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December 07, 2005


Henry Holland

Phish - Live at Madison Square Garden, New Year's Eve 1995 (JEMP/Rhino, to be issued 12/20)

Um, you're now my favorite music blogger. :-) I have a bootleg DVD of this show and it's an odd one. The first set is flat out amazing--the PYITE>Sloth>Reba>Coil combo is pretty tough to beat--but I think the second and third sets don't work as well. For one thing, I think the Strange Design in set 2 and especially Sea and Sand in set 3 just kill the momentum dead. I know it's not unusual for a Weekapaug Groove to be separated by many songs from Mike's Song but the way that Mike's just kind of peters out without the release that doing, say, a Simple>H20>Weekapaug sequence would leaves me thinking "What was Trey doing when he wrote out the setlist?". Still, that first set, woah!

"virtually everyone seems to have critiqued not the piece that was actually staged, but the one that he or she wanted to have seen and heard"

The reviews of Picker's opera have been fascinating for exactly that reason, especially in light of the reviews of the utterly mediocre IMO Doctor Atomic in San Francisco. Dr. A got mostly good notices and I very much got the impression, especially from Alex Ross, who I think is a fantastic writer about music, that they were going to love the damn thing because it was A Major American Opera About A Big Theme no matter what, the actual merits of the piece itself be damned.

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