One of the most endearing moments of June’s tour was Bruce Springsteen’s guest spot at Bonnaroo. Rumors swirled about Phish and The Boss taking the stage together, and with Trey’s known admiration of Bruce, a collaboration seemed likely. Throughout our Phish lives, we have heard stories of Trey, growing up in New Jersey, looking up to the state’s most famous son as the epitome a rock star. Now, as headliners of the same festival, the stage was set.
A legend of Americana’s singer-songwriter tradition, Springsteen’s music spoke to a generation of youth, longing for freedom and adventure in the 1970s, a decade focused on reestablishing cultural stability in America. His songs carried the voice of “everyman,” making his music emotionally universal. Trey, as well as many of us, grew up listening to Bruce’s raspy folktales over his poignant hooks and melodies. From “Greetings From Asbury Park” and “The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle” to “Born to Run,” and “Born In the USA,” the Boss brought many of us through our youth, dreaming about “get[ing] out while we [we]re young.” And when we finally did get out, look what we found. Maybe this wasn’t the scenario for everyone, but there is no doubt that Bruce Springsteen is an American rock and roll icon.
After Phish had just completed a intense run through “Tweezer > Horse > Silent, Antelope,” it seemed that Bonnaroo’s first set was over, but as Trey stepped to the mic he began to tell us a story. Reminiscing on the first concert he ever attended, Bruce Springsteen in Princeton, NJ, he explained how blown away he was by the intensity and energy in the room that night. In a past interview, Trey said he had never witnessed someone command the attention of an entire room like Jerry Garcia or Bruce Springsteen. Now, sharing the stage with the legend, he welcomed his “boyhood hero” to the stage. His shit-eating grin told the rest of his story for him. (Side note: Trey previously told us, on 12.15.95, that his first concert was Jethro Tull at The Spectrum. Hmm.)
Trey’s Introduction ———————
Just as we have heroes, so does Trey- and watching his dream come true was awesome. The band started with “Mustang Sally,” a straight forward rocker in order to get acclimated to each other’s chops and to loosen up without any technical playing. Having a grand time on stage, Trey and Bruce traded licks over a steady groove. But when the standard ended, Bruce looked over at Trey and Phish, saying- “Alright, we’re gonna try this one,” as they started “Bobby Jean”- a dark-horse track from “Born in the USA.” Interestingly enough, this song was considered a musical breakthrough for Springsteen upon its recording, with a more accented rhythm and danceable groove- a perfect selection. As the band moved through the anecdotal song, it was very sublime to hear Trey’s guitar back Bruce’s composition in some stylistic Jersey-fusion.
“Mustang Sally“ ——————————-
“Bobby Jean“ —————————-
But the highest moment of their three-song performance was unquestionably “Glory Days.” Taking a song that everyone in the massive crowd connected to in one way or another, Phish and Bruce tore through the ’80s hit more than proficiently. And one of the best moments of the weekend came when Bruce turned the reigns over to Trey during the solo. Taking liberty, Trey threw down a monster solo with many of his signature licks; like a kid in a candy store, he shredded the classic. There was also something overtly powerful as the two aging guitarists wailed together on the nostalgic “Glory Days;” certainly a moment. Climaxing the song, the band and Bruce moved into the final verse and on into setbreak.
Much of the crowd buzzed during the break about the superstar-sit in, and many were overheard saying, “Best Glory Days EVER!” As Phish prepared to come out for Bonnaroo’s final set, Trey had already lived a dream. Sober, happy, and playing on the nation’s biggest summer stage with one of his heroes, his look said it all. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, maybe more.
“Glory Days“ —————————–
Jam of the Day:
“David Bowie” 6.24.95 II Philadelphia, Pa.
One of my all time favorite “Bowies.” It’s amazing how intense, yet controlled, the jam is the entire time.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
7.21.1996 The Forum, Nuremberg, GR ^TORRENT
7.21.1996 The Forum, Nuremberg, GR < MEGAUPLOAD
This is one of the most well-loved two-setters on Europe’s Summer ’96 tour. Sprinkled between their opening sets for Santana, Phish played a series of headlining gigs, and none more on point than this night in Germany. With a great setlist and tight playing, Nuremberg was a keeper.
I: Golgi Apparatus, Guelah Papyrus, Rift, Tweezer, If I Could, My Mind’s Got a Mind of It’s Own, Split Open and Melt, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Taste, Train Song*, Fee > Timber (Jerry), Johnny B. Goode
II: Llama, Theme From the Bottom, Reba, Life on Mars, Free, Run Like an Antelope, Simple, Prince Caspian, Suzy Greenberg
E: Harry Hood
*First time played.