Phish Concludes 2018 Alpharetta Run – Recap, Setlist & The Skinny
Phish concluded their three-night run at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in suburban Atlanta much like they did when they kicked off the run on Friday night with yet another strong first set and huge jams peppered throughout the show. In Alpharetta, the band seems to have shaken off the early tour jitters that sometimes found them a bit disjointed and offering some mixed results. However, Sunday night’s show was a continuum of the brilliance that the band has had on display throughout the weekend. With the foursome finding themselves in lock-step, the results have been impressive. Starting from Friday’s show-stopper in the early first set “Ghost”, the omens looked good for a weekend full of highlights. Outstanding versions of “Tweezer,” “Carini” and “Harry Hood” were all sandwiched into the Friday show. Stellar improvisation and interplanetary exploration was the headline on Saturday night with a “Soul Planet,” “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” > “Piper” sequence that packaged an amazing journey and variety of jamming onto those three songs.
The capacity crowd was eager to find out what the band had in store to kick off the second half of the Summer 2018 tour. Their question was answered quickly as the lights dimmed and Mike led the band into the Hot Chocolate cover, “You Sexy Thing” which debuted at last summer’s “Double Chocolate Show” and hadn’t been performed since. The funky and soul dripping cover was fun enough but the grins quickly gave way to shit-eating grins as Phish ripped into “Tweezer Reprise,” properly closing the “Tweezer” from Friday night. The high energy song often closes out shows or sets and hadn’t even been seen in a first set since closing out the first set at UMass in the Fall of 2010. High energy morphed into high space with yet another unusual call for an early first set appearance, the majestic and trippy “What’s The Use?” from The Siket Disc. While not quite a rare gem anymore, “What’s the Use?” is still an enjoyable piece of psychedelia that often gets the bands’ creative juices flowing.
The orchestral sounding and long-form composition, “Petrichor” followed and made its first appearance of the year. It seemed an appropriate choice with the song’s refrain, “And the rain came down” after the area was pelted with rain storms on Sunday. Like “Time Turns Elastic,” there is a lot to digest in this song. Melodic passages, delicate sections and different tempos are scattered throughout the song. Generously, if there must be evil to have good and dark to have light, perhaps a set needs a “Petrichor” to fully enjoy the high octane of the “Tweezer Reprise” that preceded it. Despite some difficulty by guitarist Trey Anastasio in executing some of the more intricate parts of the song, it finally did build to a climactic conclusion.
Another tour debut followed in “Most Events Aren’t Planned.” Phish really put their own stamp on this “Vida Blue” cover which had only been played twice previously. In addition to keyboardist Page McConnell offering up some extra flourishes on the keys, Anastasio used a wide range of effects that he’s been deploying this summer and bassist Mike Gordon offered an especially lush groove.
“Vultures” continued the tour-debut trend. Some early difficulty in execution was brushed aside and the crowd quickly forgave the flubs and gave it the full “Woo” treatment by the end.
Fan favorite “Reba” followed and the blissful jamming included drummer Jon Fishman delicately chanting, “I Believe In Miracles” and trying ever so subtly to tweak the band back in the direction of “You Sexy Thing.” While the detour didn’t work, the path nevertheless led to a most enjoyable route with an explosive “Sand” to close the set. Phish often uses “Sand” as an improvisational springboard in the second set but a set closing exclamation point suits this song just fine too.
In a harbinger of a good thing right around the corner, “Taste” kicked off the second set for the first time since the cow funk-laden era of 1997. The concise take enjoyed teases of “What’s The Use?” and “You Sexy Thing” sprinkled into Anastasio’s guitar peaks and band interplay.
“Sand” might have closed the first set but its spirit shone brightly in the “Golden Age” that followed “Taste.” A strong candidate for highlight of the weekend run, this “Golden Age” delivered all band members, again, in perfect lock-step. Each tossing off phrases that swirled around in the synthed-out bliss. When “Golden Age” gets in the pocket with major-key jams, good things often happen and Alpharetta’s version was no exception. Seamlessly strung together, the jam seemed to crystallize out of thin air and effortlessly dripped off Anastasio’s guitar. While the band didn’t fully turn the corner, they were tantalizingly close to fully returning to “Reba”. An incredibly fun end to the “Golden Age”, the band used the “Reba” whistling and a dollop of “Reba” melody to wind down the 20-minute segment before segueing into a strong but short “Twist.” Another relatively short take on a song that is often stretched out followed in “Waves.” The song did enjoy some ambient spacey fun but didn’t go terribly deep.
The title track from the band’s 2014 album, Fuego, filled the five slot in the second set. Again, perhaps after leaving their improvisational gas tank running on fumes after exhausting it during the “Golden Age,” the “Fuego” fizzled without much fire and gave way to the perky and upbeat “The Mango Song.” Like “Taste” that started the set, this was yet another tour debut on Sunday night.
A smoking hot “Bathtub Gin” followed. It started with a relaxed pace and breezy feel but the simmer built to a rolling boil with a near ”First Tube” like explosion of energy with bright, white lights pulsating and illuminating the stage and crowd before the band slipped back into “You Sexy Thing” to close the set.
One of the band’s oldest songs, “Fee,” was the first encore. Maybe owing to the age of song, the lyrics didn’t come easy to Anastasio who struggled getting the correct words through the megaphone. Have no fear, Trey cleverly devised a scheme where he wouldn’t need to worry about the lyrics and even ensured the crowd that they knew the lyrics too. With more teases of “You Sexy Thing” mixed in, the band launched into “Also Sprach Zarathrusta.” This instrumental gem has never closed a Phish show but did so with aplomb and distinction. With even more “You Sexy Thing” teases and quotes and a “Tweezer Reprise” build, Phish slammed the door shut loudly on the show and the three-day run in Alpharetta.
Phish resumes the tour on Tuesday night in Camden, New Jersey.
Ameris Bank Amphitheatre [See upcoming shows]
11 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, 08/03/2018, 08/04/2018
8 songs / 8:08 pm to 9:18 pm (70 minutes)
9 songs / 9:54 pm to 11:24 pm (90 minutes)
17 songs / 14 originals / 3 covers
13.5 [Gap chart]
You Sexy Thing, Petrichor, Most Events Are Planned, Vultures, Taste, The Mango Song, Fee
The Mango Song - 32 Shows (LTP - 07/21/2017)
Golden Age - 18:42
You Sexy Thing (Reprise) - 2:19
Junta - 1, Lawn Boy - 2, A Picture of Nectar - 2, Billy Breathes - 1, Farmhouse - 2, Round Room - 1, Fuego - 1, Big Boat - 1, Misc. - 3, Covers - 3
80° and fair at showtime
Phish From The Road Photos
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