Madison Square Garden NY, NY

December 28 2016-  First Night of a Four Night Run

By Jeffrey Winick

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So, I’m excited to finally see Phish in 2016, for the first time this year.  I didn’t make it to any summer shows;  then Phish had a fall tour focused completely on the South which wasn’t geographically convenient.  I know they have supplemented their multi-million dollar lighting system this year with new LED screens (yes there’s a geeky You Tube video showing all it can do during a sound check) and I’m more than ready to see it sparkle live.

Band comes out, and immediately heads to side of the stage in front of the piano.  That old 4-way microphone stand is waiting from them to sing acapella.  Could they be opening the show with “Space Oddity” an acapella tribute to the late great David Bowie, which they premiered this summer at Wrigley Field?

From the video channel of Hot FnTuna

Nope, they are singing the Star Spangled Banner. (I put my hand over my heart now, I didn’t when I was younger)  However……..Phish does not sing the Star Spangled Banner at NYE runs.  They sing it in ballparks, and they sing it on or around the Fourth of July.  Why are they signing it now?  Most everyone around me is convinced it’s a political statement, that regardless of our new President, we are still the land of the “FREE” and live in the home of the “BRAVE”.  So, in my mind, I’ve decided Freedom is now the theme of the night.  Funny how you can feel either Free or Oppressed, depending on your political persuasion and who is holding the highest office in the land.

I feel like I can read into all the songs now with a deeper political meaning.

Stealing time from the Faulty Plan is up next, emphasis on Faulty Plan.

Lonesome Cowboy Bill, emphasis on Bill  (First time played in 177 shows).

Free, which the crowd absolutely explodes to, emphasis on “Being Free”.

OK, I’ll stop here, because the references get a little obscure if there are any, until the end of the show.

Additional highlights in the first set include:  Funky Bitch, Corinna which doesn’t come out very often, (First time in 170 shows)  and a peppy close to the first set with Stash and Cavern. Although Trey kind of blew up the final last guitar stanza of Stash, but all in all a good first set.

Second set opens up with Wolfman’s Brother, still one of my favorites, into Golden Age, which has been in very heavy rotation the last 4 years, and while it’s a ripping shiny bright song, the lyrics leave much to be desired, although the crowd claps in the right place, when the song requests it.  The highlight of the show was “Martian Monster” which is from the album “Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House” a Disneyland Record from 1964, which Phish covered in it’s entirety on Halloween in Vegas 2014.  Darn I missed that show.

Encore of the show is Good Times/Bad Times, and again, I’m reading into this politically, but it feels like we’re moving in that direction, in that exact order.  And the walking out music over the PA, “Freedom” by George Michael.  Both a tribute and a statement?

From the video channel of Alexander Imperatore

New York , NY

SET 1: The Star Spangled Banner, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Lonesome Cowboy Bill > Free, Train Song, Prince Caspian, Roggae, Funky Bitch, Halfway to the Moon, Corinna, Stash, Cavern

SET 2: Wolfman’s Brother, Golden Age -> Simple > Chalk Dust Torture, Martian Monster -> Tweezer Reprise Jam -> Martian Monster, Wingsuit > Possum

ENCORE: Good Times Bad Times

Jeffrey Winick is a life long Phish fan-  we went to Phish shows together back to the band’s first tour of the West Coast including a fabled show at the WOW Hall in Eugene back in 1991. He has been to dozens of Phish shows.

To Submit a review or story for consideration hit us at [email protected]

Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.