A Golden Age

Cincy (J.Tortorice)

Cincy (J.Tortorice)

Phish stepped into the second half of fall tour with a strong two-set outing at The Knick that was highlighted by a sparkling new cover and an classic jam. Bouncing back from a slight dip of Philly’s second night, the band brought their polished playing and a bit of exploration in what came together as a great show with a particularly exciting second set.

As this era of Phish evolves, it seems that first sets will be reserved exclusively for songs, and the second half is where any real improvisation will happen. And as the band’s playing is sharp right now, setlists and song choice become far more essential to the first half dynamic. Usually kicking down one or two structured jams within the first half, last night they played four. Featuring an early “Maze” and the late run of “Timber,” “Limb, and “Light,” all of these tightly wound pieces of contained jamming were highlighted by ripping guitar work by Trey. The most engaging piece sprouted once the set seemed over as the band launched from “Cavern” into the first-ever stand-alone “Light.” Building an ambient soundscape out of the guitar-led section, Fishman began to hit a beat behind the psychedelic madness that suggested something far deeper. But before we knew it, the band took their instruments off in bizarre ending to the set.

Cincy (J.Tortorice)

Cincy (J.Tortorice)

Sprinkling the initial frame with the first appearances of multiple songs this tour, including “Driver,” “Gumbo,” and “Two Versions of Me,” this added up to more than the average first set, but when the band opened second set with the foreboding suite of “My Friend. My Friend” they announced their presence of authority in a more serious fashion. Almost always precluding a large jam vehicle when opening a set, this time no one could have predicted what lied around the corner. Breaking out a new triumphant epic fusing uplifting playing and a driving groove in hybrid Phish jam that nobody had ever heard of before, the song and jam remained a mystery for the entire set. Only later was I informed that it wasn’t a Phish original, but a cover of the indie-electro act, TV On the Radio – noone I had ever heard of before. When I downloaded the original “Golden Age,” I discovered that Phish had created a huge new jam from the least likely of places, an pop-tronica track. Completely Phishifying the original, the band absolutely annihilated a brand new shining piece of improv that immediately stood out as one of the best jams of tour. I’ve got to imagine Trey picked this one out of the crowd and brought it to the band to practice and practice and practice, because when they unveiled the piece, it translated brilliantly. Both lyrically appropriate and acrobatic, the band chose a winner to add to their repertoire, and its debut absolutely blew up.

Cincy (J.Tortorice)

Cincy (J.Tortorice)

Following the explosive dance-cover, the band dropped into their the old-school rare and rare cover, “On Your Way Down.” The psychedelic blues-rock exercise provided an ideal interlude before launching into a centerpiece “Fluffhead” that carried plenty of steam and didn’t slow the set down at all. A bombastic guitar peak set the table for the second central jam from the set – “Piper.” Taking the piece to both inspiring and experimental places, the band crushed the jam in its most exciting version of tour. Bending notes around each other in a high-speed musical chase, Gordon used his envelope filter to drop a pattern of bass bombs that masterfully integrated with the band’s sonic fabric. Slowing into a spacier segment, the band morphed into a soft groove that slowly developed into the debut of Fishman’s Undermind’s composition “Tomorrow’s Song.” One of those pieces that I figured the band had already forgotten about emerged from the depths of the most exploratory jam of the evening. A pillowcase for the ears, the piece provided a creative and groovy musical landing point, as well as a breath of fresh air into the set.

The non-stop second half continued with “Prince Caspian” and peaked with a gorgeous rendition of “Harry Hood.” A classic take one of band’s oldest pieces, the impeccable jam soared with a certain regal quality that has characterized almost all “Hoods” from this year. Trey and Page painted the top, while Fish and Mike held down the bottom, symbiotically. This smashing incarnation climaxed the set, led forward by Trey’s sublime leads, before the band slid into the evening’s denouement of “Suzy,” “Coil.” Stringing together some classic songs to end an exciting frame of Phish, capped by the silly “Ive Been Around.” An all-around engaging show – and particularly hot second set – set the table for a large Saturday night at Albany’s Phishy downtown arena. See you there!

