Words by: Brian Bavosa | Images by: Dave Vann
Phish :: 03.06.09 :: Hampton Coliseum :: Hampton, VA
For the last fifteen years of my life, THEY taught me the meaning of tension and release. Since October 1, the tension has been mounting. Before sex, before the pure golf shot, before witnessing a no-hitter, there was THEM: TreyMikePageFish. Tonight, THEY came back: like an old flame that you knew was meant to be in your life, the one you were destined to end up with 'til death do you part.
They're Back :: 03.06 :: Hampton, VA|
Oftentimes in big sports match-ups, you hear an announcer say, "This is a statement game." Well, for the almighty band of our jam band generation - PHISH - tonight, their first show in four-and-a-half years, was a chance to redeem one of the most embarrassing bow-outs in rock history (cough cough, Coventry - read the review here). And, with one simple chord, the statement reigned true...
The first time played since 2000, (and first show opener since '91), The Boys made sure the phaithful and new alike were aware who was in charge - today and always. The place flipped-out.
Over the next hour and fifty minutes — yes, almost two hours — the band played a seventeen song first set, basically double the normal length. With such old-school chestnuts as "Divided Sky," "Chalkdust Torture" and a set closing "David Bowie," there was no mistaking the fact that Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Page McConnell and Jon Fishman were very consciously making their statement. And they delivered, erasing the painful memories and bitter taste many fans have had in their mouth since the debacle that was Coventry.
When the lights dropped this time, as opposed to MSG '02 (read MSG review here), I couldn't help but think the roles were reversed. In '02, the fans were ready for Phish. I honestly felt after last night's show, the band was more ready than we were. And goddamn, they sounded good. To my ears, last night's MVP was without a doubt McConnell. He was louder in the mix and contributed MUCH more than in the later, post-hiatus years, filling gaps effortlessly and adding some much welcomed funk in songs like a stellar "Suzy Greenburg."
Phish :: 03.06 :: Hampton, VA|
The second set opened with "Backwards Down the Number Line," and it was a very strong first effort. This will certainly be a tune the band and fans alike will grow to love, as its potential is limitless. A funky "Tweezer" gave way to a soaring "Theme From the Bottom." In my opinion, these are the best jams Phish plays - the triumphant, yet delicate peaking thunder much in the vein of a "Slave," "Reba," or "Harry Hood" — which coincidentally came a few short songs later and witnessed a new lighting rig placed over the middle of the crowd as the band led us through a glorious version.
"You Enjoy Myself" saw the band start in the wrong key and have Trey restart it, but with a good laugh. It was the only blemish on the evening's monstrous performance. Toss in a triple encore of "Grind," in which each member sang the exact number of how many days they have been alive, "Bouncing Around the Room," and a smoking "Loving Cup" (one of their best encores), the show clocked in at exactly FOUR hours and twenty minutes.
It's safe to say that PHISH is back, in a big way, reminding fans that after 4.5 years away, they are rededicated, refreshed and ready to rock. Welcome back boys, we've missed you.
Read the review of Hampton Night Two here...
Chalkdust Torture from Jesse Borrell on Vimeo.
03.06.09 :: Hampton Coliseum :: Hampton, VA
Set I: Fluffhead*, The Divided Sky, Chalkdust Torture, Sample in a Jar, Stash, I Didn't Know#, Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, Farmhouse, NICU, Horn, Rift, Train Song, Water in the Sky, Squirming Coil, David Bowie
Set II: Backwards Down The Number Line^, Tweezer, Taste, Possum, Theme from the Bottom, First Tube, Harry Hood, Waste, You Enjoy Myself
E: Grind**, Bouncing Around the Room, Loving Cup
* Last played 9/28/2000
# with Trey on drums
** Last played 12/30/98
You can download this show for free at LivePhish.com.
Continue reading for Take Two of Night One...