Phish Begins 2019 New Year’s Run: Setlist, Recap & The Skinny

By Andy Kahn Dec 28, 2019 9:27 pm PST

Phish began their four-show 2019 New Year’s Run on Saturday night with a concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Just days shy of the 25th anniversary of Phish’s first show at MSG — where a banner honoring the band now hangs from the rafters, the group has now held over 60 concerts and the arena is seemingly just as much a home venue for them as it is for the hometown Knicks and Rangers.

Opening with the debut of the new original “Evening Song,” the addition to the band’s repertoire sung by guitarist Trey Anastasio was also the 258th different song played by Phish in 2019 — a new record for a calendar year. It also marked the second straight show-opening debut following the fall tour finale in Charleston earlier in the month. “No Men In No Man’s Land” came in the second slot, charging ahead with an early jolt of energy that set a tone for the entire night. Bassist Mike Gordon then triggered the low-end swampiness that kicks off “Down With Disease.” The unexpectedly placed mid-first set “DWD” opened up some for Trey to stretch out for a few minutes during the lively and concise jam. Next, Gordon led the Phish debut of “20-20 Vision,” a country-tinged cover written by Joe Allison and Milton Estes recorded first by Gene Autry.

“Ghost” got the call after and shed the laid-back funk that often accompanies the jam vehicle in favor of more upbeat and expressive improvisation steered by drummer Jon Fishman’s propelling foundation and Trey’s blistering playing. Keyboardist Page McConnell‘s chunky and funky Clavinet blended with Trey’s wah-wah riffing inside the fun “Gumbo” that followed. A tightly delivered “Rift” was met with an enthusiastic response from the audience. A pretty funky “Weigh,” the first of 2019, was also well-received. Following with another rarity, “Dog Faced Boy” — the first since 2016 (114 show gap) — brought a hush over MSG while Trey led the tender ballad.

The band got back rocking with “Twenty Years Later” and continued the energetic and funky feel of the set with a tight “Tube.” “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.” (which did not feature Mike and Trey harnessed above the audience like they were the last time the Kasvot Vaxt song was played at MSG to ring in 2019) brought a proper fiery end to the opening set of this year’s run.

Phish came back from setbreak and opened the second half with “Everything’s Right.” A fierce, rocking jam quickly developed that morphed into a spacey, swirlingly atmospheric groove. Mike introduced a synthy bassline that matched the synthed-out sounds coming from Page while Fish locked into a steadying pattern. The foursome then found their way into “Beneath A Sea Of Stars Part 1,” which was the fourth appearance in a Phish setlist for the Ghosts Of The Forest song. “Set Your Soul Free” got cooking behind Page’s inspired organ playing and he followed Trey’s lead as they spent awhile toying with an “On Broadway” jam.

The jam segued into “Gotta Jibboo” and Trey sent looping sirens around MSG while settling into the ensuing improv. Elements of “Set Your Soul Free” crept into the “Jibboo” jam which progressed for several minutes before giving way to “Free.” Fish and Mike’s breakdown in “Free” led to a punchy return to the song’s climactic ending. Soon after, Trey was firing up “Piper” for a sail around the arena that kept the energy in the room rising as the thrust toward a soaring peak. Mike then stepped up to led the band’s first cover of The Who’s “Drowned” since August 2018.

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The Quadrophina classic that’s gone scarce of late gave way to a jam that turned sinister while Page employed a wild variety of orbiting synth sounds. The otherworldly sequence was brought back to earth by Fish starting a tease of “Guy Forget,” a song played once in 2000 and just one other time in 2011. Fish then sang his short ditty “Ass Handed” which led to an “Ass Handed Reprise,” which was essentially “Chalk Dust Torture Reprise” but sung with the “Ass Handed” lyrics — and a few “Chalkdust” and “Guy Forget” lines thrown in and the usual band intros as well. The silliness was trailed by a visibly amused Anastasio kicking into “Character Zero” where it found its common calling as rocking set closer.

The encore consisted of the Ghosts Of The Forest confessional “A Life Beyond The Dream” and the bluegrass classic “Rocky Top,” the latter making its first setlist of the year. Phish’s New Year’s Run 2019 continues on Sunday at MSG. A live stream is available via LivePhish.com

The Skinny

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The Setlist

The Venue

Madison Square Garden [See upcoming shows]

20789

60 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, 07/29/2017, 07/30/2017, 08/01/2017, 08/02/2017, 08/04/2017, 08/05/2017, 08/06/2017, 12/28/2017, 12/29/2017, 12/30/2017, 12/31/2017, 12/28/2018, 12/29/2018, 12/30/2018, 12/31/2018

The Music

12 songs / 8:13 pm to 9:35 pm (82 minutes)

12 songs / 10:11 pm to 11:50 pm (99 minutes)

24 songs / 21 originals / 3 covers

2003

16.23 [Gap chart]

Evening Song, 20-20 Vision (Gene Autry)

ALL

Dog Faced Boy - LTP 10/26/2016 (114 Show Gap)

Everything's Right -- 13:57

Ass Handed -- 0:54

Rift - 2, Hoist - 2, Billy Breathes - 2, The Story of the Ghost - 1, Farmhouse - 2, Joy - 1, Big Boat - 1, Misc. - 10, Covers - 2

The Rest

46°F and Clear at Showtime

Koa 2 / Languedoc G2 #4

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