Recap: Phish New Years Run 2018 Night 1
(Writer: Cody Lantz)
Phish returned to the stage Friday evening for their first performance of a sold-out four night run to ring in the new year at Madison Square Garden. One question on many fans’ minds heading into Friday night was if and how Phish was going to incorporate any of the new material from their Kasvot Växt Halloween performance.
Phish wasted no time answering this question as they opened with “We Are Come To Outlive Our Brains.” This was well received by fans and featured strong interplay between all four band members. After a brief pause, keyboardist Page McConnell signaled the intro to “Martian Monster” and a short but rocking trip through the Thrilling Chilling Sounds of a Haunted House track commenced. Next, “Axilla I” fired things up again and the Vermonters kept the high energy rolling with standard takes on the first set staples, “Free” and “The Wedge.” Phish then looked to a pairing of songs off of their The Story Of The Ghost album with “Meat” & “Ghost.” “Meat” brought bassist Mike Gordon to the spotlight and the funky track featured fun vocal and instrumental interplay between the band with its usual stop and start breakdowns. The following “Ghost” was typical of a first set performance but featured a dark and blissful jam. While this performance may not be as memorable as other recent first set “Ghosts”, this one should not be over looked either. As “Ghost” faded, guitarist Trey Anastasio transitioned the band into a quick romp through “Sparkle”, which had everyone in attendance “laugh and fall apart.” Phish then slowed things down by dusting off the rarity “If I Could” in the ballad slot for its second performance this year. It was a beautiful rendition of the Hoist album track. The quartet then picked things back up as drummer Jon Fishman started the intro to a fiery “Maze”, which featured outstanding solos from both Page and Trey. The band then closed out the first set of their NYE run with the Round Room rocker, “Walls Of The Cave.”
The second set kicked things off with the newer song “Set Your Soul Free” which was debuted by Phish earlier this Summer, and also the previous year with the Trey Anastasio Band. This 17 minute version showcased the band’s ability to play so well off of each other, creating musical ideas and textures in line with the 2018 style of improvisational jamming they displayed this past Summer and Fall. Up next came “Swept Away” > “Steep” for the first time since the band’s 2017 “Baker’s Dozen” residency at Madison Square Garden. After a pause and some cheering from the crowd, the quartet turned to their second Kasvot Växt song of the night in the form of “The Final Hurrah.” This again featured strong interplay between all four members, showing their eagerness and confidence to experiment with newer material. Phish then face- planted us back into rock with a climatic version of “Fuego.” Out of the embers and up next came “Shade” in the second set ballad slot. With nice solos from both Page and Trey, this performance was well received by the audience and featured a vocal outro. Phish picked the energy back up with scorching versions of “Bathtub Gin” & “Possum” to close out the second set. In the encore slot came the crowd pleasing pairing of “Bouncing Around The Room” and “Slave To The Traffic Light.”
And with that, night one is in the books. A solid show from start to finish with a few minor flubs, outstanding musical interplay, and the showcasing of newer material seems to be the start for a great weekend at Madison Square Garden. Phish returns to the stage Saturday night.
Set 1: We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains, Martian Monster, Axilla -> Free, The Wedge, Meat, Ghost ->Sparkle, If I Could, Maze, Walls of the Cave
Set 2: Set Your Soul Free -> Swept Away -> Steep, The Final Hurrah, Fuego -> Shade -> Bathtub Gin >Possum
Encore: Bouncing Around the Room, Slave to the Traffic Light