On Wednesday, July 28, Phish took the stage at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion, celebrating their first show in 521 days, marking off their first-ever show in Arkansas, and debuting their first-ever “I Needed You Like This Before.”
As previously stated, the band opened with their live debut of “I Never Needed You Like This Before,” which guitarist Trey Anastasio wrote and recorded in his NYC apartment during COVID-19 lockdown.
From there, Phish offered a straightforward, yet rocking, “Tube” followed by a cathartic “Free.” (The latter’s “feel the feeling I forgot” lyric elicited cheers from the music-deprived crowd.)
“Thank you, thank you for being here with us. Thank you for having us here. Thanks for saving our lives,” Anastasio told the crowd before launching into “Bouncing Around The Room.”
From there, the quartet took “46 Days” for a nice walk before digging further into a theme of reformation with “Limb By Limb.”
As the amphitheater got dark, “Wolfman’s Brother” provided ample opportunity for Anastasio and company to hit some nice crescendos.
“NICU” came next and “Drift While Your Sleeping” offered a brief wind down, with an emotional set-ending sing-along to the chorus, “And we move through stormy weather/ We know that our days are few/ And we dream and we struggle together/ And love will carry us through.”
Set two began with Phish’s long-awaited “Down with Disease,” acting as an energetic response to the COVID-19 crisis. This “DWD” clocked in over 14 minutes, with the band going deep into a space jam, before making a swift, smooth left-turn segue into “Simple.”
A surprise “Fuego” arrived in the midst of the dark “Simple” jam, and Phish rode that wave firmly into a blissful “Plasma.”
However, it was the back-and-forth fusion of “Runaway Jim” and “Weekapaug Groove” that really made fans’ ears perk up, and it didn’t take long for Phish to continue that off-the-wall energy into “Rift.”
An emotional pitstop came with “If I Could,” a ballad that Anastasio has been playing more frequently through his pandemic solo performances.
After “Rise/Come Together,” “Slave To The Traffic Light” brought blissful energy to the forefront once again for the second set ender, and keyboardist Page McConnell even tossed in some new, moaning vocal samples for good measure.
“This is the first time we’ve ever played Arkansas and it’s so exciting for us. We’ve been wanting to come here for a long time… It lives up to every dream we had of coming here. So invite us back! My phone number is public right?” Anastasio grinned before the encore “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.”
Phish is set to perform once again on Friday, July 31 at the Oak Mountain Amphitheatre in Pelham, Ala.
Check out the full setlist and clips of each set-opener below:
July 28, 2021
Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion, Rogers, Ark.
Set I: I Never Needed You Like This Before^, Tube > Free, Bouncing Around the Room, 46 Days, Limb By Limb, Wolfman’s Brother, NICU, Drift While You’re Sleeping
Set II: Down with Disease -> Simple > Fuego > Plasma > Runaway Jim -> Weekapaug Groove > Runaway Jim > Rift, If I Could, Rise/Come Together, Slave to the Traffic Light
Enc:Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.
^ live debut