Review: Phish @ Madison Square Garden, New York, NY 12/28/11

Phish at Madison Square Garden

Last night, Phish kicked off their Holiday Run at the remodeled Madison Square Garden with an interesting show that featured some great jamming, giving fans a taste of what’s to come. As the lights went out and the band took the stage, the energy inside MSG jumped ten fold.  Trey started playing a muted chord that sounded similar to “Scents and Subtle Sounds,” but settled into the first ever show opening “Free.”  After a fun “Glide,” Trey took “Possum” by it’s tail and absolutely shredded it to pieces with some very creative playing.

It only took Phish four songs into this run to get their jamming legs under them with a very memorable “Cities.” Mike Gordon took control of jam early and led the band through some wonderful improv, which also included Page adding a dash of funk with some great clav work. Unfortunately, Trey pulled the ripcord on this jam far too soon. I must have a knack for catching “The Ballad of Curtis Loew,” but I’m not complaining one bit. The song has been played seven times in 3.0 and I have caught four of them.

After a standard “Stash,” a quick funked out “Contact,” “Sample in a Jar” took the energy back up a few notches with a crowd sing along. While I am not a big fan of “Kill Devil Falls,” I enjoyed last nights “slightly extended” version. If you are a fan of this tune, check out the version from Bethel Woods this summer. The first set ended with a 12 minute “Bathtub Gin” that featured a nice jam and got the fans warmed up for the second set.

During the set break, I chatted it up with some friends from Chicago before heading back to section 118 for the second set. I’m not sure that I like the reconfiguration in the lower level, but security seemed pretty lax as people were dancing up and down our aisle. The second set really got going with “Carini.” As the band commenced the very chill jam, Fishman continued with some “Carini had a lumpy head” lines. “Tweezer” definitely had it’s moments, but I thought the version was pretty standard.

“Rock and Roll” was the highlight of the second set for me. The band never let off the pedal as they delivered the goods in true rock and roll fashion. After a nifty transition into “NICU,” “Bouncing Around the Room” took the energy out of the crowd briefly. Oddly enough, the second set ended the exact same way as last years second set in Worcester a year ago to the day. “Harry Hood > Bug” once again proved to be a great combo. This years “Hood” featured some Pinko style jamming, but not to the same level as last years Plinko fest.

The “Tube” encore was the first since the infamous “GameHoist” show on June 26, 1994. The song showed great promise, but was ultimately cut short due to it’s slot in the encore. As much as I love me some “Rocky Top,” I really wish they would have stretched “Tube” out a bit longer. “Tweezer Reprise” absolutely blew the roof off of MSG with the help of some nuclear bass bombs from Cactus. The song put an exclamation point on the first night of the run and set the bar pretty high for the three remaining shows.

Phish
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Madison Square Garden
New York, NY

Set I: Free, Glide > Possum, Cities, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Stash, Contact > Sample in a Jar, Kill Devil Falls > Bathtub Gin
Set II: Birds of a Feather, Carini > Tweezer > My Friend, My Friend > Rock and Roll > NICU, Bouncing Around the Room, Harry Hood > Bug
Encore: Tube > Rocky Top > Tweezer Reprise

[Setlist via Phish.net]

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