, attached to 2016-12-28

Review by phishbulb

phishbulb The band came out firing on (nearly) all cylinders during their opening night of the annual NYE @ MSG. On paper, this setlist might not do much for you unless you're a Velvet Underground or Train Song enthusiast. It is a pleasant surprise to see Phish take a very standard set of songs and turn an early-run gem.

The lights went down, Phish emerged and they stepped to the (single) mic evincing their intent to open a cappella. I think many of us suspected that Phish would put a punctuation mark on their glorious Halloween tribute by rolling out Space Oddity one more time. Instead, Phish opened with the Star Spangled Banner; twenty years ago, Phish had opened their (non-NYE) MSG run with the same song. The set the followed demonstrated that Phish took their NYE-run preparation seriously. Surprisingly practiced sounding versions of rarities Lonesome Cowboy Bill, Train Song and Corinna gave the first set a spontaneous felling as though it was a throw-back to the great NYE-runs of yore. The bust-outs weren't really the story of the first set though as Phish played with a composure, empathy and leadership that is almost remarkable considering that this was the first show since October. Although there are likely no must-listen jams in the first frame, it was a very well played set including a mellow Caspian , typically great Roggae and tight versions of Free & Half Way To the Moon. When Trey wandered off the path in Stash, Mike picked him back up, asserting a more rhythmically-busy pattern, which Fish picked up; the ensuing jam peaked, hard. Just like that, Phish had turned a potential cast-off Stash into a first set highlight.

Set II is no slouch either as Phish turned in very nice versions of every single song. Wolfman's has a pleasant Wolfman-y peak and gets tight as a dolphin's you-know-what towards the end. Golden Age didn't break any new ground but got nice and strange before giving us the first true -> of the run; although it initially sounded as though Trey had started the progression of Suzy Greensburg, he moved his F down an octave and unleashed one of the great riff is the songbook. Chalkdust was fine and energetic but never ventured outside of the song's regular composition. Martian Monster was clearly going to be something special from the get-go as everyone started kicking around ideas and Page was unusually liberal with the samples from the foley record. When Trey started an upward progression that sounded remarkably similar to the build in Tweezprize, the crowd caught on and let the band know. It was a affirming, fun moment when Trey gave them what they wanted, singing "your tri-i-ip is short" to the melody of "won't you step into the freezer." Wingsuit and Possum, again not looking like anything special, gave a rock-solid back end to Set II.

Don't pass on this one.


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