photo by Rene Huemer (via Phish From the Road on Twitter)
Phish began their two-night stand at Boston’s historic Fenway Park with an action-packed show Friday evening that included a rare type-two jam in “Tube,” a monstrous “Mercury” and a crowd-pleasing “Say it to Me S.A.N.T.O.S.”
The performance began in rather standard fashion with “Free” into “Blaze On.” Both were around eight minutes, and while neither went type-two, the duo of solid and focused type-one improvisation began the show on a high note, and frontman Trey Anastasio capped off the intro by throwing a guitar pick to a fan in the front row. “555” followed, making its second appearance of the tour, followed by “Tube,” which provided the first real highlight of the evening. At just under 10 minutes, this jam had it all: deep funk to begin, a type-two major key peak and, of course, the roaring blues coda to finish the jam. “Brian and Robert” is always a treat and served as a nice cool-down after the high energy opening sequence. “Halfway to the Moon” came next, followed by “Ocelot” (a song that was debuted at Fenway in 2009) and “Rift,” each song played in standard fashion. “Everything’s Right,” however, strayed from its typical structure during the jam, again proving to be a improv vehicle for the group, and the beloved “Runaway Jim” closed out a strong first set.
Set two began in an interesting fashion, with “Sand” into “Axilla.” For much of 2018, the band used “Sand” as a sort of exclamation point on sets; it didn’t often go type-two, but it produced monstrous type-one jams with thrilling, bluesy peaks (see the October 26, 2018 version in Chicago for an example). However, this summer, they seem to have brought the song back to its roots, as this jam, while also not type-two, stayed within the funky feel of the short composed section. Upon finishing, rather than opting for a second jam vehicle, the band chose “Axilla,” a rocking, short song, which ignited the crowd. “Mercury” followed and produced the marquee jam of the night. At 20 minutes exactly (according the the LivePhish timestamp), this jam modulated keys multiple times, producing thrilling segment of improvisation before dying down.
From the “Mercury” jam’s ashes emerged “Wading the Velvet Sea,” again providing a fitting cool-down after a riveting segment of music. The jamming continued in “Fuego,” with the band modulating to the key of C-major late in the jam. Soon after, Anastasio brought them back into A, setting up a segue to “Say it to Me S.A.N.T.O.S,” which contained a roaring jam section, and “Character Zero” kept the energy up for the close of the set. “Bug” began the encore, followed by the beloved “Squirming Coil.” As is tradition, the rest of the band exited the stage while pianist Page McConnell took a moment in the spotlight, brilliantly easing the show to an end as some fireworks were deployed outside the stadium. McConnell addressed the crowd to close out night one, saying, “Thank you so much. Be safe.”
Check out the full setlist below as it appears in our Box Scores section, along with some fan-shot video from the night and pro-shot footage of each set opener via LivePhish’s webcast. Phish continue return to Fenway tonight for round two.
Fenway Park Boston, MA
Set I: Free > Blaze On, 555, Tube, Brian and Robert, Halfway to the Moon, Ocelot > Rift > Everything’s Right, Runaway Jim
Set II: Sand > Axilla, Mercury > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Fuego > Say it to Me S.A.N.T.O.S. > Character Zero
Enc: Bug, The Squirming Coil