by: Brian Bavosa | Images by: Dave Vann
Phish :: 06.07.09 :: Susquehanna Bank Center :: Camden, NJ
To close out their northeast leg of the early summer, Phish rolled into Camden, NJ, site of many memorable shows over the years. For instance, perhaps a nod to the now-lauded version from 07.10.99, "Chalkdust Torture" kicked things off and set the tone for the rest of the evening. "Fee" was a nice treat, although Trey did miss a lyric, which saw him mouth an expletive and explain that he "really did know the words backstage." The band made up for the slight miscue by playing a somewhat exploratory jam, similar to the icicle-type jam of 07.08.99 in Virginia Beach.
|Phish :: 06.07.09 :: Camden, NJ|
A funky "Wolfman's Brother," a rare tune that I truly felt got better post-hiatus, was performed with near perfection. The first "Guyute" back brought us to Fishman singing lead on "My Sweet One," which dropped us into the meat of the set. "46 Days" was rocking, however, the highlights of set one were definitely the one-two-three punch of "The Lizards," "The Wedge" and "Strange Design." Each one is a goosebump inducing number, and as the sun had set over the picturesque Philadelphia skyline to my left, I simply got lost in the beauty these tunes conjured. There were a few missed notes here and there, especially in "Lizards," but it barely mattered as one of the most appreciated Gamehendge tunes soared.
Immediately following that was a song many people had patiently been waiting for, the deliciously funky "Tube." Offering some great work by McConnell on the keys and synths, this version kept feet moving and asses shaking. "First Tube" closed out the set with all of the high energy rock and loopy guitar sounds that this tune is known for.
The second set witnessed, at times, some of the best playing of the tour, and by far the biggest risks taken. "Sand" was a bit dull at first, but as the band turned like a worm, they shifted into uncharted territory and really built a theme around Gordon's heavy bass. "Suzy Greenburg" again showcased McConnell's chops before "The Horse > Silent in the Morning" allowed us to catch our breath. Always fun, poignant and quick, this pair is often better placed in the first set, but seemed to carry things relatively well in this slot.
|Anastasio :: 06.07.09|
The debut of "Sugar Shack," a super funky Gordon song that screams of the author's quirkiness, should definitely grow into a fan favorite. A rocking "Character Zero" continued with the fist pumping of the rather rambunctious Sunday night crowd before quite possibly the best jam of the summer, "Tweezer." As if drawing on the energy of Philly from across the river, "Tweezer" was deep, dark and mysterious. Like "Sand," the band really dug in for this one and moved into unexplored areas, peaking with a super jam that was on par with Jones Beach's "Drowned" (read the Jones Beach review here). Basically, it felt the way "Tweezer" should - that at any moment the song could come to life and eat you alive. A great ending to a super solid show.
However, the band wasn't quite done. Trey talked about how much fun the band was having, his love for the Philadelphia Flyers, and how they didn't want to leave the northeast. It was in a simple gesture like this that I realized the band was back, taking things seriously and simply enjoying themselves, which, if it continues, will ensure Phish will live on and grow stronger with each and every show. Then, they debuted another poppy tune, "Joy," which features Anastasio's vocals, which have proven a high point on the ballads this tour. "Bouncin' Around the Room" filled the second encore slot and had heads bobbin' with this love/hate song before "Run Like An Antelope" and "Tweezer Reprise" absolutely shifted everyone's soul into high gear. The band raced and raced and then raced some more, leaving everything they had on the stage with these two. "Tweezer Reprise" is simply the greatest closing tune of all time, in my opinion, and can only be described with one word: RAGING.
Overall, after the northeast leg of the early summer saw Phish deliver some awesomely spectacular shows, with Camden's effort ranking near the top of the list. Some huge jams, some semi-bustouts, and the fact that the band seems comfortable are all good signs for the rest of the summer.
Next up, the southern swing, which sees me hop off (and another JamBase scribe jump on), before picking back up next week at the fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis, MO. 'Til then...
Phish :: 06/07/09 :: Susquehanna Bank Center :: Camden, NJ
Set I: Chalkdust Torture, Fee, Wolfman's Brother, Guyute, My Sweet One, 46 Days, The Lizards, The Wedge, Strange Design, Tube, First Tube
Set II: Sand, Suzy Greenberg, Limb By Limb, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Sugar Shack^, Character Zero, Tweezer
Encore: Joy^, Bouncing Around the Room, Run Like An Antelope, Tweezer Reprise
^ - First Time Played
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