Phish kicked off the second leg of their summer tour tonight at the iconic Gorge Amphitheatre in George, WA for the first of two shows. The quartet first performed at The Gorge in 1997 and has played a total of five two-night stands (’97, ’98, ’99, ’03 & ’09) leading up to this year. We’ll have a full review and photo set from Friday night’s show later this weekend, but in the meantime we’ve shared some facts, thoughts and images from the show.
The first set of the tour was heavy on the songs with 12 tunes performed in total and somewhat light on improv with Bathtub Gin, David Bowie and surprisingly Roggae standing out. Roggae was described by YEMblogger/HT staffer Andy Kahn as “the best Roggae ever” featuring a “minimal/blues/funk jam.” Phish stuck to heavy rotation favorites for the most part with Walk Away, a song they’ve already played this year, being the biggest bustout of the set with a 21-song gap since last played. According to Kahn it didn’t take long for the group to warm up having noted “no rust” and “patient jam(s)” in both Bathtub and Bowie. He felt guitarist Trey Anastasio was in fine form, “cocky in the best possible way.”
For the second set, Phish came out of the gates with another song from Joy to open and this time it was Backwards Down The Number Line. A 20-minute take on Velvet Underground’s Rock and Roll displayed some of the lessons the band learned during the Super Ball IX Storage Jam as Page McConnell took to the theremin leading the group to settle on what Kahn described as a “Moma Dance-esque groove.” All in all this most exploratory part of tonight’s show to Kahn was “ambient, dark [and] groovy” and showed that “patient jamming continues.” Eventually the ensemble landed in a jam space that was equal parts spacey, funky with disco overtones out of which Meatstick commenced.
This wasn’t a typical Meatstick as it was extended and showcased bassist Mike Gordon. Page returned to the clav, Mike kicked in his Akai Deep Impact bass synth and soon Phish completed a “great segue” into Boogie On Reggae Woman. The closing stanza had so much potential as Phish toyed and extended Boogie On. Rock and Roll -> Meatstick -> Boogie On Reggae Woman was clearly the biggest take-away sequence from the show and should be the first listen for fans who download/stream recordings of the tour opener. Two ballads followed (Farmhouse and Show of Life) before the group ended the set with two high-energy crowd pleasers (Julius and Character Zero). Phish went with a Stones cover in the encore slot – the sixth Loving Cup of 2011. Leg two of Summer Tour 2011 continues tomorrow night at The Gorge.
READ ON for the setlist, The Skinny and much more…