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Published: 2009/06/01

Phish’s Fenway ‘Destiny’

Last night in Boston’s Kenmore Square, Phish delivered its debut performance at Fenway Park, just a few miles from the Paradise Rock Club where the group played one of its most important early gigs outside of Vermont, more than 20 years earlier. After a brief series of dos and don’ts from Boston Red Sox public address announcer Carl Beane (an exhortation not to smoke elicited some boos and a comment regarding balls in play, yielded some laughs), Beane directed everyone to the pitcher’s mound where ‘JEMP Recording Artists…Phish’ delivered the ‘National Anthem.’ All four members of the band emerged in Red Sox jerseys for their a cappella take on the song, with Jon Fishman wearing a Ted Williams throwback #9 (with a possible Beatles’ White Album nod), Mike Gordon in Carl Yastrzemski’s #8, Page wearing MVP Dustin Pedroia’s #15 and Trey Anastasio donning Josh Beckett’s #19.
The quartet then stepped off the mound and moments later reemerged on stage (without the jerseys) to kick off set one with ‘Sample In A Jar.’ The band members seemed to be in fine spirits and far less tentative than at their Hampton reunion gigs. Both Fishman and Anastasio appeared more aggressive and confident, as evidenced by a first set version of ‘Down With Disease.’ Another early highlight was the band’s third take on ‘Destiny Unbound’ in 19 years, and the first since 2/28/03 at Nassau Coliseum (unlike the Nassau version, Anastasio left much of the solo room to Gordon). The group also debuted a new song in the third slot, the upbeat ‘Ocelot.’ This tune, like the two other new compositions in the second set, the mellow ‘Light’ and ‘Time Turns Elastic,’ (which Trey identified quite accurately but with some measure of mirth as the group’s ‘latest single’), saw some of the most animated playing from Anastasio, as the band as a whole really seemed to dig in on the new material, with ‘Ocelot’ and ‘Time Turns Elastic’ particularly well-received.
Starting with a 13 1/2 minute run through ‘Tweezer,’ the second set saw Phish open things up a bit. Both ‘Bathtub Gin’ and ‘David Bowie’ contained some intense moments, if not altogether breaking into new realms. The version of ‘You Enjoy Myself’ that closed out the set, clocked in at over 22 minutes with a particularly energetic vocal jam. The second set also saw the first version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Curtis Loew’ since 8/2/93 with McConnell’s vocals in fine form. Following ‘YEM,’ the evening ended with a triple encore, as ‘Cavern’ yielded ‘Good Times Bad Times’ and ‘Tweezer Reprise.’
All in all, the show elicited optimism for what is to follow, with the next show slated for Jones Beach on Tuesday.

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