After a nearly five-year absence, veteran jam band Phish returned to the stage last night (March 6) at Virginia's Hampton Coliseum to a deafening roar, treating fans to a career-spanning set that didn't skimp on epic jams. As the group greeted the crowd, guitarist Trey Anastasio and pianist Page McConnell grinned in disbelief at the reaction.
The first set alone was long even by Phish's standards, clocking in at just under two hours and boasting 16 songs. The entire crowd sang along for opener "Fluffhead," a 16-minute fan favorite from early in the band's career which hadn't been played since 2000. "Suzy Greenberg" and "David Bowie" also inspired spirited singalongs.
Phish slowed things down towards the end of the "Stash," with McConnell's piano in the fore as his bandmates provided eerie, atmospheric sounds. Other first set gems included a fast, bouncy "NICU," a countrified version of "Water in the Sky," the piano solo at the end of "The Squirming Coil" and the a capella leanings of "I Didn't Know," which featured drummer Jon Fishman playing a vacuum cleaner.
To open the second set, Phish debuted "Backwards Down the Number Line" as promised. The uptempo rock number, which features Anastasio singing "the only rule is it begins, happy happy, oh my friend," was the only time he didn't seem completely comfortable on stage; he was clearly concentrating hard.
The road anthem "Possum" featured the only lead vocals from bassist Mike Gordon. Of the night's two instrumentals, the grinding guitar funk of "First Tube" was welcomed by the dancing fans in the hallways. The end of the second set also featured classics like "You Enjoy Myself," which closed with one of the group's "vocal"-style jams.
After a lengthy encore pause, the group re-emerged barbershop quartet style to play "Grind," from 2004's "Undermind." Phish closed this first Hampton reunion show with crowd favorite "Bouncing Around the Room" and the Rolling Stones' "Loving Cup." The band will return to continue its three-night run tonight and tomorrow; all three shows are available for free download from LivePhish.com.
Here is Phish's Hampton night one set list:
"The Divided Sky"
"Chalk Dust Torture"
"Sample In A Jar"
"I Didn't Know"
"The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony">
"Water In The Sky"
"The Squirming Coil"
"Backwards Down The Number Line"
"Theme From The Bottom"
"You Enjoy Myself"
"Bouncing Around The Room"