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Published: 2009/12/29

Phish: Welcome to Miami

Phish kicked off its four-show New Year’s Eve run at Miami’s American Airlines Arena last night. Although the arena initially was noticeably less filled than many of the rooms on the band’s recent fall tour—including one entirely dark section, and a few other bald spots throughout the venue—the room filled in by the time the group took the stage.

The group opened with a pairing of road tested favorites (“Sample in a Jar,” “NICU”), and the band’s first versions of Clifton Chenier’s “My Soul” and the breezy The Story of the Ghost jam “Roggae” since October 7, 2000 and April 15, 2004, respectively. The latter song featured an extended, groove-based pocket of improvisation that brought the band into the ether for the first of several times throughout the night. The song’s bass-heavy grooves fed nicely into “Undermind,” another song driven by the band’s sharp rhythmic movements. After standalone versions of “Bouncing Around the Room” and “Poor Heart,” the group stretched out again on an extended, elegant “Stash” that spiraled past the 15-minute mark. Phish’s first set also included a version of “I Didn’t Know” with a lengthy vacuum solo—which Trey Anastasio described as the last vacuum solo of the decade—and tight takes on Page McConnell’s “Beauty of a Broken Heart” and “Possum.”

The Vermont Quartet’s second set placed a little more emphasis on improvisation, spotlighting Mike Gordon’s pronounced bass in particular. The set opened with a version of Mike Groove’s that for the first time included the Joy jam-vehicle “Light.” The song matured greatly throughout Phish’s fall tour and last night’s “Light” settled in on a melodic jam that smoothly segued into “I am Hydrogen.” Next, the band ran through the two new songs Anastasio and Gordon debuted at Rothbury in 2008—“Alaska” and “Backwards Down the Number Line”—and a fun “Makisupa Policeman” that boasted several vocal references to Gordon (since the band’s reunion Anastasio’s “Makisupa” key words have largely avoided the song’s trademark drug references). This particular version of “Makisupa Policeman” was longer than usual and swirled in several different direction before morphing into “Harry Hood,” back into the “Makisupa” theme and, finally, into “Hood.” High energy versions of “Contact,” “Character Zero” and the lone encore of “First Tube” closed out the night.

Phish will return to the American Airlines Arena this evening.

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