Trey Anastasio ‘The Beacon Jams’ Night 5: Ghosts Of The Forest – Setlist & Recap
Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio’s fifth show of his eight-night The Beacon Jams weekly livestream series featured a surprise set by Ghosts Of The Forest. The show Friday night at The Beacon Theatre in New York City was the first Ghosts Of The Forest performance since they ended a short tour on April 20, 2019 at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California.
Anastasio was joined onstage by Phish drummer Jon Fishman, Broadway performer Celisse and longtime Trey Anastasio Band members vocalist Jennifer Hartswick, bassist Tony Markellis and keyboardist Ray Paczkowski, who make up the core Ghost Of The Forest lineup. Vocalist Jo Lampert, who along with Hartswick and Henderson had performed with Phish during their Ziggy Stardust Halloween set in 2016 and was one of Trey’s clones on New Year’s Eve, was part of Friday’s show as well.
Markellis and Paczkowski had appeared at each of the previous Beacon Jams, but it was the first time the others had participated. “Ghosts of the Forest,” the title track to the album Anastasio released last year, which written and recorded in large part as a reaction to the death of his longtime friend Chris Cottrell, opened the November 6 show.
“Drift While You’re Sleeping” followed and soared to a powerful climax that drew smiles out of many of the musicians on stage. The Rescue Squad Strings then emerged to augment “Friend,” and Trey explained they had expanded, or been “spatchcocked,” as the typically four-person ensemble had doubled in size (Katie Kresek, Maxim Moston, Phil Payton and Mary Jo Stilp on violin, Monica Davis and Rachel Golub on viola and Eleanor Norton and Anja Wood on cello).
The guests left before Trey fired up “Sightless Escape,” one of several Ghost Of The Forest songs not on the studio album, which gave the guitarist a chance to lay into a fierce solo that was matched by Celisse’s powerful vocal spotlight. “Halfway Home” had a similar impactful interplay between Trey and the trio of backing vocalists.
Trey went to acoustic guitar for “If Again,” nimbly picking through the succinct instrumental. He was back on his his Blonde No. 2 Languedoc guitar and the spatchcocked Rescue Squad Strings back onstage for “In Long Lines.” With the strings sticking around, “There’s a Path Above” kept the setlist consistent with other GOTF shows that retained the same order of songs from night to night on the tour last spring.
Some banter about spatchcocking resulted in Trey explaining to Fish that it is a way to cook a chicken and also what the Phish song “Split Open And Melt” is about. “About to Run” was played without the strings or the backing singers, Trey, Fish, Tony and Ray left to blister through the heavy rocker. While starting up the subsequent “The Green Truth,” Trey joked with Fish that “About To Run” was in reference to the U.S. Presidential election. Celisse shined again during the swinging “The Green Truth” that was reminiscent of 1970s classic rock.
The multidimensional “Beneath a Sea of Stars Parts 1 & 2,” introduced and embellished by sampled sounds of nature, wove through its various sections, and saw the vocalists sing the intro, leave the stage, return with the strings and help steer the ending of the song. The strings were around for the transition into “Mint Siren Dream” before they again exited stage right. Things got funky during “Stumble Into Flight” via Trey’s wah-wah work and Ray’s wide world of keyboard sounds.
“Ruby Waves,” one of a few GOTF songs to crossover to Phish’s live repertoire and the only song in the GOTF suite played prior to 2019 (Trey Anastasio Band played it once in 2008), was another blast of high energy that left Anastasio winded by song’s end. With the Rescue Squad Stings back in place, the vocalists initiated the brief “Shadows Thrown by Fire” interlude. Fish then launched the dub-tinged “Wider,” whose lyrics contemplate the afterlife and groove was equally deep.
Trey stopped to call attention to the Divided Sky Fund, which has raised close to $400K during the Beacon Jams series to build a drug rehabilitation center in Vermont, which Anastasio said should be built by the end of 2021. Following appropriately was one of the centerpieces of the set and anchor of the third act, the contemplative “A Life Beyond the Dream.” Countering that was the bouncy funkiness of “In This Bubble.” Staying true to form of past GOTF performances, the set came to a full circle end via the joyous and resolute “Beneath a Sea of Stars Part 3 (Blue).”
Trey then returned to the Beacon stage along with Tony and the strings for an acoustic performance of “Brief Time.” After the rest of the musicians returned, some “true story” banter between Fish and Trey involving close-quarters nudity preceded the final song that was in store for the night. Trey back on electric and the strings finished for the evening, the set and show closed with “Pieces in the Machine.”
Setlist (via Phish.net)
Set One: Ghosts of the Forest > Drift While You’re Sleeping, Friend , Sightless Escape, Halfway Home > If Again, In Long Lines , There’s a Path Above , About to Run, The Green Truth, Beneath a Sea of Stars Parts 1 & 2  > Mint Siren Dream , Stumble Into Flight > Ruby Waves, Shadows Thrown By Fire , Wider, A Life Beyond The Dream , In This Bubble > Beneath a Sea of Stars Part 3 (blue)
Encore: Brief Time , Pieces in the Machine
 With The Rescue Squad Strings.
This performance was part of The Beacon Jams series and featured the Ghosts of the Forest setlist from the band’s 2019 tour played in its entirety. Friend, In Long Lines, There’s a Path Above, Beneath a Sea of Stars Parts 1 & 2, Mint Siren Dream, Shadows Thrown By Fire, A Life Beyond The Dream, and Brief Time featured The Rescue Squad Strings (Katie Kresek, Maxim Moston, Phil Payton, and Mary Jo Stilp on violin, Monica Davis and Rachel Golub on viola, and Eleanor Norton and Anja Wood on cello). Trey teased No Men In No Man’s Land in Sightless Escape. Pigtail was quoted before Stumble Into Flight.