Living With A Cinnamon Show: Night Seven Of Phish Baker’s Dozen Residency – Recap, Setlist & The Skinny
Here we are in the thick of this unprecedented 13-show Phish run at Madison Square Garden. Show number seven of the “Baker’s Dozen” – smack-dab in the middle of what is already a historic run. Six tremendously fun shows came before, and in a run with so many remarkable highlights, it is hard to believe there are six more shows still to be played. Coming into the show, it seemed quite likely that the rumored “no repeats” would indeed materialize. After tonight, and yet again, without repeating a single song over the span of seven shows, it now seems impossible that Phish won’t pull off this Herculean task and add yet another merit badge to their collective sash.
While former Grateful Dead tour manager Sam Cutler thinks the donut gimmick is “infantile,” the donut flavor of “Cinnamon” added yet more unexpected twists and surprises throughout the night as it has throughout the run. It is hard to imagine thinking that creative setlist picks, themes, unexpected covers and lyric word-play deftly weaved into the sets and strung together over so many nights while simultaneously touching on the band’s vast repertoire is anything close to infantile.
The brilliance of the MSG residency continues to shine in how cohesive the shows have been not only with setlist construction but how well the shows continue to unfold as part of a bigger story. Long residencies afford a band time to get comfortable, loosen up and take risks in new musical territory. Amazingly, Phish wasted no time in the “getting comfortable” part. Since Night One, and the kickoff of “Shake Your Coconuts,” both the band and the fans have indeed followed the plea to “keep on getting down” and “keep on having fun.”
Just like previous nights, Phish took the stage not much past 8:00 pm and immediately fired up the crowd with an incendiary “Llama” eschewing a song selection that fit the nightly donut theme. But no matter, the “Llama” rocked with its typical energy and a good selection for a Saturday night opener. Energetic chants of “Wilson” bellowed from the crowd as the band T’eed up the Gamehendge number. “Wilson” does not typically enjoy extended improv but Trey seemed to stumble into a jammed out ending. ”Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan” played it fairly straight and was followed by a “Ya Mar” that was quite fun and seemed to be more spirited and playful than usual with an interesting new arrangement. A typically beautiful “Tela” followed and then Chiiling, Thrilling’s “The Birds” attacked. Pushing deeper into the set without any hint of the night’s “theme,” Phish segued into “The Line” which sported a quicker clip than is usually played.
Sans the couple minutes of creative jamming at the end of “Wilson,” the set was devoid of anything especially jam-worthy but some brilliant synth solo work by Page McConnell in “Water In The Sky” was nice to hear. Short and sweet, “Vultures,” “Train Song” and “Horn” followed before a particularly fiery “I Am The Walrus” closed the set which hilariously sported some “Your Pet Cat” and “The Birds” loops. The “Walrus” was loud and monstrous as if the band was boasting of things to come. As it closed the set, one could only wonder if the lack of any “Cinnamon” song, and the first set of the run without a donut themed song, portended even bigger surprises in the second set.
The second Set kicked off with Big Boat’s “Blaze On” which has often featured an extended jam section or even two. In its short history since debuting two years ago in the summer of 2015, “Blaze On” has had exemplary performances at a pair of occasions at Dicks, Magnaball and its second performance at Shoreline. Tonight’s Madison Square Garden version instantly made the conversation of “best ever” moot. Crushing the fabled “20-minute” mark that many use to signify a “long jam,” this “Blaze On” had it all: fire, butter, modulating jams, darkness and light. Whatever excitement the first set may have lacked seemed to be a distant memory after that monster. “Twenty Years Later” followed, and again feature explosive playing by Anastasio which featured some Led Zeppelin-esque riffs.
The old school rocker, “Alumni Blues” followed with Trey exhorting Mike Gordon to “play the bass.” Mike happily obliged with a jaunty bass solo’ette. And what old school “Alumni” would not be played without the requisite, “Letter to Jimmy Page?” Everything was indeed alright “cause Mike is playing the bass!” Some riffing back and forth with Mike and Trey facing each other closed the energetic “Alumni.”
“Meatstick,” which famously was the centerpiece of the band’s New Year’s Eve show in 2010 at the same venue, came next and as always, got the whole crowd into it singing, swaying and doing the “Meatstick” dance. BUT just when the crowd thinks the rote “Meatstick” is winding down…things got weird. Real weird. And with Phish, weird is usually good. A couple minutes of ambient jamming a la Superball’s “Storage Jam” was absolutely perfect in that spot. The moody and sparse “Dirt” followed before the band kicked into “Harry Hood.”
Again, one could easily be fooled into thinking the “Harry” would be the oft played set closer with its normal peaks. But this “Harry” was so much more. Soaring peaks, Allman Brothers’ “Mountain Jam” teases, and Trey’s soulful guitar wails filled the arena. And before you know it, the set is over…but what about the Cinnamon theme?
In a surprise twist, the donut theme was not weaved throughout the set and had to wait for the encore slot. Many fans expected it all night long and Neil Young’s much-loved, “Cinnamon Girl” finally kicked into gear. Debuted 28 years ago when the band played the song at the hole-in-the-wall Gallaghers in Waitsfield, Vermont, it had only been played twice since with the last performance in 1997 just a day short of 20 years and 629 shows ago. While this was the first show of the “Baker’s Dozen” that took all the way to the encore to deliver the theme, sometimes, good things come to those that wait.
Madison Square Garden [See upcoming shows]
45 shows — 12/30/1994, 12/30/1995, 12/31/1995, 10/21/1996, 10/22/1996, 12/29/1997, 12/30/1997, 12/31/1997, 12/28/1998, 12/29/1998, 12/30/1998, 12/31/1998, 12/31/2002, 12/02/2009, 12/03/2009, 12/04/2009, 12/30/2010, 12/31/2010, 01/01/2011, 12/28/2011, 12/29/2011, 12/30/2011, 12/31/2011, 12/28/2012, 12/29/2012, 12/30/2012, 12/31/2012, 12/28/2013, 12/29/2013, 12/30/2013, 12/31/2013, 12/30/2015, 12/31/2015, 01/01/2016, 01/02/2016, 12/28/2016, 12/29/2016, 12/30/2016, 12/31/2016, 07/21/2017, 07/22/2017, 07/23/2017, 07/25/2017, 07/26/2017, 07/28/2017
12 songs / 8:09 pm to 9:27 pm (78 minutes)
8 songs / 9:58 pm to 11:15 pm (77 minutes)
20 songs / 17 originals / 3 covers
51 [Gap chart]
Llama, Tela, The Birds, Water In The Sky, Vultures, Train Song, I Am The Walrus, Alumni Blues, Letter To Jimmy Page, Meatstick, Dirt, Cinnamon Girl
Cinnamon Girl - 629 Shows (LTP - 07/31/1997)
Blaze On 23:48
Letter To Jimmy Page - 1:17
A Picture of Nectar - 1, Rift - 1, Billy Breathes - 1, The Story of the Ghost - 1, Farmhouse - 1, Joy - 2, Fuego - 1, Big Boat - 1, Misc. - 8, Covers - 3
76° and Mostly Cloudy at Showtime
Capacity: 20,789 Donut Flavor: Cinnamon