Phish Welcomes John Popper & Plays ‘M’ Set In St Louis On Fall Tour 1996
This year marks 25 years since Phish’s historic Fall Tour 1995. In recognition of that noteworthy tour and to make up for the lack of shows this fall, JamBase presents a daily retrospective highlighting a noteworthy moment from a Phish fall tour concert that took place on that date over the past 25 years (read a note on Fall 1997 here). The 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour series runs each day between the start of Phish Fall Tour 1995 on September 27 through that tour’s finale on December 17.
Phish’s Fall Tour 1996 brought the band to the Kiel Center in St. Louis for a concert on November 15. Blues Traveler frontman John Popper joined Phish during the second set, which was heavy on songs beginning with the letter “M” or containing a word in the title with the letter “M.”
More 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour on JamBase
Phish began the second set of their only show at the Kiel Center with “Makisupa Policeman” and Trey Anastasio waking up in the morning with “stink kind,” which wouldn’t be the last reference to cannabis heard from the guitarist that night.
Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon, drummer Jon Fishman and keyboardist Page McConnell, proceeded to fill out the set with Maze, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Split Open and Melt, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own > Mike’s Song, Sleeping Monkey.
After “Sleeping Monkey,” Anastasio addressed the audience, stating:
Thanks, everybody. I just want to say we had a great time playing here, and we’re gonna do about one more tune. And on behalf of myself, and Mike, and Moses over there, and Mr. McConnell over there, we want to thank you one more time for having us play music. And we also want to thank Mimi! And just say that tonight’s concert was brought to you by the letter “M” and the number 420.
“Moses” is a nickname for Fishman, while 420 is a number long associated with smoking marijuana. While Trey spoke, the band began to play a groove that turned into The Beatles’ ditty “Mean Mr. Mustard” from the Abbey Road Side-B medley. Near the end of Phish’s debut of The Beatles tune, as they sang the “such a dirty old man” lyrics, Popper emerged walking with a cane while hunched over and a cape over his back.
When Phish launched into “Weekapaug Groove” (it has an upside-down “M,” right?), Popper tossed away the cane and cape and grabbed his harmonica to augment the blistering version of the Phish original. Popper, who was a frequent guest of Phish beginning in 1989 but has not shared the stage since St. Louis, was back out for the encore at the Kiel Center, a cover of Son Seals’ “Funky Bitch.”
In 2011, when Phish began their Labor Day Weekend tradition of playing at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, they took the letter set one step further and played an entire show consisting of songs starting with the letter “S.”
Watch Popper come out for “Mean Mr. Mustard” and stick around for “Weekapaug”: