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Published: 2009/08/17

Phish Close Summer Tour with ‘Harpua,’ Colonel Forbin’s Ascent >Fly Famous Mockingbird, Icculus and Other Rarities

Phish closed its first summer tour in five years this past weekend with three shows along the East Coast. Throughout the mini-run, the group reached into the back corners of its extensive catalogue, pulling out some of the rarest material in its repertoire. The group also showed off its new, focused style of jamming, especially during its exploratory second sets.

The run kicked off Friday with Phishs first performance at Hartford, CTs Comcast Theatre since 2000. The show, which was also the bands first Connecticut performance in over nine years, was dotted with references to Trey Anastasios fabled Gamehendge saga like Punch You in the Eye, AC/DC Bag, Wilson and a complex, narration-free version of Colonel Forbin’s Ascent >Fly Famous Mockingbird (the latter songs had not been played since Phishs Las Vegas run in September, 2000). After a lengthy Stash, Jon Fishman took center stage for an extended vacuum solo during I Didn’t Know, where Anastasio described the drummer as a recent Julliard graduate.
The band opened up second set, delivering lengthy versions of Down With Disease, Piper and Ghost. The latter song eventually slowed into an ambient, minimalist jam that first morphed into Talking Heads Psycho Killer (the groups first since 1997) and later the strange narrative Catapult. Anastasio remarked at how much he loved the strange music and he and Fishman both danced for the audience. The song then gradually evolved into the Gamehendge story-song Icculus (a number Phish hasnt played since its Camp Oswego festival in 1999). This version of the story found Anastasio waxing poetic on technology, and the guitarist jokingly scolded the audience for their overuse of technology.
Phish moved south from Hartford to play its only Mid-Atlantic Region show this tour at Columbia, MDs Merriweather Post Pavilion. The Vermont Quartet opened its set with a pairing of the first version of the Undermind ditty Crowd Control since reuniting and the new rock-song Kill Devil Falls. The group then busted out the first The Sloth since 2003, offered Page McConnells solo track Beauty Of A Broken Heart and revived Axilla I for the first time since reuniting. To the surprise of many, after Mike Gordons Foam, Phish treated fans to the second version of the multi-part epic Esther since reuniting (only the bands fourth version of the Junta tune since 1996).
Soon after, the band focused on Fishman for his rare jam Ha Ha Ha and the debut of his new, short ditty Party Timethe title track off the bonus album that the band plans to include in the Joy box set. The set later came to a close with Time Turns Elastic, which Anastasio recently performed near Columbia, MD with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The groups second set was notable for a experimental 46 Days and a seldom played cover of the Velvet Undergrounds Oh! Sweet Nuthin’.

Phish then brought things to a close at Saratoga Springs, NYs Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Anastasio spent a year living in the quaint Upstate New York town after his 2006 arrest and treated the crowd to a number of coveted songs. As if to make sure they played their entire canon, the band revived both Llama and Anything But Me for the first time since reuniting early on and offered the first Cars Trucks Buses of the summer tour. Though first set takes on David Bowie and Run Like An Antelope were early highlights, the night clearly belonged to the bands second set. The segment opened with an energetic Backwards Down the Number Line and really took off with a run from Halley’s Comet into the Velvet Undergrounds Rock & Roll. Phish then treated fans to the holy grail of bust outsHarpua. This version of the narrative served as tour closing credits of sorts, as Anastasio thanked the crowd and his crew for a great summer tour. He also thanked the city of Saratoga Springs and offered a long narration that morphed into a Fishman vacuum vignette based around Katy Perrys I Kissed A Girl. The movement eventually returned to the Hold Your Head Up theme and, finally, Harpua, before Phish closed its set with You Enjoy Myself.
The group returned for a three-song encore consisting of the Grind, the debut of I Been Around and AC/DCs Highway To Hell. As previously reported, I Been Around is a short, Page McConnell-led blues ditty off the forthcoming Joy. Until last night, it was the only Joy track the band had not played live.

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