Phish | 5.31.09 | Boston

Words by: Brian Bavosa | Images by: Dave Vann

Phish :: 05.31.09 :: Fenway Park :: Boston, MA

Phish :: 05.31.09 :: Fenway Park
Fenway Park. Home of Bucky Dent's ghost, Ted Williams' .406 average and finally, the place where an 80-plus year World Series-less curse ended. Fenway again saw some great moments Sunday night by a pinch hitter called Phish. Otherwise known as Coran Capshaw's flipside to a Dave Matthews-laced, Red Light Management filled weekend (Matthews played Fenway Friday and Saturday for the northeastern, prepster masses).

Last night's summer tour opening show began with an unexpected rainstorm right before the scheduled 6:30 p.m. showtime, when the fabulous foursome, Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Page McConnell and Jon Fishman, sauntered - or better yet were escorted - to the mound area of Fenway, which was roped off, to sing "The Star Spangled Banner" before being serenaded by cheers and applause during a roughly five-minute break before taking the left-centerfield stage and blasting into "Sample in a Jar," the catchy tune off 1994's Hoist.

Immediately afterwards things turned up and the band launched into the deliciously delectable "Moma Dance." The rest of the first set saw some old chestnuts - "Bouncin'," "Poor Heart" and raging set closer "Character Zero" - mixed with a debut of "Ocelot," a new tune leaked this week from the not-so-secret practice sessions at the Centrum, excuse me, DCU Center in Worcester (WOOSTA!) Mass. Basically, the first set was what it looks like - Phish 3.0 – with the focus on more songs (Set One saw 14 played) with less jamming.

Trey :: 05.31.09 :: Fenway Park
Oh yeah, the band also played "Destiny Unbound" (bust out number one of the night) in the first set, only the second time in nearly 20 years (the only other being the semi-epic, post-hiatus throw-down of 2.28.03 at Nassau Coliseum). Like the comeback shows at Hampton in March, the band finally did let loose a little during "Down with Disease" towards the end of set one. High flying as always, this tune had me cracking up during the line, "a thousand barefoot children outside/ dancing on my lawn," as I watched the masses gyrate on the outfield grass.

But, the show solidified itself as one of the most solid tour openers in years in the second set. Launching off with a giant, funky "Tweezer," it was one of the tunes where the wind seemed to blow the sound directly into my chest cavity where I was sitting behind home plate, slightly up the first base line. Segueing into "Light," another of Trey's new tunes, it was clear the band was confident and could certainly play anything they wanted from anywhere in the catalogue. "Light" is a song that appears to have huge jam potential, should the band want to take it that way.

The double play combo of "Bathtub Gin" and "David Bowie" were more feared than Manny Ramirez and Big Papi in their heydays, and both crushed doubles off the Green Monster this night. "Time Turns Elastic," Phish's "single," as Trey joked, made its proper debut as well, complete with Trey sporting a new, green Languedoc guitar. This composition - and that is what this piece of music is - is a throwback to Trey's composed pieces of old with a new flavor of maturity that has certainly become part of his life over the last few years.

Phish :: 05.31.09 :: Fenway Park
By far though, my highlight of the night - hell, my year - was the totally unexpected, out of leftfield mega-bust out of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "The Ballad of Curtis Loew," an absolutely magnificent little tune that showcases Page's vocals and smooth, bluesy licks by Trey; this is a song that fits Phish on so many levels. Toss in the fact that it hadn't been played since the spring of '93 (although it was soundchecked on 12.29.99 at Big Cypress) and this very well could be my highlight of the entire tour – and it occurred during the very first show! A special, special treat for the old time fans, for sure with Curtis Loew. Kudos, boys, for dusting this one off.

"You Enjoy Myself" closed things out and featured some absolutely delicious bass bombs from Gordon, a Massachusetts native. A "triple play" encore of "Cavern," "Good Times, Bad Times" and "Tweezer Reprise" saw Phish put an exclamation point on their first summer show in five years, which glowed with stellar playing, an absolutely ridiculous song selection and their traditional knack for keeping things unique by choosing the locale of Fenway to start things off.

Upon my exit from the quaint ballpark post-show, the night was summed up by one image I saw - two buddies high-fiving and hugging, one with a Derek Jeter jersey on, the other with Dustin Pedroia. Yes, it was the only night in the history of Fenway where both Yanks and Sox fans left satisfied.

Next up, Jones Beach...

Phish :: 05.31.09 :: Fenway Park :: Boston, MA
Set I: Star Spangled Banner*, Sample in a Jar, Moma Dance, Chalk Dust Torture, Ocelot**, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Poor Heart, Limb by Limb, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Down with Disease, Destiny Unbound, Character Zero
Set II: Tweezer, Light**^ > Bathtub Gin, David Bowie, Time Turns Elastic**, Free, (The Ballad of) Curtis Loew, You Enjoy Myself
E: Cavern, Good Times Bad Times, Tweezer Reprise

Notes: * a capella on the pitcher's mound, ** debut performance, ^ first segue since Coventry?

Brian Bavosa and Dave Vann are JamBase's team on tour. Keep an eye on our Phish Summer Tour Page for lots more from tour...

Continue reading for more pics of Phish at Fenway...

Don't forget to check our Phish Summer Tour Page for all your tour needs...

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