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

By Scott Bernstein Dec 30, 2019 8:24 am PST

Earlier this year, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio spoke with SiriusXM about the band’s connection with Madison Square Garden and exclaimed, “The relationship that we have with Madison Square Garden has exceeded the relationship we had with Nectar’s at this point in time.” That comment is mind-blowing considering how important Burlington venue Nectar’s was to the growth of Phish both musically and in developing their chemistry as a band. Phish has a level of comfort at the New York City arena that comes from playing 60+ shows over a 25-year period in one room. On Sunday, during the quartet’s second of four New Year’s Run concerts at the “World’s Greatest Arena,” Phish delivered a high energy affair featuring bust outs, expansive jams and a band firing on all cylinders more than 36 years after forming at the University of Vermont, clearly at ease in the high profile setting.

Sunday’s show had a setlist containing material from nearly all eras of the past 36 years. The four-piece opened with “Turtle In The Clouds,” the newest tune they’d play all night, which was first performed at last year’s Halloween show to kick off their Kasvot Växt set. Phish then dug in on “The Moma Dance” and while they didn’t paint outside the lines, band members added little flourishes to their respective parts that made the version far from standard, a trend that would continue throughout the night. For another example, see the “Kill Devil Falls” that followed. The jam section featured outstanding interplay between Anastasio and keyboardist Page McConnell with bassist Mike Gordon offering countermelodies and drummer Jon Fishman holding down a steady beat. Up next was Gordon’s (and Scott Murawski’s) “Yarmouth Road,” a tune the band has played just three other times since the start of 2017. Though the composed sections were far from tight, the band locked into a dark, dirty and delicious groove in the middle of the tune that was unlike any prior versions. Anastasio utilized an octave-divided, fuzzy tone that was reminiscent of the tone Jerry Garcia would often use towards the end of “Terrapin Station” at Grateful Dead shows.

Phish’s first set on Sunday rolled on with a “Wedge” highlighted by Page’s barrelhouse piano stylings. McConnell would then get a turn in the spotlight to lead the band through “Beauty Of A Broken Heart” for the first time in exactly three years. Page wrote the tune for inclusion on his self-titled debut studio album in 2007 and Phish debuted their version of “Beauty Of A Broken Heart” shortly after reforming in 2009 following a five-year breakup. Even with the three-year layoff, the band seemed to have rehearsed “Beauty Of A Broken Heart,” as they delivered a spot-on version that included a fierce solo from Trey. Next up was a straight forward “Fuego” best remembered for a pretty pattern the band locked in on for the final minute of the song they used to lay the groundwork for a cool transition into “My Friend, My Friend.” A short “Birds Of A Feather” featuring a powerful climax then led into a crowd-pleasing cover of the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” While it had been 234 shows since Phish last played the song off the Beatles’ White Album, there was little rust and Trey unleashed a powerful solo that left many jaws agape. Anastasio also let it rip during the set-closing “Walls Of The Cave” that ended with a mammoth peak.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps Captured by Themeboudin

Sunday’s second set gave fans little time for breathers or to use the bathroom, as the band unleashed an incredibly potent 83-minute, eight-song frame with no ballads and a slew of rockers. Up first was “Carini” featuring multiple key changes with Phish expertly moving from evil jam scapes to more blissful terrain and back again over the course of 13 minutes. Page put his synth to good use in layering wild sounds underneath Trey’s angular lead guitar work. Fish propelled the improv forward with a heavy beat as Mike kept pushing the jam in new directions. The egalitarian “Carini” gave way to “Back On The Train” and after tempo wars between Fishman and Anastasio hindered the start, the band patiently made their way through the song. While “BOTT” was uneventful, the “Bathtub Gin” that followed most certainly was not. Phish patiently built up the jam for a few minutes before breaking through the normal progression into Type II territory. Anastasio landed on an anthemic progression and his band mates quickly fell in line to connect on a powerful groove akin to “After Midnight.” The quartet patiently worked over the groove and took turns leading the improvisation with Page’s organ solo a particular highlight. Around the 13-minute mark, Fishman took his foot off the gas and the band settled in on an ambient section that was more like “What’s The Use?” than “Bathtub Gin.” Trey threw in the main “Bathtub Gin” melody over the spacey groove and Phish concluded the must-hear version of the jam vehicle.

Phish wasn’t done jamming as they embarked on covers of “Golden Age” and “Also Sprach Zarathrustra” (aka “2001”) that each featured impressive improvisation. “Golden Age” was highlighted by a spooky jam with a potent groove while “2001” was a great display of the chemistry which comes from four musicians performing together for over 36 years. Phish uncorked one of the best “2001”s of the era earlier this month at The Met in Philadelphia and while the version at MSG didn’t quite reach those lofty heights, the band connected on multiple breakdowns that gave fans time to yell “woo” during each pause. The quartet kept the energy in the room high with short-but-sweet renditions of rockers “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley” and “Chalk Dust Torture” before closing the set with a spectacular “Harry Hood.”

The past few years have been a great era for “Hood” and last night’s version continued that trend. One of the hallmarks of the last decade for Phish has been the band’s propensity to transition from dark minor-key jams to pretty major-key jams. The MSG “Hood” featured the reverse as the four-piece modulated from the song’s normal blissful segment to a dirty, bluesy minor-key. Phish jammed on a section that sounded straight out of “Timber (Jerry The Mule)” for over five minutes and once again landed on a start-and-stop progression that gave fans time to “woo” during the breaks in the action. After the last “Woo,” Phish transitioned back to the typical “D-A-G” progression found in all “Hood” jams and patiently built the improv to a soaring crescendo. Trey held one note for nearly two minutes in a scene reminiscent of November 16, 1996 when Anastasio held one note during a “Harry Hood” in Omaha for three full minutes. Page went wild on piano while Trey stuck to the same note and once Anastasio had his fill, he peaked the jam to the delight of the capacity crowd.

Harry Hood Captured by LazyLightning55


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For the encore, Phish started with their first “Show Of Life” since October 16, 2018. The ballad was followed by a particularly intense and compact “Run Like An Antelope” to close out the evening. Phish returns to Madison Square Garden for the penultimate show of 2019 on Monday night. A webcast is available via LivePhish.com and SiriusXM’s Phish Radio will also broadcast the show live from MSG. Tune in to Phish Radio at 4 p.m. ET on Monday for the first part of the channel’s Best Of Phish 2019 series.

The Skinny

The Setlist

The Venue

Madison Square Garden [See upcoming shows]

20789

61 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, 12/28/2019

The Music

11 songs / 8:17 pm to 9:40 pm (83 minutes)

10 songs / 10:13 pm to 11:54 pm (101 minutes)

21 songs / 17 originals / 4 covers

1999

26.14 [Gap chart]

N/A

[ALL]

While My Guitar Gently Weeps - LTP 10/23/2013 (234 Show Gap)

Harry Hood -- 18:53

Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley -- 5:12

Lawn Boy - 2, A Picture of Nectar - 1, Rift - 2, The Story of the Ghost - 2, Farmhouse - 1, Round Room - 1, Joy - 1, Fuego - 1, Misc. - 6, Covers - 4

The Rest

41 Degrees and Drizzling at show time

Koa 2 / Languedoc G2 #4

Phish From The Road Photos

Posters & Coin

JamBase Collections