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Wednesday, June 13

Buried Alive in Worcester: Phish Convincingly Slays Night 1

Trey Anastasio - Worcester 6.7.12 By: Boston Globe
The beginning of tour is usually a time where I am more amped than any time of my life. This one took some convincing after I was fairly unimpressed by the band’s playing for the first time when seeing them at MSG this past winter. They appeared to be a strange shell of themselves as a band, but that all changed on Thursday night. Phish tore apart Worcester, displaying two heaters from top to bottom.  The first night you could feel the energy pouring into the town of Worcester as heads started to roll into town. It was obvious that the crowd was a bit more sparse than it would be on Friday, but those who were there were primed for raging and actually had little expectations. This may have been key, because Phish threw down right out of the gate.

The start of tour with Buried Alive>Runaway Jim had me excited from the get go. While Jim didn’t get the jam treatment that it has in past years in the Centrum, it did get an inspired early set one jam that flowed right into a down tempo’d rendition of Torn and Frayed. Energy was literally visible in the air and the flow of vibes from the band to the audience was perfected.  Funky Bitch, Moma Dance and Rift were played to normality, but excitement continued in the audience as well as on stage. Trey’s licks were right on and the band was responding perfectly. There were plenty of points where Trey was able to sit back and let the band do work around him, to which he also responded perfectly. Let’s just say that Phish was already looking like a totally different band that the one that fell flat this past winter.  This next segment of Nothing, Ocelot and Beauty of a Broken Heart was one of those moments that I don’t really understand about Phish over the past few years: taking a high sense of energy that they built up and sucking it right out of the crowd. The jam in Ocelot was well played, complete with some steady funk leading up to the peak. Otherwise, this segment was really the only down point of the show.  The energy came right back to full force with an inspired Possum. While there may have been a bit of a collective groan throughout the audience by getting Possum after it was abused in 2011, this rendition was well played and tinkered around with. There were several sections where Trey sat back and let the band form the groove around him while he added clever licks and kept things interesting. I was thoroughly impressed about how they were able to take a normally upbeat ripper and bring it to all spectrums going up, down left, right and everywhere in between. The set ended in classic fashion with Rocky Top, a nod to the state of Tennessee which they would be off to later in the weekend. Set one was in the books and there was a definite positive feeling, but also some room for things to take off…By taking off I never thought we’d get the type of big jam, funky treatment that we got. This was classic, vintage Phish with some new sound thrown in for good measure. Carini>Taste>Ghost>Boogie On Reggae Woman. Yowzers. 
Carini went type II and extended over 12 minutes long. Phish took a page out of their 2011 playbook by starting up the second set with a hot Carini. This one may have been better than any of the ones from last year. I thought at one point we’d see Page on Theremin, but it was unnecessary. This jam was ON. It melted right into a fantastic Taste, which included Norwegian Wood teases. Page started of Taste out of Carini with perfection. It bled psychedelically into a Ghost that was reminiscent to some of the monsters from the late ‘90s with a slow intro that had the DCU Center completely bonkers.

I remember looking over at good ol’ Jonny Clair and he had a sweaty look of disbelief. He made several comments about he was seeing some o the best Phish he had been able to see in person. I agreed and still do. This was absolute fire to the utmost level.  The jam went over 14 minutes featured some of the best Ghost jamming I've heard them play since the comeback. There was ambiance, bliss, raging guitar and funk. It probably could have gone even further, but in genius fashion Mike dropped some heavy hitting bombs that led the direction of the song into probably the best Boogie on Reggae Woman of 3.0. This was a 12 minute funkensnorg that had hints of Ghost’s jam thrown in along with a clear Guy Forget tease. I was about as amazed as you can get.  After about 50 minutes of the best funky Phish possible, they took it down a notch with If I Could. I was fine with this, and I spent the next 10 minutes saying things like “Holy Crap” to my friends around me. I gathered the pieces of my brain on the filthy Centrum floor just before they picked things up again with Quinn the Eskimo. The show continued to amaze me with a great, exploratory Harry Hood. In 2010, Hood was the highlight of the Worcester run and the beginning of the plinko jamming experiment. This didn't hold quite the same level of greatness, but it was an outstanding jam with plenty of exploratory jamming leading up to the peak.  Phish blasted into Cavern right at the end of Hood and it was played in its usual fashion. Trey announced that would see everyone tomorrow night and we all thought things were done or the night. All of a sudden Page starts up Buried Alive and they go into the reprise. It was savagely played with Trey playing in a slightly higher key than normal. It was the icing on the cake of a completely bonkers first night.  Phish encored with Loving Cup, but the heat had already been brought. It capped off another great summer opener. Last year Phish attacked Bethel with precision. This year they took the destruction indoors in Worcester, a place where they seem to take their game to a whole new level. With one night left, I suddenly had high expectations after entering with none whatsoever. 
Thanks for coming back Phish.

Words: Bobby Martin
Phish Examiner and Grateful Music Contributor

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