Philadelphia is a city known for its passion. It often gets a bad rap when folks find themselves on the wrong end of its intention (think visiting sports fans), but unlike sports, which are fickle and sometimes divisive, music always provides the building blocks for human connection. The bond that live music builds around shared passion and visceral joy is unmatched, and dare I say there is no better city in which to experience that phenomenon than the City of Brotherly Love.

Providing those building blocks at a hair-raising clip, Goose arrived in Philadelphia for the first time ever on Friday and delivered three hours of heat on the first night of a tour-closing back-to-back at The Fillmore.

Clocking in as the ninth show in eleven nights, the brothers of Goose took the stage in Philly with an air of confidence that belied their approachability and humility and proceeded to mount a 20-minute opening “Drive” that would make the Philadelphia Eagles blush. No quarterback controversy here, the dueling guitars of Rick Mitarotonda and Peter Anspach were in lockstep, the two players supporting and urging one another to a quick score. Goose then ran the old Statue of Liberty play, faking out the crowd with a “Flodown” tease before multi-instrumentalist Anspach holstered his guitar in favor of his keyboards for “Earthling or Alien”.

“Indian River” benefited from subtle tempo shifts fueled by drummer Ben Atkind and percussionist Jeffrey Arevalo and irie flourishes via Anspach’s organ before “Time To Flee” unleashed some flowing improvisational voodoo. A raucous “Jive I” reasserted the Hammond organ as the first set MVP before a guitar solo firmly averred, “Oh by the way, remember me? I’m Rich(k).”

A glorious reading of Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” closed the set for its second-ever live Goose appearance following its debut at Goosemas (2/26/22). When the song first dropped on streaming services last November for Secretly Canadian’s 25th Anniversary, Mitarotonda had this to say: ”Nina Simone’s take on Sinnerman has been a point of inspiration for many years. We’ve been wanting to play it for a while, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.” Every ounce of that inspiration was felt last night.

When Goose returned for set two, Anspach carried a box of incense that seemed destined for his  Leslie but took a thoughtful detour to the end of the stage for the fans up front (as if the vibe weren’t high enough already). The second set kicked off with “Pancakes”, a recent addition to the catalog that has become a lock for extensive improvisation. Another tall stack, this one slowed things down for Trevor Weekz to seduce the low end while Peter (on clavinet) and Rich (on guitar) kept the conversation heated.

Deliberate, patient, and sexy as all get out, the low-and-slow theme established early on naturally gave way to “Slow Ready”. The segue into “Moby” was one for the record books, five minutes of Ted Tapes glory that seemed to decree, “World, meet Trevor Bass.”

The tone-perfect “Ghostbusters Rap” that followed felt like a heat-check from a band on a truly remarkable tear. Ben and Jeff each got their turn to shine with brief, spot-lit solos before Peter urged the crowd into a white-light primal scream for the ages. The shenanigans continued with a game of Freeze before Goose dripped through the lines and into the improvisational unknown.

The vibes wafted from “party” to “pensive as Rick’s heart-wrenching vocals the band through a spiritual “Arise” as my wife and I held on tightly and renewed our wedding vows in real time. Just the third-ever playing by Goose after sister band Orebolo debuted the tune in Tarrytown Music Hall on 12/2/21, this newly unearthed gem should surely get a spot on your wishlist.

“We have one more for ya,” quipped Peter as the familiar first notes of a twenty-minute, set-closing “Hot Tea” rang out and brought the set to a close. I’ve said it before—in every review, every time I’ve had the good fortune to hear it live—and I’ll say it again: This is the most fun song in live music right now. The crowd exploded in kind, jumping, swinging, and dancing in a confetti cannon blast of joy.

Peter summarized what we were all feeling when the band returned from the encore break: “We love you guys so so much.”

Twelve more minutes of mastery ensued in the form of “Creatures” before a final gift, one hundred and eighty seconds of proverbial icing on the cake. You know the band is feeling it when they add ad-lib a cover of Otis Day And The Knights‘ “Shama Lama Ding Dong” after the show, and this was an emphatic and wildly celebratory exclamation point to a flawless performance.

Every show is the best show since the last show until the next show. I think I’m done talking about “best” this and “greatest that,” but I will say that this show, this night, the whole experience, was absolutely sublime. Goose winter tour comes to a close on Saturday night with round two at The Fillmore Philadelphia. If you can’t be there in person to share the bliss in person, check out the live stream here.

Check out a gallery of photos from the performance below courtesy of Andrew Hutchins.

Setlist: Goose | The Fillmore | Philadelphia, PA | 3/11/21

Set One (8:43-10:02): Drive , Earthling or Alien, Indian River, Time to Flee, Jive I, Sinnerman (Nina Simone)

Set Two (10:33-11:59): Pancakes, Slow Ready -> Moby, Ghostbusters Rap, Arise, Hot Tea

Encore (12:03-12:18): Creatures -> Shama Lama Ding Dong (Otis Day And The Knights)