Phish Begins 2018 Alpharetta Run – Recap, Setlist & The Skinny
After a series of nine shows out west and one in Texas, Phish opened the East Coast portion of Summer Tour 2018 on Friday with the first of three nights at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre At Encore Park in Alpharetta, Georgia. Phish put together a masterpiece on night one in Alpharetta filled with otherworldly improvisation including a 20+-minute “Ghost” in the first set and standout versions of “Tweezer” and “Carini” as part of an outstanding second set.
Phish wasted no time getting down to business in Alpharetta by kicking off the show with a run of “First Tube,” “No Men In No Man’s Land” and “Ghost.” The band hadn’t opened with “First Tube” since July 14, 2013 and performed the instrumental at what seemed like a quicker tempo than usual. “No Men In No Man’s Land” may have only spanned 10 minutes, but the foursome fit plenty of action into the evening’s first of many dense jams. Guitarist Trey Anastasio stoked the fire with Tru-Tron-powered riffs, while keyboardist Page McConnell expertly moved from Clavinet to grand piano to electric piano to synth. Yet it was the “Ghost” from the sequence that will be best remembered.
The must-hear Alpharetta “Ghost” was one for the ages that featured three distinct movements. First, the quartet patiently worked over a pretty major-key improv, which alone would have made this version a winner. The trip to blissville was followed by an exploration of a dark, dirty and downright swampy jam space that had all the hallmarks of the tour’s best jams. No one member took control, and this part wasn’t about a peak, instead all four made their presences felt as they pushed and prodded each other to greatness. Bassist Mike Gordon utilized an unusual synthed-out tone that gave the segment a particularly groovy feel. The third and final section of the “Ghost” jam was indeed about a peak with all the tension built over the previous 20 minutes resolving in an explosive climax. When was the last 20-minute first set “Ghost?” Nearly 19 years ago on October 9, 1999.
After the high-impact start to the show, the foursome gave fans a breather with the tour debut of Round Room ballad “All Of These Dreams.” This would be the only slow moment of the entire 86-minute frame. Next came screaming versions of “Back On The Train,” “Free,” “Martian Monster” and “Tube” that were all well-executed. While none of the four broke form, the band filled the nooks and crannies of each with delightful fills. Phish was feeling it. The first eight songs of the night were either instrumentals or sung by Trey, so it was a nice contrast when bassist Mike Gordon had a turn on lead vocals for “555.” More fretboard fireworks from Anastasio were in store for the typically fierce “Walls Of The Cave” set closer.
So how would Phish come out of the gates after a scorching first set? “Tweezer” got the call and it didn’t take long for the group to make a sharp turn back into blissville. Trey and Page connected on a beautiful riff the quartet used as the base for the majority of the “Tweezer” jam. Mike stirred the pot with countermelodies while drummer Jon Fishman laid down a beat reminiscent of a “Theme From The Bottom” jam. “Tweezer” came to an organic conclusion and “Blaze On” began. Anastasio put extra emphasis on certain lyrics including “So why not be like me? be proud of all your crimes.” The guitarist gave his Wah-wah pedal a workout during a “Blaze On” jam in which Gordon was incredibly deep within the pocket. Fish powered yet another impressive bout of improv with a hypnotic groove. Once again Anastasio put his Wah-wah pedal to heavy use on the “Prince Caspian” that followed.
The embarrassment of riches continued with an instant classic “Carini” that saw Phish explore more of the bliss-laden ground covered earlier in “Tweezer.” Trey played an anthemic lead akin to The Band’s “Chest Fever” that the group picked up on and rode to glory. McConnell, Gordon and Anastasio took turns offering variations of the theme before changing keys once again. The second section of the “Carini” jam was a psychedelic excursion of the highest order. Page called to the aliens with synth squonks, while Trey focused on choppy and wild rhythms. “Simple” emerged out of the madness and while Phish played it straight, the delicate breakdown at the end featured an exchange of gorgeous melodies.
A tender and graceful “Winterqueen” followed “Simple” and then it was time for the tour’s third “Harry Hood.” The Beyond The Pond Team hit the nail on the head with this description: “At the risk of sounding blasphemous, this ‘Hood’ is similar to 94 ‘Hoods’ in the sense that they’ve selected a single riff within the theme of the song to build its peak on. Very focused and deliberate version here.” Friday in Alpharetta was all about Phish creating riffs to build off of with massive success. It happened in “Ghost,” it happened in “Tweezer,” it happened in “Carini” and it happened in “Harry Hood.”
Friday’s concert concluded with an encore of “More,” as they left “Tweezer Reprise” on the table. Previously, “More” had only been used as a set closer. Phish returns to Alpharetta on Saturday night. A webcast is available via LivePhish.com.
Ameris Bank Amphitheatre [See upcoming shows]
9 shows — 07/03/2010, 07/04/2010, 06/14/2011, 06/15/2011, 07/16/2013, 07/17/2013, 08/03/2014, 10/21/2016, 10/22/2016
10 songs / 8:08 pm to 9:34 pm (86 minutes)
8 songs / 10:06 pm to 11:35 pm (89 minutes)
18 songs / 18 originals / 0 covers
7.5 [Gap chart]
First Tube, All Of These Dreams, Winterqueen
All Of These Dreams - 29 Shows (LTP - 07/22/2017)
Ghost - 22:27
All Of These Dreams and Martian Monster - 4:05
A Picture of Nectar - 1, Billy Breathes - 2, The Story of the Ghost - 1, Farmhouse - 2, Round Room - 2, Fuego - 2, Big Boat - 3, Misc. - 5,
81° and mostly cloudy at show time
Phish From The Road Photos
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