Phish: Old Friends, New Jams, Rare Covers at SPAC
Photo by Dave Vann © Phish 2012 via Phish’s Facebook page
Phish returned to Saratoga Springs, NY’s Saratoga Performing Arts Center last night for the start of a three-show run. Despite being a popular venue for Phish and other national touring acts for many years, only a few acts have played three-night runs at the shed throughout its storied history. Keeping in line with Phish’s recent shows, the group’s first set contained several rarities while their second set focused on extended improvisation.
Partway through their first set, Phish busted into their first cover of Talking Heads’ classic “Psycho Killer” since August 14, 2009 during an extended “Tube.” Immediately after, the group moved into a comical Jon Fishman vignette (the rare Phish 3.0 show where the band has performed Fishman routines two gigs in a row). This time Fishman moved to the front of the stage for Phish’s first cover of Neil Diamond’s “Cracklin’ Rosie” since December 10, 1999. As he did in the ‘90s, Fishman smashed a pair of cymbals while he ran around the stage during the song. He also described Phish as a band who will play “all the hits” tonight and described the novelty cover as “a hit.” Continuing this tour’s running gag, Fishman tucked in his dress at the end of the number and made several “tuck” references throughout his routine.
After playing one of their legitimate hits, “Bouncing Around the Room,” the Vermont Quartet moved into this summer’s first cover of the bluegrass number “Paul and Silas.” Later in their set, Phish performed the two songs they first revived at the Big Cypress Festival in ’99 back-to-back: Taj Mahal’s “Corinna” and Traffic’s “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone.” Trey Anastasio also encouraged his younger fans looking for a major to “choose this career path.”
Phish’s second set featured several deep pockets of improvisation. Of particular note, the segue between “Carini” and “Sand” moved well into the ether. Likewise, the band offered experimental jams based around both “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley “ and “Ghost.” In another theatrical move, Phish invited out two of their longtime lyricists, Tom Marshall and Steve “The Dude of Life” Pollak, to sing a song they both helped write, “Run Like an Antelope” (the Dude also added some bonus air guitar moves to the number). Though both songwriters have appeared onstage with Phish multiple times, they have never performed with Phish at the same time. Last night’s show also marked the first time either Marshall or Pollak have sat in with Phish since the band reunited in 2009. The two songwriters are currently working on some new songs together.
Phish returns to SPAC this evening.
Here’s a look at last night’s setlist via Phish.net
Friday, July 6, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY
Set 1: Runaway Jim, Ocelot, Heavy Things, Back on the Train, Funky Bitch, Tube -> Psycho Killer -> Tube, Hold Your Head Up  > Cracklin’ Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Paul and Silas, Horn, Corinna, Light Up Or Leave Me Alone
Set 2: Chalk Dust Torture > Carini > Sand, Roses Are Free > Punch You In the Eye > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley -> Ghost > Suzy Greenberg > Run Like an Antelope 
E: Loving Cup
 Psycho Killer quotes and “tucking” references.
 Crosseyed and Painless tease; Tom Marshall and the Dude of Life on vocals; Lyrics changed to “Been you to have any spleef.”
Notes: Psycho Killer was played for the first time since August 14, 2009 (127 shows). HYHU contained Psycho Killer quotes and references to tucking. Prior to Cracklin’ Rosie, Fish was introduced as Friar Tuck. Cracklin’ Rosie was played for the first time since December 10, 1999 (279 shows). Antelope contained a Crosseyed and Painless tease. Tom Marshall and Steve Pollak (aka the “Dude of Life”) sang the lyrics to Antelope. The lyrics to Antelope were changed to “Been you to have any spleef.”