Phish Delivers ‘Simple’ For The Ages On This Date In 1996

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On November 18, 1996 Phish‘s Fall Tour brought the foursome to Memphis, Tennessee for an appearance at Mid-South Coliseum. Their lone concert held at the now shuttered arena was highlighted by a rendition of “Simple” in the second set that still stands out two decades after it was performed.

The second set that evening began with “2001” and concluded with trumpeter Gary “El Buho” Gazaway (who had joined the band in Atlanta for their Halloween cover of Talking Heads Remain In Light weeks earlier) sitting-in for a number of songs. The memorable “Simple” started up following the “2001” and early into the improvisation guitarist Trey Anastasio established a looping melody that keyboardist Page McConnell responded to with countering piano lines. Drummer Jon Fishman toyed with tempo and led the quartet into a delicate, quietly blissful segment punctuated by bassist Mike Gordon adding rings of his fight bell.

The improv then leads to a portion described by Phish.net like this:

A rhythmic, staccato-like jam briefly emerges from the standard before shifting to a Trey-led, soaring “Hose”-filled finale. The jam finally settles and [segues into] “Swept Away.”

Listen to a soundboard recording of the 16+ minute rendition of “Simple” from Memphis below:

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