Phish Summer Tour 2019: Fenway Night 2 – Setlist, Recap & The Skinny

By Colin Young Jul 7, 2019 6:56 am PDT

After a lengthy delay caused by thunder, lightning and downpours, Phish closed out its two-night post-Independence Day series at Fenway Park in Boston on Saturday night with a one-set show that stretched nearly the length of a two-set show and gave the soaked crowd a chance to dance some of the raindrops off.

Saturday’s weather was classic July in New England — 90 degrees and muggy all day with plenty of sun, until a wave of strong thunderstorms barreled through late in the afternoon bringing torrential downpours and a break in the humidity. With dark clouds gathering over the Fenway area, the ballpark opened its doors earlier than usual and encouraged fans to get inside before the heavy stuff started.

As the circa 1912 Fenway Park concourses filled up with wet fans waiting to be allowed onto the field or into the lower grandstand, word came from the band that the show would go on but without a setbreak due to the weather delay and the venue’s curfew. (Phish archivist Kevin Shapiro tweeted Saturday that he could not recall the band ever before playing one set rather than two due to weather.) When fans were finally allowed to take their places, many were unsure what to expect from the non-traditional arrangement.

With rain showers still coming down, Trey Anastasio, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon and Page McConnell took the stage around 8:30 p.m. — 90 minutes later than Friday night — and the crowd erupted when Trey played the opening of “Carini.” Like an espresso shot, the solid run-through got everyone moving again after what had been a long wait. The energy in the crowd built even more when the song blended into the intro to “Possum” and Sudbury, Massachusetts native Mike Gordon stepped up to the plate for his first lead vocal of the night.

In the three-hole was “Set Your Soul Free,” the first real showcase of the rhythm section of the night. The song also gave the crowd a nod with the show’s first reference to the soaking rain. With Fishman and Mike holding things down, Page moved over to his organ for a bit while Trey played mostly rhythm guitar until reaching for a familiar lick and using it to launch his lead playing. Like a good number three hitter, “Set Your Soul Free” drove in the men “Carini” and “Possum” put on base and the good guys got on the scoreboard early.

Not seen since Raleigh last August, the proggy “Thread” came next. A big cheer went up from the grandstand behind home plate during the first verse when a glow stick thread that had been growing from the first balcony finally reached the fans below and then came crashing down. As the rain started to abate, “Wolfman’s Brother” gave the fearsome foursome an opportunity to lay down a groove and get the ballpark dancing again. Mike slapped his way through a funky section with Page on Clavinet and Trey mostly playing rhythm. When Page moved back to grand piano, Trey built his lead into a nice, satisfying peak.

The band treated the Fenway faithful next to the second “Reba” in a week. With one exception that seemed to elicit a chuckle from Fishman, the band made it through the composed section cleanly. Trey laid down a patient and tasteful solo over a jam section that all four band members helped to a triumphant climax.

No whistling after “Reba”; instead Phish went back to the gas pedal for a romp through “Back On The Train.” The Farmhouse tune featured another rain reference and a growly tone in Trey’s solo. Mike Gordon got his second local-boy-makes-good moment of the night with the semi-rarity “Mound,” the first overt setlist reference to baseball during the Fenway series.

The Boston crowd next got its first and only song from the Anastasio-Fishman Ghosts Of The Forest project in “About To Run.” Trey had said his idea for the album, in memory of friend Chris Cottrell, was that he was “just going to play a lot of guitar” and he kept true to that Saturday night with huge bends as he gave his fretboard a workout.

Even though this was a one-set affair, it might make sense to think of “Down With Disease” as kicking off the “second set” portion of the night. Mike might have had some technical problems right at the start, but it didn’t hold the group back. Trey worked up to some inspired playing a few minutes in and he led the jam until it eventually grew quieter. Mike thumped out the low end and the song took on an almost gooey and swampy feel.

With the Prudential Tower skyscraper peeking over the right field wall of Fenway Park, the opening riff of “Simple” rose out of “Disease’s” depths. Where many recent “Simples” have turned to buttery major key jams, Saturday night’s rendition took a more ominous turn and eventually returned to the gooey swamp feel of “Disease” for a brief stop.

The first new song of 3.0, “Backwards Down The Number Line,” followed up “Simple” and contained succinct lead runs from Trey. “Death Don’t Hurt Very Long” checked off the Kasvot Vaxt box for the night and saw Trey and Fishman link up for some whispery vocals after a minor miscue.

If “Simple” made an unexpected turn to the dark side, the “46 Days” that came next made a fairly atypical shift to the lighter side of things on Saturday night. The short version gave way to a gorgeous “What’s The Use?” that featured more patient playing from Trey and a longer-than-usual pause that got a rise out of the crowd.

“Mexican Cousin” came seemingly out of left field, followed then by “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” the first and only cover song played during the two nights at Fenway. A funky but straightforward run through the 2001 A Space Odyssey theme led to the usual triumphant peak that could have capped a unique night at the lyric little bandbox. Until Fishman kicked into “Split Open & Melt,” that is.

The Lawn Boy classic covered a lot of ground in relatively little time, getting dark and nasty late in the ballgame. The dissonance grew with Page on a synthesizer and Trey trilling with lots of sustain in his tone. Mike and Fishman — who epitomize the baseball idiom “strong up the middle” — powered the whole thing with great ferocity until they eventually brought it back to the “Melt” structure and ending. A fun sprint through “Suzy Greenberg,” featuring a strong piano solo from Page, closed out the show’s sole set.

Trey thanked the soggy crowd and noted what an honor it was to be playing the home of the reigning World Series champion Boston Red Sox before the band left the stage. Having already blown through the supposed 10:30 p.m. Fenway curfew half an hour prior, the band sent folks home with an encore combo of “Rise/Come Together” and “Wilson.” Since it wouldn’t be a 2019 Phish show without a Kasvot Vaxt sample, Page threw several “faceplant into rock” samples into the ending of “Wilson.”

Phish takes Sunday and Monday off before returning to action Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut, the third and final New England stop of the 2019 summer tour. The Mohegan shows will also be Phish’s first return to an indoor setup since the tour-opening shows in St. Louis last month. Unlike Saturday night, no need to pack a poncho.

The Skinny

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The Setlist

The Venue

Fenway Park [See upcoming shows]

37731

2 shows — 05/31/2009, 07/05/2019

The Music

21 songs / 8:30 pm to 11:11 pm (161 minutes)

21 songs / 20 originals / 1 cover

2000

10.71 [Gap chart]

N/A

Mound, Mexican Cousin, Thread

Thread - LTP 08/10/2018 (44 Show Gap)

Down With Disease -- 14:10

Mexican Cousin -- 2:24

Lawn Boy - 2, Rift - 1, Hoist - 2, Farmhouse - 1, Round Room - 2, Joy - 1, Covers - 1, Misc. - 11

The Rest

89° and Rainy at showtime

KOA 1

Capacity: 37,731

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