I: AC/DC Bag, Maze, Driver, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, Gumbo, Bouncing Around the Room, It’s Ice, Two Versions of Me, Timber, Limb By Limb, Cavern, Light

II: My Friend, My Friend > Golden Age*, On Your Way Down, Fluffhead, Piper > Tomorrow’s Song*, Prince Caspian, Harry Hood, Suzy Greenberg, The Squirming Coil, I’ve Been Around

E: Fire

* debut

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788 Responses to “A Golden Age”

  1. BrandonKayda Says:

    No lie c0wfunk 25min Seven Below->25min Ghost

  2. gus Says:

    I am so angry. I was just talking about how amazing a YEM encore at Portland tomorrow night would have been. shucks.

  3. YborCity Says:

    Holy Show, Batman!

  4. SillyWilly Says:


  5. Weekapaug Says:

    yem Japan encore too if i remember right

  6. chefbradford Says:

    It looks like, up until the end of 2000, YEM was played in the encore slot 11 known times

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    best show of fall??

  8. gus Says:

    I think so.

  9. Henry Says:

    I haven’t been listening, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it became my favorite show of ’09.

  10. chefbradford Says:

    I’ve seen the setlist for the first set, but how was it? And I’d love to hear opinions of the cover of “Golden Age” last night; haven’t heard it, but love the original

  11. Henry Says:


    It’s very good. I love the original too, and Phish did not disappoint. Surprise…..

  12. BrandonKayda Says:

    How was the jam….this is unbelieeeeeeeeeeeevable.

    Gus – You will get hosed, my friend. They are really, really hitting their stride; and tomorrow night is the perfect place to blow up.

    Portland will absolutely slay, I guarantee

  13. chefbradford Says:

    Excellent. I respect (and quite frequently agree with) Mr. Miner’s opinion, but I wanted to hear from someone familiar with the original. Fantastic. Will definitely be making a trip to LivePhish tomorrow…or maybe tonight

  14. Leo Weaver Says:

    So the setlist looks pretty damn promising…would’ve been happy with that (on paper) setlist for one of my MSG shows. I checked a few updates on the phish.com site, looks like there may’ve been a really big Seven Below>Ghost, maybe 45-50 minutes worth…that correct? Can’t wait to hear this one tomorrow!

  15. gus Says:

    well let’s see, what did they play three or four shows ago that I’m likely to get tomorrow? I mean, I have no doubt that tomorrow will be off the hook, but will I get a stash? I’m thinking so. maybe a Tela bustout as welll.

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    wow. what a night. good night everyone. thanks for hanging out.

  17. chefbradford Says:

    Good luck with that ‘Tela’, Gus. I won’t be at the show, but I’d love to see another McGrupp

  18. Snigglebeach Says:

    Went last night, stream tonight.

    What a 2-night run. the jamming-improv is coming so naturally now. they are so back. pumped for tomorrow night. hope i can download it before i have to go in morning.

  19. Boris Says:

    both seven below and ghost were 25 minutes each!?!??!!??!

  20. bl68300 Says:

    the seven was loooong like damn near 30 min long.

  21. BrandonKayda Says:

    They are capable of huge jamming folks…all this time I thought the Gorge would be the only “jammy” show.

    Portland will get a 20min Bathtub Gin (nah, dont start getting any expectations)

    I remember not too long ago the thought of a 25min jam was a complete fantasy in 3.0.

    2009 will be a year to remember

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    yem encore greensboro 03? With the proud mary vocal jam..

  23. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yes, Boris.

    25min Seven Below -> about a 23min Ghost

    with a YEM encore ta’boot!

  24. BrandonKayda Says:

    apparently there were some “Poster is dead…” teases in the vocal jam

  25. BrandonKayda Says:

    I meant Harpua, lol

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