Phish | 08.02 | Red Rocks Day 4

Words by: Brian Bavosa | Images by: Dave Vann

Phish :: 08.02.09 :: Red Rocks Amphitheatre :: Morrison, CO

Phish :: 08.02 :: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Sunday night closed out Phish's famed return to Red Rocks. With hundreds of ticket-less folks outside and word of a tight band to kick off the current tour, hopes were high for the final night. Keeping with the theme of busting out fan favorites, Phish took the stage shortly after 8 p.m. and jumped into Ween's "Roses Are Free." The previous night there was a fan up close who had a sign that read, "Jerry Loves Roses," and apparently threw roses on the stage during the encore, with a note that quoted one of the songs lines: "Don't believe the florist," which Trey supposedly picked up as he walked off stage. I guess he took the hint because it was only the second time the band has played "Roses" since 2000, with the other being a badly butchered version at Alpine Valley in '04. This version was tight, short and to the point and, like many songs this run, well executed.

"Wilson" kept the energy high and echoed the call-and-response between the band and crowd, before Trey blistered his ways through this oldie but goodie. An always fun "NICU," which, in my opinion, has one of the most unique grooves of any Phish number, saw McConnell take charge after Trey demanded, "Play it, Leo!," a tradition for this tune. An early set "Prince Caspian" and an out of place, mid-set, a cappella "Grind," which Phish apparently loves singing, sandwiched another big gem, "Reba." One of Phish's compositional masterpieces, "Reba" had some intricate portions before a chill section that blasted into a soaring, uplifting jam. It's one of the easiest tunes to close your eyes and drift off with. This version, sans the whistling at the end, was spot on and allowed me to do just that. Also, somewhere in there, Trey thanked everyone for making this weekend possible and relayed how much the band loved playing at Red Rocks.

McConnell - Phish :: 08.02 :: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
The rest of set one took on a slight resemblance to the Worcester Centrum show in '03, where the band debuted a tune from each of their solo projects. The second ever rendition of McConnell's "Beauty of a Broken Heart" from his '07 album (read the JamBase interview with Page about this release here), and the second ever Gordon tune, debuted earlier this summer, "Sugar Shack," filled in the latter portions of set one. "Broken Heart" allows Page to shine on vocals in a different way than his normal crooning, and boasts a really solid jam with collective efforts by the four members. "Sugar Shack" is, simply put, a Gordo tune. It screams quirky, bassy and bubbly, and is impossible to not bounce to. "Waste" and "Kill Devil Falls," the new, 3.0 rocker off the forthcoming new album, Joy, closed a set one that was well played but sort of all over the map.

The second set held the fireworks and more surprises. "Boogie On Reggae Woman" kicked things off and was super funky, with Gordon's bombs leading the way and Trey's sexy guitar licks hot on his heels. This was a very good version, indeed. "You Enjoy Myself," one of the remaining big guns, was up next, and appropriate since many claim the 6.11.94 version of "YEM" from Red Rocks to be one of, if not the best ever. It showed the band was focused and ready to rock. "YEM" highlighted everything Phish represents - soaring solos, funky bass lines, sharp interplay, trampoline dance moves and a vocal jam at the song's end - under black-and-white lights that segued seamlessly into "Undermind." During the vocal jam, a second drum kit was set up and Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead) took a spot behind the kit to help push the set along. This again made me think of the final night at RR in '96 where Phish welcomed Tim O'Brien to help them close that run out. Anyone that wanted a Jerry Garcia nod the previous night on his birthday would have to settle for Kreutzmann this night. Kreutzmann and Gordon have played together with Scott Murawski, so this sit in is not as far-fetched as some might think, but still awesome nonetheless.

Anastasio - Phish :: 08.02 :: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
A loose and funky "Undermind," which seemed to take its time (a strength of the song), led into a fierce drum duel between Fishman and Kreutzmann, before Trey hit the opening hook for "Seven Below," which bobbed and weaved with Trey repeating the infectious licks while Fish and Kreutzmann had a ball holding down the low end with arms flailing to and fro. A complete segueway-fest saw the band dive into some spacier territory for "Also Sprach Zarathustra," commonly referred to as the "Theme from 2001." All songs with Kreutzmann were a half step slower - in a good, loose way - and the "2001" was no exception. In fact, it was so loose and dance-able with all of the empty space moving in and out that it was like trying to eat tomato soup with a fork - things just kept morphing and moving in a slippery way.

"Waves" saw Kuroda's lights shine once more on the majestic setting of Red Rocks before Trey took hold and shook all in attendance with a raging "Character Zero." An all out fireball of blazing, scorching, heavy guitar rock, "Zero" is a fist-pumper that fires up everyone something fierce. It was a great ending to a super, guest filled second set.

The encore saw the four members proper come out again and had Trey explain that his daughter had been asking him to play this tune all tour and in turn, dedicated it to "Matt," whom his daughter said should "keep your hair straight," before the first "Bittersweet Motel" since Star Lake in '03. "Bouncing Around the Room," one of the songs that anyone who casually likes Phish probably knows, was nice to hear, regardless of whether you love or hate it, and featured the typical vocal levels and jam that peters out.

However, I simply knew the band wasn't quite done yet, and was hoping for the one song that felt right to close things out: "Slave to the Traffic Light." My personal, favorite Phish song, "Slave" represents the delicate, raw thunder and emotion that is Phish in a nutshell. It was the perfect closer to a historic, four-night run and return to one of the most amazing venues on Earth. And as "Slave" wowed the crowd with its sheer emotion, it felt more comfortable than a fleece blanket on a cold, winter night. An absolutely perfect conclusion.

Phish :: 08.02 :: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Phish :: 08.02.09 :: Red Rocks Amphitheatre :: Morrison, CO
Set I: Roses Are Free, Wilson, NICU, Prince Caspian, Get Back on the Train, Reba, Grind, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Sample in a Jar, Sugar Shack, Waste, Kill Devil Falls
Set II: Boogie on Reggae Woman, You Enjoy Myself > Undermind* > Drums* > Seven Below* > 2001* > Waves* > Character Zero*
E: Bittersweet Hotel, Bouncing Around The Room, Slave to the Traffic Light
* with Billy Kreutzmann

For more pics of Red Rocks Sunday night go here.

Phish perform again Wednesday night at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA. Check back for live Tweets, setlists, pics and full reviews. Complete Phish tour dates available here.

Just like Leg I of Phish's Summer Tour, JamBase will be at every stop with more coverage than you'll find anywhere! Keep up to speed with all things Phish at jambase.com/phish.

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[Published on: 8/3/09]

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