Not even two weeks after it started, the current leg of Phish Summer Tour 2011 came to a close tonight at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
[Photo by Joel Berk]
Phish came out of the gates strong with the first Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird opener since November 3, 1989 (1,249 shows). While the Super Ball IX Forbin’s/Mockingbird contained a narration for the first time since the hiatus, tonight’s version did not. Next, Gumbo saw its first action since Merriweather back in June, while a typically fierce Possum was the fifth of this brief nine-show run. The group was clearly focused on reaching deep into their bag of tricks and in the middle of the set they came out with the Mike Gordon-penned Weigh, a song they’ve only played five times over the past 13 years.
There’s a special connection between the UIC Pavilion and Divided Sky. In 2004, guitarist Trey Anastasio told Charlie Rose that one of the most special moments of his Phish Experience happened during the Divided Sky pause on June 18, 1994 – a feeling perhaps re-created during this evening’s take on the classic tune. Alaska broke up the old school vibe before Bathtub was played on the 14th anniversary of the legendary Went Gin. Though they stuck “in the box” for this Gin, Trey brutalized his Languedoc throughout a hard-rocking, high-energy solo. The fretboard fireworks continued through Maze, beyond Cavern and into a perfectly placed First Tube set closer that fed off the energy provided by the frenzied crowd.
READ ON for a recap of the rest of the show along with tonight’s setlist and The Skinny…
[Photo by Joel Berk]
Night two of the UIC run started with a few of Phish’s more silly and short rarities – Dinner and a Movie and Ha Ha Ha. A scorching Chalk Dust Torture gave the audience their first taste of tension and release during Trey Anastasio’s solo. A pair of songs off Round Room – Mexican Cousin and Walls of the Cave – came next and was followed by the old school pairing of Runaway Jim and Foam. I Didn’t Know saw its first action of 2011 as Phish continued to dig deeper into their repertoire. Another well-played Ocelot, the fifth Ginseng Sullivan since the hiatus and a somewhat shaky Wedge led into a Limb By Limb that deliciously moved away from the tune’s main structure. To close the first set, Phish covered The Rolling Stones’ Let It Loose for the first time since they covered Exile On Main Street at Festival 8.
While the opening stanza was light on improvisation, a 20-minute Down With Disease that kicked off set two set a different tone. Disease quickly veered off its standard track, as the band explored a number of interesting spaces, eventually settling into a lengthy transition jam that seemed to zig towards a number of different songs before finally zagging into Twist. Put this Disease at the top of your “must download” list. The group toyed with the beginning of Twist, both in tempo and vocally, during the choruses. Backwards Down The Number Line continues to chase Possum as most played song of 3.0 and after getting the call mid-second set tonight is only two versions behind. A straight-forward Theme led into a Golden Age that contained a spacy end segment that eventually led into a cover of A Day In The Life by The Beatles.
Most of Trey’s You Enjoy Myself solos have been short and to the point over the past few years. For this evening’s second set-closing YEM, Anastasio showed much more patience and built up the pace methodically leading up to a big finish. Sure a three-song encore doesn’t grab the attention last night’s five-song monster did, but the Slave To The Traffic Light that followed Heavy Things was a beaut, while Rocky Top gave the crowd one more chance to get their ya ya’s out. The UIC run and the current leg of Phish tour ends tomorrow. READ ON for tonight’s setlist and The Skinny…
Phish pulled into Chicago tonight for the first of three shows at the intimate UIC Pavilion that cap off this section of Summer Tour 2011. The group last played at the indoor venue back in 1998 for a memorable three-night stand on November 7 – 9.
The run’s first set got off to a high energy start with another sizzling version of Back On The Train. Guelah Papyrus and Scent of a Mule kept the old school vibe going and led into a fitting cover of ZZ Top’s Jesus Just Left Chicago. Wolfman’s Brother gave us our first jam and what a Wolfman’s it was. While it didn’t stray too far from the usual territory Wolfman’s explores, this take featured a call and response segment from Mike Gordon and Page McConnell, melodic riffing from Trey Anastasio and a funky backbeat provided by Jon Fishman. Seek out this Wolfman’s, you won’t be sorry.
A tender Anything But Me gave the crowd a cool down period and was the first ABM in two years. Next up was the Phish premiere of Babylon Baby, a staple of the Mike Gordon Band’s repertoire since its debut in March. A typically beautiful Reba led into a powerful Alumni Blues closer that from the looks of the tweets blew the roof of the place and included a rough attempt at Letter To Jimmy Page in the middle. In looking at the reports coming in from Chicago you see one mention of “energy” after another as there’s nothing like indoor shows where the fans surround the band.
READ ON for the recap of the rest of tonight’s show as well as the setlist and The Skinny…