Phish Tour 2022: The Mann Night 1 – Recap, Setlist & The Skinny

The first set started with a space theme and the second set was a classic "Tweezerfest."

By Aaron Stein Jul 20, 2022 6:20 am PDT

Phish tour continued on Tuesday with a concert at The Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. It was a hot one! I think maybe it was 90°F when the lights went down for the first of two nights of Phish at The Mann and the person behind me kind of summed it up when she said “I’m schvitzing a little bit.”

The quartet did their best to cool things off and were colder than the depths of outer space, which was the apparent theme of the beginning of the set. Starting with an a cappella cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” last performed in 2017, the band moved to the galactic boogie of “Martian Monster,” guitarist Trey Anastasio bouncing one tidy riff into the next, Phish feeling like maybe they were indeed about to blast off, followed by “Halley’s Comet” which, to put it kindly, stumbled a bit.

The post verse section of Halley’s was coaxed by red lights from Chris Kuroda, short bursts of Anastasio guitar rocket-fueled by Jon Fishman’s drums. If you enjoy hearing a drummer lead an improvisational band from one passage to the next, current-day Phish may just be the band for you. Bassist Mike Gordon followed a dragged pace to push the jam into weightlessness, Page McConnell’s antigravity piano, then Rhodes, creating a nice ambient space. The playing flipped between meander and purpose before finding another rough stumble into “Stash,” which ended the space-themed stretch at three songs with several good options still on the table, making you wonder if it was a deliberate choice or just happy circumstance.

The composed sections of “Stash” were whatever the opposite of perfect was, but the ensuing jam poked and prodded at potentially interesting spaces, a Middle-Eastern-ish scaled solo from Trey, Mike adding some low-end adhesive, and Fish trying his best to push the pace to frenzied. Something to build on, perhaps.

The remainder of the set felt like a step back to safer sonic space, a mid-set “The Moma Dance” followed by “Gotta Jibboo” getting the sweaty crowd moving on simple-but-effective grooves. On the latter, Trey wisely hung back, letting Page’s Rhodes go simpatico with Mike and Fish before hopping on with a shimmering bright, easy-to-dig solo. “Shade” and “The Old Home Place” felt thematically far from the outer space of the beginning of the night, but the closing “Walls of the Cave” provided the 90° fire the set had been lacking up to that point.

Read on after The Skinny for the rest of the recap and more.

The Skinny

The Setlist

The Venue

TD Pavilion at the Mann [See upcoming shows]

14,000

11 shows
7/18/1992, 7/16/1993, 7/01/1994, 6/24/1995, 6/25/1995, 7/08/2014, 7/09/2014, 8/11/2015, 8/12/2015, 6/28/2016, 6/29/2016

The Music

9 songs / 8:06 pm to 9:20 pm (74 minutes)

11 songs / 9:53 pm to 11:33 pm (100 minutes)

20 songs
15 originals / 5 covers

2001

18.2 [Gap chart]

None

Space Oddity, More, Cities, Passing Through

Space Oddity 07/28/2017 (154 Show Gap)

Halley’s Comet 17:03

Old Home Place 3:27

A Picture of Nectar - 3, Billy Breathes - 1, The Story of the Ghost - 1, Farmhouse - 2, Round Room - 1, Big Boat - 1, Chilling Thrilling Sounds - 1, Kasvot Växt - 1, Sigma Oasis - 2, Misc. - 2, Covers - 5

The Rest

90° and Sunny at Showtime

Koa 1

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It turns out the first set’s early promise of “you’re about to blast off” would be made good on for those willing to wait until the second round. After a get-back-to-your-seat buffer of “More,” Phish kicked into the first “Tweezer” of the summer leg of the tour. If the second set was a faraway galaxy viewed through a powerful telescope, “Tweezer” would be the bright shining mass at its core, the center of gravity around which the rest of the heavenly bodies orbited. There are multiple sets in Phish lore that have “Tweezer” as its astral plane, and, in my snap-judgment opinion, the “Mann1 Tweezefest,” is in the conversation with the best of ‘em.

