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Sand Trey teases the song before the band starts in earnest, so knowing fans must've had their hopes up for this one. The band takes its time constructing the composed portion at the beginning before moving into some nice staccato jamming. With such a solid groove, this song can go many places, and has room enough for all the band members to explore simultaneously while the main theme remains in place. Solid playing by all, though nothing transcendent.
Simple I've loved this since I first heard it back before A Live One came out. Maybe it's because I was in a couple of bands at the time, adding some poignancy to the line "We've got it simple, 'cause we've got a band," or maybe it's the wordplay of "skyballs and saxscrapers", appealing to my inner English major. Either way, I never tire of this song. This version plows through the composed section nearly seamlessly, ending up in an open-feeling ambiance punctuated by Gordon's trippy bass effects and laid in a blanket of Page's synth sounds, with an underpinning of gentle and slightly jazzy drumming from Fish.
Steam Rising out of "Simple"'s ambience is "Steam," a song with serious potential, spinning a solid funky groove, and demonstrating one of the nicer things about the way this band plays. At various points we find Trey soloing fairly furiously, while simultaneously allowing enough room for Page to lay down his own solo of sorts, while Mike twists the bass line and Fishman maintains an evolving rhythmic center point. The whole thing coheres, despite a feeling that it could all careen apart at any moment, and then everyone falls right back into the pocket of the song's main theme. And just when you might think that "Makisupa Policeman" might be next, you're reminded of the alphabetical theme of the night and they launch into. . .
Soul Shakedown Party While more effective as a festive set opener, here it serves well as a fun breather after the last three songs (all exceeding ten minutes in length). Then, before you know it. . .
Seven Below This song epitomizes the better songs of the Round Room era. A slightly clinical airiness to the composed section can evoke the notion of a wintery field, though this time out, we get the feeling of children frolicking in the snow. Lots of flourishes by Trey and Page over a driving rhythm section. It's kind of amazing how the band can manage to pull a song to a little over ten minutes without veering very far away from the main theme. This one ends in the sort of ambient stasis that the Phish of this era has often used to bring songs to a close without venturing into unforeseen territory. At times it feels like a cop-out - especially if you're a fan that wants a return of the way-out jams of the late '90s or early 2000s - but since they likely weren't feeling it anymore, this is a nice way of moving on to something else cleanly.
Suzie Greenberg Ever since Phish played this with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, it feels like they've been playing it every other show, and it's lost some of its verve for me. That said, this is a good version of a song that they never seem to screw up.
Scents and Subtle Sounds With a more raucous beginning rather than the gentle build found on the intro track of Undermind, none of "Suzie"'s energy is lost as they ease into what could be a jumping off point for the deep-space jam that half the crowd was probably waiting for at this point. Per the recipe of this song, they skillfully bring that energy down, focus it, and build it right back up before batting it around in a high-pitched frenzy, letting it ebb and then leap a few times before steering the aircraft in for a firm landing. Class A type I jamming.
Slave to the Traffic Light "Slave" grabs the controls and taxis around for another take off. If not for the S-show this has become, I'd gripe about this placement, since this song arguably belongs in the first set, especially since there's not much of a jam. Still a spot-on take of this song though.
Silent in the Morning Too bad the rules of the night preclude the proper lead in by "The Horse," but like "Slave," this is a great rendition with a solid feel, despite the odd placement.
Sanity I have to admit that I didn't see this coming, though if Phish were to play a show in my honor, I'd love this song to be a part of it. One of the band's sillier tunes, they play it up by drawing out the S sounds ("you can tressspasss anywhere") to drive home the night's theme, just in case you hadn't noticed that you'd just listened to 23 songs whose titles all start with the letter S. For the particularly observant, there's a subtle Led Zeppelin reference by Page in the mini vocal jam they ease into.
Sweet Adeline An S-song of loss and appreciation. How nice.
Sabotage A fun, though admittedly somewhat messy end to a really great show. I'd argue this is a better version than the last time they played it - which was 11/21/98.
Fans looking for long explorations might not find them in this night's set, but if you're looking for a fitting sendoff for a fellow traveler, this is essential.