Back In The Garden Again

MSG - 12.2.09 (Photo:Wendy Rogell)

MSG - 12.2.09 (Photo:Wendy Rogell)

With a second set fueled by adrenalized playing, a non-stop setlist, and an exploratory epic, Phish pieced together an explosive first night of their highly-anticipated Madison Square Garden run. Arriving in the Big Apple for the peak of their fall run, the band capitalized on their current momentum, kicking off their three-night run with a song-driven escapade. But in the highlight of the evening, the band let themselves go in a far-reaching exploration of “Light,” crafting one of the best – and most original sounding – pieces of improv of fall tour. Building on this run’s many standout versions of their newest jam vehicle, the band placed the song in the spotlight of the second set, taking the song on its most interstellar journey of its young life.

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

Centering “Light” for the second straight show, the band launched into the show’s unquestionable highlight, riding the exploratory piece into the stratosphere. The band soared through a multi-dimensional segment of improv, further realizing the song’s potential in a type-II odyssey took  vast step beyond Cumberland County’s second-set excursion. Transforming the song’s ever-climbing ladder of soul candy into a more hard-edged experimentation of unique Phishy planes, the band crafted the type of open-ended exploration that keeps me wanting more.

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

Diving into a collective, free-form journey with some of the most engaging whole-band interplay of the fall, the band moved from abstract textures into a palette of original groove; and the spirit of exploration tasted in Albany resurfaced in droves throughout this gorgeous piece. Gordon slid into a section where he continued his tasteful, yet prominent, use of his envelope filter. Continually adding a new, directional feel to the band’s jamming, Gordon continues to push the envelope from the bottom end. As Page joined in with a heavily synthesized effect, the jam came to a final peak before dripping into “Slave,” forming the standout combo of the show. Molding a unique take of the majestic build, Phish used “Slave” as more than a landing point, but as a creative vehicle as well. Again placed as a centerpiece of a second set, the band showcased another strong version of the song in a year that has included many.

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

Just as “Slave” triumphantly crashed to an end, “Tweezer” growled open to christen Phish’s return to their New York home. At this point, I thought I’d be gathering my brains off the arena walls before leaving for the night, but the colossal MSG “Tweezer” that many of us anticipated didn’t exactly precipitate. Instead of a thick molasses groove-fest, Phish played a compact, dirty rager that sounded akin to a full-on mid-nineties version. Locked and connected, the band ripped through a particularly fast version of the song that featured some standout communication between all the members. Firing through an aggressive rendition of their classic springboard, the band has used “Tweezer” as a more contained jam since fall started, and this one followed suit before blending into “Joy.”

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

Playing it straight forward from here on out, the band featured a gorgeous rendition of “Harry Hood,” evoking memories of the many standout versions played in the building throughout Phish’s history. Adding a hefty dose of arena bombast with their popular ’09 combo, “Suzy,” “Antelope,” the band punctuated the first night of their New York stand with a series of fun, composed grooves. Setting up two nights of Madison Square Madness with a blistering second set on Wednesday night, Phish confidently stepped back to the bright lights of Broadway.

Set 1 Notes: Strong versions of “Chalkdust,” and “Wolfman’s” led the band out of the gates with a juxtaposition of styles before they stretched out a mid-set “Ocelot” in a far-more than average blues jam in the middle of the first set. The bust-out highlight of the night – and perhaps the tour – came with the dropping of Zappa’s “Peaches En Regalia,” which the band played impeccably before dropping into a meticulous “Divided Sky.”

I: AC/DC Bag, Chalk Dust Torture, Wolfman’s Brother, NICU, Ocelot, Brian and Robert, Poor Heart, Sample in a Jar, Peaches en Regalia, The Divided Sky, Cavern

II: Golgi Apparatus, Light > Slave to the Traffic Light, Tweezer > Joy, Sparkle, Harry Hood, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Suzy Greenberg, Run Like an Antelope

E: A Day in the Life, Tweezer Reprise

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1,094 Responses to “Back In The Garden Again”

  1. bl68300 Says:

    EPIC SHOW TONIGHT!!!!!! more when i get my face back tomorrow morning!!!!

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    phish is change. isn’t it?

    what phish is now is not what phish will be, right?

    they’re on a hard rock throwdown kick. they drop enough open jams to keep the pump primed and go for it every once in awhile.

    that’s just how it is these days. I think it’s a great stage for them to go through. But that’s all it is, like everything else.

    It’ll be something else before too long, so if you don’t like it, I guess either be patient or check back later…I’m a jams guy myself, I hear you…

    they’re playing the show for the people in the room, too – that second set looks relentless, I can just imagine the Garden energy

  3. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    had a total blast tn. cant wait to relisten to that 2nd set. the dwd was fantastic, piper was killer.

    it was awesome meeting a bunch of you guys at the Blarney Stone tn.

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    phish is getting their swagger back is what I mean

    they’re a rock band first

    i do think the jams will come

  5. Robear Says:

    I went front row, floor, in front of Page for ‘TTE’. I said I was going to give it a another go and it worked. It’s a pretty good time to head toward the stage, when ‘TTE’ starts. Normal exodus ensued. I’m starting to get the song, musically. I need to figure out all the lyrics. I’m ready to see it once every four or five shows, or however it fits into the rotation.

