In a show every bit as big as its spectacle, Phish fused what we love about them with everything we’ve yet to discover. In an earnest welcome to the next chapter of their careers, Phish played a show- and more specifically- a second set that inter-wound the new with the old, creating a stunning welcome to the future.
The inaugural second set of Summer ’09 was underlined in vibrant fashion by combination of the dirtiest “Tweezer” we’ve heard in quite some time with a slowly moving transition into the debut of one of Phish’s brightest new songs- “Light”- just like it was scripted. Echoes of past glories were felt and furthered upon within the monstrous “Tweezer” in which the band moved through the nastiest grooves we’ve heard in years into a impeccable peak before twisting into a spirited debut of the much-anticipated, “Light.” With a section of improv that could easily develop into a 3.0 “Piper-esque” jam, Phish previewed a song that will certainly jump into this summer’s rotation and highlight many a setlist.
Following this symbolic combination, the band dropped into a perfectly-placed “Bathtub Gin” that brought the entire crowd back onto the same page after the other-worldly excursion that directly preceded it. Following precise playing within the feel good jam and “Bowie’s” darker counterpart, Phish took Fenway’s grandest stage of tour to debut their new multi-part epic, “Time Turns Elastic.” With an additional jam tacked onto the song’s final peak, Phish brought the crowd deep within and without their dynamic piece, showcasing Trey’s composition in the most focal point of the show. A song that many fans thought might not translate well onto the Phish stage came off magnificently, one movement seamlessly moved into the next, climaxing in a far more dramatic fashion that imagined. With the band’s announcement of its newest arrival in the middle of the second set of the tour’s first show, we’ve definitely got many more versions to look forward to this summer – and it will be interesting to track the song’s potentially changing form.
With a performance of “Time Turns Elastic” that could have ended the night in a fitting way, Phish wasn’t even close to done. Dropping a bombastic “Free” deep into the second set, Phish showed they still had some love left to give. And if continuously playing wasn’t enough, the band broke out “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” for the first time since August of ’93, enthralling the stadium crowd before finishing with a dynamic “YEM” that gradually built from laid back grooves into a jam with more teeth to it, ending in a centerfield bass-solo by Gordeaux before the band’s first baseball-stadium-sized vocal jam.
Finishing the night with a three-song encore that punctuated an evening that already has made Hampton seem like a distant memory, Phish was good to the last drop. With “Tweezer Reprise” having seen many fitting settings, none was quite like this. Gazing up past the Green Monster, into the night’s glowing half-moon, everything in the universe was right again. Phish was moving forward again, creating new adventures with songs, old and new; adventures that reached out and gripped us in a way that we remembered; the way it’s supposed to be. Hampton needed to happen to get here, but there seems to be no time like the present in Phish’s universe. Night one is in the books- here we go- “Destiny Unbound!”
I: Star Spangled Banner*, Sample in a Jar, Moma Dance, Chalk Dust Torture, Ocelot**, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Poor Heart, Limb by Limb, Wading in a Velvet Sea, Down with Disease, Destiny Unbound, Character Zero
II: Tweezer > Light**, Bathtub Gin, David Bowie, Time Turns Elastic**, Free, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, You Enjoy Myself
E: Cavern, Good Times Bad Times, Tweezer Reprise
*from picthing mound ** debut
“Tweezer” 5.31.09 partial