On Friday night Phish kicked off the first leg of their summer tour with a hearty opening show that featured a number of expansive jams and laid the ground work for what should be an exciting run. The quartet returned to gorgeous Bethel Woods for the second of three performances at the venue near the site of 1969’s Woodstock Festival on Saturday.
[Photo via Liberty Independent]
Saturday’s show proved the power of the jams as the band continued to flex their improvisational muscles in Bethel. In the first set both Halley’s Comet and Bathtub Gin featured impressive improvisation, especially considering nearly every version of Halley’s since Hampton has been of the five-minute variety. Halley’s at Bethel surpassed the 12-minute mark to the delight of Phish fans, while Bathtub Gin contained elements of Manteca and some of the best group interplay seen from the run thanks in part of drummer Jon Fishman’s bombastic backbeat. Also of note was the rare stretching out of the post-first verse breakdown in Runaway Jim.
The second set started with a 15-minute-plus Down With Disease that devolved into a space jam before the band worked their way into Free. Backwards Down The Number Line could be a monster when Phish chooses to explore the space between the riff that forms the jam and the Bethel version showed why as each member of the group contributed to a tasty improvisation that alternated between light/airy playing and dark/evil-tinged themes. Night two wasn’t just about the jams, Phish was also having fun all night, which was most apparent during a Makisupa Policeman that found Trey, Page, Mike and Fish each taking a turn at laying down what the music would sound like at their respective houses in a cool segment that’s worth a listen. From there, the boys turned on a dime into Harry Hood land for a patient take on the tune that would be a standout version if it peaked harder. David Bowie gave Phish one last chance to jam and they took advantage with Trey in particular laying down some ripping riffs.
HT’s Brian Bavosa will be at all three tour-opening shows and will file a full report early next week. READ ON for tonight’s setlist and The Skinny…