Reflecting on Fenway

5.31.09 (Boston Herald)

5.31.09 (Boston Herald)

Rarely do we get a day off to reflect after only one night of tour.   Usually we get up and find our way to the next show with barely enough time to digest what had happened the night before.  Yet, somehow, at the beginning of this summer’s new chapter of Phish, it seems completely appropriate.  After a show of such magnitude in a setting unparalleled in grandeur, a day to thoroughly listen to the show a handful of times has given us a renewed sense that it is on for this summer!  With new material peppering- and highlighting- the setlist, sharp playing of classic vehicles, and a true bustout in “Curtis Loew,” Fenway foreshadowed what will certainly be a monumental summer.

It is almost hard to fathom that we are actually on Phish tour again, and the frequency that amazing music will be coming at us on a nightly basis; paradise had been re-found. It is a truly awing feeling to be on the way to so many shows right now after such a peak experience on night one- and that’s what it’s all about.  Hampton was like a destination wedding, and now we are fully emerged in the thick of things.

Rainbow Over Chalk Dust (A.Bogart)

Rainbow Over "Chalk Dust" (A.Bogart)

In a review that focused on the sublime second set last night, I didn’t mention Phish’s third debut of promise last night- “Ocelot.”  Named after a wild cat (and sometimes exotic pet) indigenous to Central and South America, this new song has a playful lyrical path, moving wistfully through the beginning of the composition.  The band gave us a small preview of the improv that will come from this song, placing it in the middle of the first set and not expounding on it for too long.  Yet the succinct improv that did come from the song was quite promising – featuring slower, emotional playing from Trey and a laid-back groove that could really move to some interesting places.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the first big “Ocelot” open the second set of one of the upcoming Jones Beach shows- that’s often how it works.

5.31.09 (P.Harrington)

5.31.09 (P.Harrington)

The first set of Fenway, while solid all the way through, really took off in earnest with a smoking “Down With Disease”- the first high-energy jam of the night.  The band and crowd seemed to reach their point of getting warmed-up simultaneously, as the jam represented the true kick off to summer tour.  And to drop into “Destiny Unbound” directly after was masterful.  With their course uncharted, one can’t help but wonder if this will be a new addition to the playbook this summer.  With an infectious funk jam, one can only hope.

Something tells me we will continue to hear new material throughout the Jones Beach run, with more debuts added each night.  The prospect of going into shows and hearing unheard songs makes the entire Phish experience all the more unknown and exciting, especially with the band’s impressive new songwriting.  And then every time they drop a classic, it’s like being reintroduced to one of your best friends you haven’t seen in years.  This tour is a once in a lifetime moment in the Phish world, and its prospects are simply endless.  So, if you were questioning making that extra drive to that not-so-convenient show; do it- the time is near, the mission’s clear- you won’t regret it.



5.31.09 Fenway (photo: Parker Harrington)


5.31.09 “Down With Disease” Jam (video by Alexander K.)

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510 Responses to “Reflecting on Fenway”

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  1. Al Says:

    I’m so happy they are on tour again. But compared to the Hampton shows, Fenway musically takes only 4th place. (Except for the new songs, brake outs) I was not at all impressed by the first set. The second set has a great Tweezer, Light, Time turns, YEM. But all other songs > Bathtub and Bowie were much better in Hampton. I hate to be whining, but this was simply a typical first show of a summer tour which leaves a lot of things to be developed. But the good thing is: they’ll have enough shows on the schedule to do that.

  2. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i hope phish is planning two things right now: longer jams and a performance with david byrne at bonnaroo

  3. ColonelJoy Says:

    Al, I disagree. To me, from headphones, the band sounded better at Fenway, more confident. Regardless, it is clear they are rounding into form….crazy type IIs will ensue shortly….probably on damn Strong Island!!

    Yes, Fool, a Crosseyed with Byrne would be sick. I imagine, at least during the late night set, that there will be one, if not several sit-ins. Let’s face it, Phish are not just our legends, they get mad props from all musicians in the industry….would love to see an Al Green.

