Above: Phish covered this TV on the Radio song last night
Phish brought a number of songs out of semi-retirement last night at Albany, NY’s Times Union Center. The minor league hockey arena has been a Phish favorite since its days as the Knickerbocker and has hosted a numerous historic concerts by the group since 1995 (including an appearance by estranged former guitarist Jeff Holdsworth in 2003).
Last night’s show opened with high-energy versions of “AC/DC Bag” and “Maze,” before then settling into a more mellow groove for the country-rock number “Driver,” the first version of the bluegrass cover “My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own” since 2004 and the breezy “Gumbo.” From there the group offered a tight version of “Bouncing Around the Room”—complete with a glow stick war—that faded into the Rift composition “It’s Ice.” The group then surprised many by busting out the first version of the Undermind power ballad “Two Versions of Me” since 2003 and inserting a short, groovy jam in the latter portion of the song. The set came to a close with a rocking “Timber (Jerry)” that bled into “Limb By Limb,” an on point “Cavern” and a spacey, ambient version of the Joy track “Light.”
In many ways, though, the band’s first set was just a warm-up for what was to come. The Vermont Quartet kicked things off with the popular Rift track “My Friend, My Friend” and proceeded to debut a cover of the indie rock group TV on the Radio’s “Golden Age” (the soul-funk rocker appears on the band’s 2008 release Dear Science). The song remained faithful to TV on the Radio’s arrangement at first, but quickly moved into a short, funky jam. Phish juxtaposed that decidedly modern cover with a take on Little Feat’s classic version of Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down,” the bluesy song the band covered regularly in the 1980s, revived in 1999 and played once in 2003.
The group returned to its own material for a powerful sequence that moved from “Fluffhead” into a jammed out “Piper” that came to a head in the form of the Jon Fishman original “Tomorrow’s Song.” Though the latter song appears on 2004’s Undermind, last night marked the first time the band played the track live. The rest of Phish’s second set featured a loose “Prince Caspian,” a bass-heavy “Harry Hood,” “Suzy Greenberg” and “The Squirming Coil.” Fishman, Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon all left the stage for Page McConnell to solo at the end of “The Squirming Coil” and, after an unusually long piano segment, returned for the rarest Joy track, “I Been Around” (after returning to the stage Anastasio joked, “Page we left the stage for the encore and you didn’t come. We all said, “where you been”).
The group later offered a proper encore consisting of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire,” perhaps the older cover in Phish’s regular rotation. Oddly enough, the group has played the song at each of its Albany runs since 2000. The group will return to the Times Union Center this evening.