It was apparent early on in this one that there was something about-to-blast-off about it, a sluggish pace feeling like a slow swelter on this hot day. The onset of the improvisation was masterful, the kind of jam that fans salivate over. The kind of jam where each combination and permutation of the four players yielded something interesting, whether it was individual exploration of each of them, or the interplay of two, three, or the entire band. Overlaps of jungle jazz, sweatbox disco, and in-the-clouds bliss jam got spontaneous cheers out of a crowd settling in for a long journey.

The set combined terrific improv with some sugary-sweet segues, the first of which came in the form of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it switcheroo into “Cities” that surely elicited many a well-deserved “wow!” out of The Mann audience and those listening along at home. The “Cities” felt like a 25-year throwback to the summer of 1997, Gordon particularly cowfunkified with his bass playing. The deliberate pace was a perfect fit for the night and maybe I was the only one that found the “freezer” of “Tweezer” and the “dry ice factory” of “Cities” as attempts to cool things off in the amphitheater even as the music was heating up (and was Trey’s grin at “whole lotta bad points” an acknowledgment of some of the first set flubs or am I just imagining?).

The I’ll-be-back-in-a-jiff return to “Tweezer” felt inevitable, but the continued old-school funk was a pleasant surprise, Mike not wanting to quit, even as Trey and Page went bright sunshine, McConnell channeling, if not outright cribbing, Chuck Leavell’s piano on The Allmans’ “Jessica” to great effect while Trey conjured new melodies out of thin air.

“Passing Through” emerged so effortlessly out of this section that the set was starting to feel like a singular preconceived suite rather than a spontaneous full-band flow. Another easy orbit around “Tweezer” was there for the taking, but Anastasio sideswiped it into a “rough-but-who-cares?” drop into “Izabella” the third classic rock cover of the night and a let’s-rage crowd pleaser, to say the least.

The section of “Tweezer” they finally got around to next (the third of the set thus far, for those keeping track) may have been the most interesting, Trey siphoning “Izabella” licks into what I call “Tweezabella,” before Page took over. His swamp of synthesizer evoked first “Smoke On The Water” and then a wild jam on The Meters’ “Cissy Strut” (“Tweezy Strut?”) that Fishman and Mike picked up on, taking the well-worn happy-funk classic and turning it into something dark and twisted.

It’s around this point at a Phish show where the second set might occasionally take a turn, where a misplaced ballad or similar might knock the starship out of its orbit. It was at this point in Tuesday night’s Phish show that the band went into interstellar overdrive. First, yet another “how-did-we-get-from-there-to-here?” segue into “Mercury,” which hit all its changes admirably, providing a little respite from the fiery while giving the crowd plenty to sink their teeth into.

Next, yet another smooth transition, this one into “Piper,” which found the band clicking at that next level we all seek every time we buy a ticket, the jam reaching that nuclear fusion found at the center of every star, even a you-know-they’re-feeling-it “Dave’s Energy Guide” tease tucked into a marvelous bit of improv. Then, the fourth and final brief reminder that this was a “Tweezer” set before the delayed return to the outer space theme in the form of a truly extraterrestrial “2001” that started with more of that 1997 boogie-down energy and then went full WTF!? in the best way possible.

Finally, “Character Zero” squeezed every last bit of sweat left in the audience out onto the floor and lawn of the Mann Center. They encored with “Drift While You’re Sleeping” and, of course, “Tweezer Reprise” and are well-positioned to close out their two shows at The Mann with plenty more heat Wednesday night. A side geekery note: has a setlist ever had so many Z’s in it before? Five “Tweezers,” an “Izabella,” a “Zarathustra,” and a “Zero.” A lot of zzz’s for a set that was anything but sleepy.

Phish plays The Mann again tonight (Wednesday, July 20). Livestreams are available via LivePhish.com.


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