    Good show, comfortable win for the team. ‘Taste’, my personal highlight of the first set, fun ‘Boogie On’, raging ‘Julius’ give small half-time lead. ‘Disease’, groovy ‘Piper’ (please don’t stop), first indoor ‘Fluffhead’ with nice outro jam, and phunky ‘Cities’ seal the victory.

    Much learned on this run, and observation of fall tour. I’d say they’re here to stay, their way.

  6. KWL Says:

    whoa, some serious shit again tonight. Hiiiiiiiigh energy peeps.

  7. KWL Says:

    big shout out to mitch for doing a great job arranging the pre-show festivities. Awesome to meet a bunch more PTers.

  8. KWL Says:

    also gotta give props to GhostPhunk, who called the PYITE opener at about 3pm today……. and then called the Disease 2nd set opener at about 7. There’s an app for that.

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    Much learned on this run, and observation of fall tour. I’d say they’re here to stay, their way.

    love to hear more of your thoughts about that

  10. Bodi Says:

    return of the jedi:
    just got home after a nice Brother Jimmy’s carolina pulled pork sandy stop. hit the spot.
    and yes, the show was highly satisfactory, despite not being satisfactorily high. i actually was in the perfect mood, thanks to JD and herbs to dial into the songs tonight, tight, concise, polished, soulful. No gorge sally or portland gin, etc., but high energy and solid throughout, esp. set 2. no sparkle>joy momentum crushers, just high energy from the first gurgle thru mike’s disease filter to the character closer. very hard to find fault with a show like this. was at the Gorge and felt they really let the doors of perception open up for the first real time this year. this was very much grounded in the nitty gritty rough and tumble rhythm of life at 31st and 8th. it feels like they are relishing the fact that they have mastered the material once again. now they just need the patience, and a dozen more shows, to allow those doors of perception to blow wide open again with more regularity. but we get what we get now, and i’m really grateful to watch these guys still striving for perfection some 25 years since first meeting. one of the tightest bowie’s i’ve seen in a long time, and the fluff was a carnival. the whole second set was carnivalesque. call it their ode to coney island set. what a great venue too, like god’s hand came down and scooped out the concrete to create a perfect music bowl. this is a bucket list music venue right up there with the gorge and RR. Mike was playing with real authority tonight as well, see Free and BORW. There was also a passage in Bowie where Mike laid down the juiciest transition, leading trey back into the light. can’t wait for the MSG Gin tomorrow night. they’re due for an epic one.

  11. KWL Says:

    the segue into piper had to be the most patient segue by trey of the year. He started the chords, the band did not follow him, he chilled out & they jammed on the piper theme for a good 3-5 minutes before actually starting the song. Nice. (the free segue is a different story.)

    Oh, and Butter took care of a few peeps at the meet-up & got the place stankin’. Also nice.

  12. Mitch Says:

    Thanks to everyone that made it tonight and for everyone who donated to the waterwheel foundation. I had a blast meeting all of you. Miner, hope to see you next time.

    Show was fun, Frank and I had some cool seats up close from the side. Security tapped my shoulder and told me to keep it down and then Robear came up behind and scared the shit out of me. The garden is awesome and we’re having a blast but tonight wasnt my fav show of the tour. Dug the disease and piper tho. Fluffhead was cool with the NY reference. Good times by all. Night 3 will be money.

  13. Robear Says:

    Don’t skip Charlotesville, if you’re searching for the sound.

  14. fromthetub Says:

    I really enjoyed meeting a bunch of you tonight at the meet up. Such a great crew. Thanks again Mitch for pulling that together.

    So, in my opinion, the show tonight was on fire. I thought Mike was *killing* it. Dropping bombs, I say. Had SO much fun — even more so than last night.

    I went up front during TTE as well. I also did this in Cincy. Perfect time to move forward when everyone else is leaving!

  15. butter Says:

    great meeting folks, loving cup is coming

  16. Matso Says:

    “Comfortable win”, “Highly satisfactory”, “Show was fun”?? Really, that’s it? That second set looks amazing on paper (and with a DWD just shy of the 20 minute mark, not even underjammed, or least not in the context of this tour). I would have expected a bit more OTT enthusiasm!

  17. ThePigSong Says:

    On my flight to NYC


  18. Mike in Austin Says:

    I retract my “nailed it” on Peaches. Infact, it was sloppy. But glad to hear they played it.

  19. Zander Says:

    On merit of Derek Trucks: impressive, but check out the abilities of Steve Kimmock and tell me he’s not the best guitarist of the “Grateful Dead/Allman Leftovers” club (Jimmy Herring, Derek Trucks, and that god-awful, soul-less jerkoff artist Warren Haynes).

    To me, Steve Kimock is the only guitarist from the “jam band scene” that I would even dare to compare to Trey in terms of craftmanship and soul. Of course unlike Trey he’s never put together a band/overall musical experience that is anywhere close to that of Phish where you can see 10 shows in a year and be spiritually inspired by each one in a totally different way.

    As somebody said, when it comes down to it, I’ll take Trey type II over anybody out there, period.

    As for the shows at MSG: the Garden acoustics are simply dynamite. What a place to see a show. The great sound combined with the unmatched energy from band and crowd alike make this hands down my favorite Phishy experience of the year.

    Highlights for me: Light -> Slave, All of Set II from 12/3, Seven Below -> Twist, and YEM

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