Phish Reunion Tour Does Not Disappoint – Concert Review

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)—June 25, 2009. The Vermont quartet Phish (Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Page McConnell, and Jon Fishman) finished the initial leg of their first tour in almost 5 years this past weekend with three sold-out shows in Noblesville, Indiana (6/19) and Alpine Valley Music Center in East Troy, Wisconsin (6/20, 6/21). I must say, as a veteran of 64 Phish shows, the band sounded focused and loose.

The band took their first touring break from October 2000 through December 2002. When they returned in 2002, their drive appeared to be gone and it was apparent to anyone who is a ‘phan’ that they just were not into it. As a result, less than two years later, on August 15, 2004, they played their last show as Phish.

Each of the band members tried solo efforts, none of which impressed me. Most disappointing from my perspective was Trey Anastasia’s efforts. It really is amazing how on the one hand, Trey is a musical genius leading Phish through fantastic musical journeys. But on the other hand, his solo efforts consisted of material that was uninspired.

I was fortunate to see the beginning of the 2009 reunion tour when they played in Hampton, Virginia in early March. Phish is known for playing different set lists every night with long, extensive jams. These Virginia shows however, were more song oriented and almost safe. The band was not so eager to jam. While jams were done they were just not as prominent as in the past. Through the years Phish has taken on various musical styles such as bluegrass during the early 90s, funkier during the late 90s and a well-oiled machine sound as the century ended. I guess the style of 2009’s Phish 3.0 can be explained as being song oriented with more refined jams. Phish is simply ever-evolving and that’s why I continue to see them. While many have compared Phish to the Grateful Dead, the Dead are more of a ‘fine wine,’ with Phish being ‘jolt cola.’ But this tour has shown that Phish are starting to be aged to perfection.

During their nearly 3 hour performances at each concert this weekend they gave the crowd what they have grown to expect. But to be honest at times they felt as if they were practicing in an effort to reach the performance levels achieved before taking their first touring hiatus. I was pleased to see the band having so much fun during these concerts. They did not hold back at all but just played and enjoyed what the four of them have worked so hard to create.

Their new album, Joy, is due out later this summer and contains 8 of the 10 songs that were performed a few times during this tour and received rather well. The newer material is a slight departure from the silly lyrics of the songs they wrote in college – I always thought those lyrics were a joke on all of us ‘phans’ anyway. The new material gives you the impression that they want to make sense lyrically. I’ll be the first to admit, Lennon and McCartney they are not, but they never have been nor do I think they want to be. Phish to me has always been about a feeling of freedom through music. When they are in the groove, so to speak, there is really no one better than these four guys. They really know how to manipulate a crowd with their music. They always have us in the palm of their hands and everyone is having the absolute best time. After listening to all their 2009 concerts on-line since they opened in Virginia, including the six I have attended, I can report, Phish is back and sound phenomenal! Sure there is some rust here and there, but overall they are as good as I’ve ever seen them. Thank you Trey, Mike, Page, and Jon for reuniting and bringing your magic back to us.

Set List 6/19

Backwards Down the Number Line

AC/DC Bag

Limb by Limb

Moma Dance

Water in the Sky

Split Open and Melt

Lawn Boy

The Wedge

Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

The Connection

Ocelog

Fluffhead

A Song I Heard

The Ocean Sing

Drowned (The Who)

Twist Around

Let Me Lie

Tweezer

2001

Suzy Greenberg

Possum

Encore

Sleeping Monkey

Tweezer Reprise

 

Set List 6/20

Punch You in the Eye

Runaway Jim

Stash

Ya Mar

Bathtub Gin

Kill Devil Falls

Train Song

Farmhouse

Sparkle

Run Like an Antelope

Waves

Sample In A Jar

Maze

Makisupa Policeman

Ghost

The Lizards

You Enjoy Myself

NICU

Prince Caspian

Waste

Fire (Jimi Hendrix)

Encore

Character Zero

 

Set List 6/21

Brother

Wolfman’s Brother

Funky Bitch (Son Seals)

The Divided Sky

Joy

Back On the Train

Taste

Poor Heart

The Horse

Silent in the Morning

The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday

Avenu Malkanu

The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday

Time Turns Elastic

Cross-eyed and Painless (Talking Heads)

Down With Disease

Bug

Piper

Wading In the Velvet Sea

Boogie On Reggae Woman (Stevie Wonder)

Slave To the Traffic Light

 

Encore

Frankenstein (Edgar Winter Group) featuring Trey on a 5-neck guitar, Page on Keytar, and Mike on the Inferno bass