  4. ColonelJoy Says:

    By The Way Gang, I’m over my Ocelot/Dead rant:)

  5. Mitch Says:

    can someone post a link to treys green languedoc?

  6. Baxter Says:

    I thought the Fenway show was fantastic. From my field seat, the sound was great, and the music was the best I have heard in years. The band’s energy and skills were impressive, and it is great to see the boys are back in town. I think the last time I saw Curtis Lowe was at the Stone Church in 88!

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    never really got into the “show vs show” mentality of better vs. worse – it’s such a personal experience, and even the “objective” parts of the music are tough to get everyone to agree on – >> I will say Hampton seemed like an intro, a reunion, and a review, whereas (on recording) fenway seems more like a Bold step into the future.. and as a first step, it’s a pretty good one I’d say.

  8. El Duderino Says:

    ‘Morning Folks.

    Mitch, I don’t think there is an actual Green Langueduc. Every pic I’ve seen is the traditional not the G4 Lang that we’ve heard Trey was gonna use for this upcoming tour.

  9. PB Says:

    Fenway did sound like a typical tour opener. A band and sound crew finding their way through a first set and things getting better in the second. Having said that a couple things stood out, a great DWD and I am not a huge DWD fan, but this one I can listen to over and over. And, a really solid slowed down and expanded Gin. Song choice and placement was a bit odd. For example, a 4 minute WIVS in the middle of the 1st set? I like this song a lot, but, I listen for Trey’s soaring solo and that is absent due to its placement in the middle of the 1st set. Anyway, I am looking forward to JB, Great Woods and Camden. I think G Woods is going to be where we see this band play their best show of 2009..up til now.

  10. Mitch Says:

    El Dude,
    he used it only on TTE

  11. bhizzle Says:

    I just started listening to Phenway and just finished Ocelot as I pulled into work. I must say that song is damn catchy. I really dig the way the lyrics play out. (Col. I think there is an occasional bass line in there that makes you think of Tenn. Jed, not to get that started again…) And every song from the Star Spangle Banner to Ocelot I have enjoyed.

    The last couple days I’ve heard people talking like “why didn’t they jam that song out more?” and things said about curfew. The two sets downloaded off of this here glorious site (thanks minor and crewe!) time in at 1:38:03 and 1:50:59. That’s almost 3.5 hours! Set 1 has 13 songs. I wonder if that kind of setlist will prevail throughout the tour? I wonder if they are still creating setlists like Hampton?

    Anyway, must continue to listen. I still haven’t heard TTE.

  12. SJC Says:

    On the new green Languedoc – it was used only on TTE, I’m almost positive it was a G2 based on the traditional f-holes (the G4 has only that one cutout). Wish I had pics to share, but I’m positive I saw a new axe around Trey’s neck…

  13. Henrietta Says:

    Green Doc………..

  14. Mitch Says:

    thats another one… ive seen it before but couldnt tell from how far back if it was new. apparently its his same one hes had since 04 just barely plays it.

  15. RobAins Says:

    I’ve been wondering the same thing. Are they writing the setlists again? Anyone know?

  16. Chalkdustin Says:

    “So, if you were questioning making that extra drive to that not-so-convenient show; do it- the time is near, the mission’s clear- you won’t regret it.”

    I’m this much closer to saying screw it, I’m going to Roo.

    After listening to Sunday’s show, I think we have a very promising tour ahead of us. Musically and emotionally, Hampton and Fenway are two very distinct shows. Those March shows will always hold a special place in my heart, but this summer already seems to be heading in the direction of an epic tour. Counting the days…

  17. HarryHood Says:

    After having a day to digest the show and get my feet back on the ground, I had to share my personal experience with the Fenway show……

    I agree that it had the feel of a “warm-up” show for the upcoming tour. On that note, I have to say that I don’t mean in any way that it was a bad show…….. It was a great show. I thought the guys were playing excellent and downright funky at times. I just think that the 10:30pm curfew put a damper on what could have been some really nasty jams. It seemed like they intentionally cut short a few possible lengthy jams in order to keep with a LONG setlist. They sounded really tight on most everything and after listening to the show, certain songs sounded like they were all at the top of their game. Ocelot was a welcoming new song, and will surely lead to some extended funk……. All and all, I was impressed and really looking forward to Mansfield!

