The group returned for the second set with a tight Kill Devil Falls that was the only standard version of a tune Phish would play that set. Once the band started the Tweezer that followed all bets were off. As soon as the Tweezer jam began it was clear this wasn’t a typical Tweezer as Mike and Trey hooked up on a number of interesting themes before settling on a cool chord progression that sounded somewhat like the Bruno song they busted at Coventry. Eventually, Anastasio stepped to the mic adding vocal accents that I couldn’t quite make out.
After this funky start to the Tweezer jam, Anastasio fired up the Languedoc for an intense shredding session. At other points in 2009, the other members of the band would’ve been content to follow Trey’s lead but Mike Gordon had a different plan. As the Shredmaster General went to town, Gordon turned on his Lovetone Meatball pedal and essentially started soloing. With Mike and Trey both playing lead, Page and Fish held it together on the clav and drums respectively which really allowed the two soloists to shine. Anastasio even threw some Manteca licks into the mix which elicited big cheers from the adoring crowd.
This was a very layered jam as Anastasio even took the time to set a delay loop to add to this musical stew. Soon enough, Gordon made another brilliant maneuver and started leading the improv into a major key for a jam that was more beauty than funk. It took Trey a good minute or two to pick up on what Mike was doing, but when he did we got into a jam space that the band hadn’t entered since their return. Think What’s The Use? meets Prince Caspian in outer space. Each band member did their part to push this improv to great heights before Caspian started.
Prince Caspian isn’t exactly the most popular Phish song. The band used Caspian as a second set “cool off” tune extensively since 1996 and it’s never been a launching pad for improvisation. Last night’s version of Caspian was a bit different. Hot off the heels of the tasty pre-Prince C. jam, Anastasio lit into his solo with passion and verve. Towards the end of his solo Trey played about as many notes in a 10 second period as I’ve ever heard from him. He was En Fuego. Once the solo had built to a close, Anastasio decided he hadn’t had enough and fired off some more quick runs that sent jaws dropping around the venue.
Night two set two of the Miami run was all about the unexpected and there was no bigger surprise than the madness that went down during Gotta Jibboo. From the start of the song it was clear this wasn’t a typical Jibboo as Anastasio was adding all sorts of rhythmic accents to the normal part he plays during the chorus and verses. After taking a few rings around the rosie, Trey let McConnell – who asserted himself throughout this concert and wins tonight’s Hidden Track MVP award – take the lead and Page delivered. McConnell came up with all sorts of inventive riffs during his part of the Jibboo solo and Trey couldn’t contain his giddiness. Trey and Page traded off control of the solo a few times before Trey kicked on both his Tube Screamers and unleashed a couple of stinging leads. Anastasio played with the rhythm a little bit before landing on an open E chord which he used to segue into Wilson.
The boys have been really into Wilson of late and this version allowed them to release all of the energy they built up over the first hour of the set. After Trey sang the “blat-boom” bit he started soloing into a familiar pattern. To the surprise and delight of the audience, Anastasio led his bandmates back into Jibboo. That’s right – Gotta Jibboo > Wilson > Gotta Jibboo, we all go to shows for moments like that. Once again, Trey and Page pushed and pulled through another few minutes of Jibboo-ing. Anastasio liked the way the Wilson went so much he tried to segue again into another tune – Heavy Things. This segue didn’t work out as well, but you’ve gotta credit the band for trying.
Again, Heavy Things wasn’t the typical five-minute pop song it usually is. Because of the way the band wound up segueing into the tune it was played at a different, more groovy pace than usual. Trey was really getting a kick out of the medium pace and laid down some stellar riffs which kept building and building to a massive peak that had yet to be seen in a Heavy Things. Next up was 2001, a song that Phish has generally rushed through in 2009. I guess they didn’t have anywhere to go as they took their time running through each segment allowing their fans ample dancing time. Out of the space the band created at the end of tune came a majestic Slave to the Traffic Light.
Slave has seen a renaissance as of late with some of the best versions of the tune coming in 2009. The last Traffic Light of ’09 was another gem thanks to the patient build and intensity of the jam. In the late ’90s, Trey really enjoyed playing arpeggios throughout the jam in lieu of shredding. This Slave had plenty of shredding through leading to a huge build up and release that brought this magical set to a close. A tender as fuck Sleeping Monkey started the encore before Tweezer Reprise gave everyone one last chance to rage.
Overall the second night of the Miami run was a fine show worthy of past December 29th shows. Phish is playing really well these days and nearly everyone in the venue had to break the bank to get down to Florida – a heady mix of loyalty and intensity that should continue to deliver over the next two nights. The quartet returns to the American Airlines Arena this evening.