Maine Event: Phish Returns To Cross Insurance Arena In Portland – Recap, Setlist & The Skinny

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On Wednesday night Phish continued summer tour at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine; a venue that has hosted many special shows over the years including the first-ever H.O.R.D.E. concert, a memorable New Year’s Run performance in 1993 and the famed “Dog Log” show in 1995. Wednesday’s gig marked the quartet’s return to the venue formerly known as Cumberland County Civic Center for the first time since 2009. The band’s return to Portland featured a career-spanning setlist of purely original material with little in the way of full-band improvisation and a few choice bust outs.

Phish made the rare move of opening with an a capella number in the form of “Grind,” the evening’s first tour debut. The Vermonters kept the tour debuts coming with the year’s first “Cars Trucks Buses.” Not only was “Cars Trucks Buses” a tour debut, but it hadn’t been performed in 92 shows the longest gap since the song was unveiled in 1995. The frenetic instrumental gave way to another “Blaze On.” Guitarist Trey Anastasio unleashed a furious solo as part of the tight version of the rocker. Bassist Mike Gordon then stepped into the spotlight to lead the band through “Yarmouth Road” at a venue just 12 miles south of Yarmouth, Maine. Unlike “Sugar Shack” on Sunday, Trey expertly powered through Mike’s tune on this night. A straight-forward “Kill Devil Falls” came next and was followed by the year’s first “The Sloth.”

“The Sloth” led into the tour’s second “Billy Breathes” marking the shortest gap between versions of the ballad (it was last played at the tour opener in St. Paul) since 2000 and makes Summer ’16 the first tour since Summer ’03 to feature two takes on the song. “My Friend, My Friend” was up next along with the second “Heavy Things” in two shows. The heavy rotation staples trend continued with “555.” Keyboardist Page McConnell then fronted the group on the second-ever rendition of his bluegrassy number “Things People Do” which broke up a double dose of Fuego tunes as “The Line” followed. “Stash” closed out the first set. The quartet started the “Stash” jam from near silence and built the improv to a frenzied peak featuring rapid fire riffing from Anastasio to end the opening stanza.

Trey was full of energy to start the second set as he was jumping and moving all around his part of the stage during the “First Tube” opener. “Tweezer” has been such a staple of Phish performances that a mere seven-show gap between the version in Portland and Wrigley Field version tied for the longest gap between “Tweezers” of 2.0 and 3.0. The foursome quickly moved beyond the normal dark and dirty “Tweezer” boundaries to a pretty major-key jam space. Phish explored the beautiful territory for a few marvelous minutes with McConnell on electric piano and drummer Jon Fishman switching up the beat seemingly between every measure. Once the band had their fill they pulled off a transition into “Guyute,” a tour debut which was last played way back on Halloween ’14.

The old school start to the set continued with “Mike’s Song.” Anastasio toyed with chunky rhythms as McConnell delivered powerful organ blasts to set the pace for the “Mike’s” jam. Trey then led a build to a fierce climax. “Mike’s” nearly came to a full stop before the band began the second-ever rendition of the Trey-sung ballad “Tide Turns.” The tide did indeed turn for the set as the mellow vibes continued with the mid-tempo, dad rocker “Devotion To A Dream” and the Pink Floyd-esque “Wingsuit.” While “Bittersweet Motel” didn’t pick the energy up, it was a true bust out as it was last played on July 4, 2012 – a span of 146 shows.

Fan favorite “Fluffhead” finally got the capacity crowd back on its feet. One audience member took his excitement too far by jumping on stage and trying to play Fish’s kit towards the beginning of “Fluffhead.” Thankfully he was quickly escorted off stage. Five songs after “Mike’s Song” came its partner in crime “Weekapaug Groove.” All four members of the band displayed nice interplay throughout the fun romp through “Weekapaug.”

Phish said farewell to the Portland faithful with a “Contact”/”Tweezer Reprise” encore. “Contact” was played by request of Trey to Mike and was the evening’s sixth and final tour debut. Next up for the quartet is a Friday night show in Mansfield, Massachusetts.

Here’s more details about the stage crashing incident from JamBase contributor Aaron Stein:

The Skinny

The Setlist

The Venue

Cross Insurance Arena [See upcoming shows]

6 shows — 07/09/1992, 12/30/1993, 12/11/1995, 12/07/1999, 12/08/1999, 11/29/2009

The Music

13 songs / 8:09 pm to 9:30 pm (81 minutes)

12 songs / 10:05 pm to 11:37 pm (92 minutes)

25 songs / 25 originals / 0 covers

2000

18.88 [Gap chart]

None

Grind, Cars Trucks Buses, The Sloth, Guyute, Bittersweet Motel, Contact

Bittersweet Motel - 146 Shows (Last Time Played = July 4, 2012)

Fluffhead 14:22

Grind 2:22

Junta - 2, A Picture of Nectar - 3, Rift - 1, Billy Breathes - 2, The Story of the Ghost - 1, Farmhouse - 2, Undermind - 1, Joy - 1, Fuego - 4, Misc. - 8

The Rest

71° and Partly Cloudy

Ocedoc

Capacity: 9,500

Phish From The Road Photos

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