    On a side note: I was fortunate enough to have my ticket upgraded after getting seated in a “obtructed view” seat to begin with…… Nothing like going from a field box to section A6!!!!!! 😉

  18. ColonelJoy Says:

    All 4 shows have stretched over 3 hours now….that is probably a modern Phish record (anything beyond the bar era)….4 consecutive 2 set shows going over 3 hours….ZZYZX?

    I’m not sure size matters, when it comes to show length. Hampton first sets were definately too long. I solid, ripped up 2.5 to 2.75 hour gig is fine, and 1 hour longer than the big commercial tours put on.

    Fenway’s 3.3 hours seemed to have fewer down moments than the Hampton shows. Although I do agree the WITVS in Set I was oddly placed.

  19. HarryHood Says:

    Oh yea, and on the new green Languedoc: Only used on TTE, but man what a beautiful instrument. I prefer the sound of the original, but the new one really is awsome to see.

  20. BTB Says:

    Can we officially call Trey’s Green languedoc “the Green Monster” ???

    Just a thought, but fitting!!!!

    Does anyone really think this tour is “sold out”?? I think extras will be had b/c everyone (including ludicrous tix companies) grabbed as many tickets as possible. I’m thinking only RRox and Asheville, The Fox will sell out…

    Great Fenway show! Ocelot Ocelot (too damn catchy, have to admit!

  21. Little Buddy Says:

    I can’t believe all the criticism I read on here yesterday! (not that there’s anything wrong with criticism in general, but it seemed unfounded to me) The sound may have been rough in some spots, but it wasn’t where I was in A1 and that certainly isn’t the bands fault. Its a freakin’ baseball stadium! We had almost perfect sound the whole night. Fenway was a perfect tour opener. It exceeded my expectations and it blew the doors of the Hampton shows (not as an experience, but in terms of the more aggressive jamming and tighter playing). The swagger is back! On the other hand, the scene totally sucked. The creativity in the lot is completely gone. The Phamily vibe is completely gone. WTF? We’ve learned nothing. I’ll be skipping the lot for the rest of the shows this summer. Good luck in Red Rocks if all those losers show up…

    Oh yeah, I love TTE! There I said it… Now pile on.

  22. ColonelJoy Says:

    Jesus, go to Roo already…..Fest gets a bad rap for no good reasons, honestly.

  23. ColonelJoy Says:

    Little Buddy, there ain’t too many TTE haters on here, as far as I can tell….you better skip your happy ass to PT for some group sodomy on that one!

  24. Matso Says:

    The second set looks like it was planned… and by a 16 year old! Setting aside the new tunes and the Curtis Loew bust out and the super solid Free, a single set with Tweezer, Gin, Bowie, and YEM?! It really doesn’t matter if, on relistening, the versions aren’t ‘Best of’; the flow and atmosphere of being at a show where a set like that gets played is something that won’t necessarily translate down into the recording. There wasn’t a single tune to kill the buzz.

    I think there are going to be some very special moments coming up over the next few months. With long first sets there might not be any fall 97 “perfect shows” (you’ll always a few tunes that won’t grab you, but they’re good to have to stand apart and just appreciate the summer and being at the show), but there are going to be some astonishing suites, especially in the second sets.

    I’m just upset I won’t get to be there for any of them.

  25. Albert Walker Says:

    I think shorter jams in the first set with more songs is the new norm
    much like the Dead in 77 or Phish in the early 90’s

    I think they sound a little tighter and more confident in Boston

    DWD is some of the tighter jamming yet, Destiny was smooth and Stash was improved from Hampton

    Velvet Sea in the middle of the first set?

    Also anyone now about amps yet, I’ve seen an ampeg in photos and can’t find the Fender, there is also a cabinet with a head I can’t make out

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