Summer’s opening leg included something for all parts of Phish’s fan base. Combining just enough open jamming with revitalized structured improv, the band’s exploratory adventure returned in spurts throughout the month. Precise playing and non-stop energy produced a new-found sense of urgency, lighting a fire under Phish from the tour’s opening “Disease.” Then there were the covers; ten new songs from various artists and genres that added spice to many setlists. And finally, the last element comprising a catch-all Phish tour were the many bust-outs that dotted the run. Not only did the band kick down once-in-a-while songs like “Forbin’s > Mockingbird,” “Roses Are Free,” “Sanity,” “Harpua” and “McGrupp,” they added more elusive songs such as “Destiny Unbound,” “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” and “Saw It Again.” But all these rarities took a back seat to a showcase of songs Phish hadn’t played in well over a hundred shows, one dating all the way back to the ’80s. The following six selections represent the headline-grabbing bust-outs of the early summer.
1. “Fuck Your Face” 7.2 II – last believed to be played on 4.29.1987 (1,413 shows)
In the bust-out to end all bust-outs, Phish finally played Mike’s iconic piece of Zappa-esque humor, best known from its place on The White Tape. The Mockingbird Foundation believes the band played the song on April, 29, 1987, but that cannot be confirmed. Unless a rather eclectic old-school head found their way to Charlotte, this was the first time anyone had ever witnessed the song. Coming out of a ten-ton “Carini,” Trey began the guitar lick, sounding like something unique. As the band transitioned and Mike began singing, an incredibly small portion of the crowd actually knew they were witnessing history. “Carini > Fuck Your Face” sounds like something a student might scribble in the margin during lecture in a Phishy daydream. But lo and behold, it unfolded in a moment that will be remembered forever.
2. “Alumni Blues > A Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni” 6.25 I
“Alumni” last played 7.24.99 (222 shows), “Letter” last played 7.15.94 (587 shows)
Phish came onstage the second night of Camden and didn’t hesitate, busting into the old-school classic “Alumni Blues.” The funky ditty became all-the-more interesting as the band bridged the halves of the song with Trey’s hard-rock homage, “Letter to Jimmy Page,” for the first time since 7.15.94. With most versions played in the ’80s and early ’90s, this resurfaced another piece of the band’;s legacy. Phish dug deep into their past this tour, and this segment – officially released by the band on video – exhumed another relic from the history books.
3. “Have Mercy” 7.1 II – last played 12.10.99 II (189 shows)
One of Phish’s most precious covers, the band usually gives The Mighty Diamonds’ song special treatment by placing it after an exploratory mind-fuck; there are few more gentle landing pads in Phish’s repertoire. But when the band dropped the song after a sloppy “Fluffhead” in Raleigh, it hardly made sense. Always nice to hear, regardless of placement, Phish could have bumped this one up a few slots and made a gorgeous segment out of “Light > Have Mercy.” Unheard from since December ’99 in Philadelphia, this served as an out-of-context re-introduction to the song.
4. “Light Up or Leave Me Alone” 7.1 II – last played 12.30.99 I (181 shows)
Only the second time this song has been played since the ’80s, we last saw this Traffic cover during the opening, afternoon set of Big Cypress. When Phish let loose on the song late in Raleigh’s second set, it brought one of two improvisational highlights of the evening. Spearheaded by Trey’s shredding leads, the band destroyed an explosive groove-rock jaunt that contrasted to the laid-back version everyone heard in The Everglades. This bust-out carried more musical weight than any other of tour.
5. “Walfredo” 6.27 I – last played 9.30.00 (131 Shows)
Unseen since Vegas 2000, Phish opened the second night of Merriweather with “Walfredo,” their instrument-switching gimmick that includes the venue’s name in its lyrics. A clever move, this rather benign opener foreshadowed the second set theatrics that were to come. Though fun to see the guys in different spots to start the show, the set got started in earnest with another rarity that followed, Bob Marley’s “Mellow Mood.” Nonetheless, if you were there, scratch “Walfredo” off your list.
6. “Time Loves A Hero” 7.1 I – last played 12.31.02 (127 shows)
Phish played this Little Feat cover for the third time since the ’80s, and 2010’s incarnation was the of three to stand alone. Coming out of a funky “Wolfman’s” at Star Lake ’98, and creatively morphing from “Runaway Jim” in one of the few highlights of Phish’s first comeback show in ’02, this is another song that deserves better improvisational context. And sandwiched between “Kill Devil Falls” and “Alaska” in the first set isn’t exactly the context I’m talking about. Nonetheless, the groovy song was played well, adding to the set.
Jam of the Day:
“Ghost” 6.11 II
Hands down, the “Ghost” of 2010 thus far, and one of the most engaging jams of tour.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
6.11.2010 Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL < Torrent
6.11.2010 Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL < Megaupload
In one of the most exciting tour-openers ever, Phish came out firing on a sweltering Chicago evening, playing two sets worth of stellar music. Improvisational highlights abound in both sets, with the second-half sequence “Light > Maze, Ghost > Limb” providing the show’s centerpiece. After tour ended, Chicago’s opening night still sits among the band’s top-shelf offerings of the month.
I: Down with Disease, Wolfman’s Brother, Possum, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Reba, Jesus Just Left Chicago, The Divided Sky, Golgi Apparatus, David Bowie
II: Light > Maze, Ghost > Limb By Limb, Prince Caspian > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Run Like an Antelope, Show of Life*
E: Cavern, Julius
Source: (FOB) Schoeps mk4v > KC5 > M222> NT222 > Oade m148 > SD 722 (@24bit/96kHz)Tags: 2010, Songs, Summer '09