After nodding to their “17 in 17” accomplishment on opening night, Phish returned to the stage at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Friday night for the second of four year-end shows at the famed venue, delivering another two sets of live staples, old favorites and a couple second-set extended bouts of improvisation.
The evening got off to a euphoric start with the classic “Cavern,” which elicited a sing-along from the crowd during the “picture of Nectar” portion. Trey Anastasio then kept the positive energy flowing by leading his bandmates into “Blaze On,” which featured a bit of improv that allowed lighting designer Chris Kuroda a chance to flex his MSG prowess and bathe the crowd in swaths of rainbow colors.
Mike Gordon took over for “555,” which in turn led into a darker, languid jam. “I Always Wanted It This Way” ran the gamut from a straight rocker to a funky groove and paved the way for the Chilling, Thrilling cut “Martian Monster,” which led the quartet a bit further into the funk. Live staple “Heavy Things” preceded a “Destiny Unbound” that featured an interlude groove before “Ocelot” delivered a set-highlight jam with Anastasio’s guitar and Page McConnell keys creating some nice high-register interplay. The group then rounded out the frame with “Walls of the Cave.”
Set number two opened things up a bit, featuring more extended improvisation and exploration, kicking off with a “Sand” that built to a controlled frenzy and led right into the always energetic “Chalk Dust Torture.” “Ghost” infused some more funk into the night, while a run of “Backwards Down the Number Line” into “Simple” gave the performance some symmetry, mirroring the euphoric spirit of the beginning of the first set. A funky, expansive “Split Open and Melt” closed out the set, and the band would then return for an encore of “Julius.”
See the full setlist below, along with some video from the night. Phish return to The Garden tonight for night three of four.
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Set I: Cavern > Blaze On, 555, I Always Wanted It This Way > Martian Monster, Heavy Things, Destiny Unbound, Ocelot, Walls of the Cave
Set II: Sand > Chalk Dust Torture* > Ghost > Backwards Down the Number Line > Simple > Split Open and Melt