Phish returned to the stage at Madison Square Garden last night to play the final show of their four-night run. What was originally intended to be a traditional New Year’s run was postponed to mid-April instead, thanks to Omicron. So it was that Phish played three sets and turned MSG into a musical, magical aquarium on Earth Day. Maybe this will be the start of a new tradition.
With one show left to play, the band wasted no time and started the first set with “Fluffhead”. The classical-inspired tune was played well overall as guitarist Trey Anastasio led the band through the song’s twists and turns. A great way to start a show, and one that recalls the very first notes of the 3.0 era.
Next up was “Mike’s Song”, bringing some funk to the first set. Bassist Mike Gordon was in the driver’s seat as he led the jam with bass bombs and tight, funk riffing. Trey brought the short jam into a major key plateau, ushering in the song’s exciting finale. After a brief pause, Phish launched into the instrumental “I Am Hydrogen”, and wrapped around into an upbeat and funky take of “Weekapaug Groove” with some excellent keyboard work from Page McConnell.
Phish – “Fluffhead” – 4/23/22
The band kept the energy high with a first set “Simple” that had fans cheering. After singing through the quirky lyrics, Phish delivered the first big jam of the evening, turning from the song’s composed structure and dropping quickly into outer space. Jon Fishman’s drumming led the band from a spacey jam into more upbeat territory, before the band veered in a darker, brooding direction. This brooding jam briefly morphed into the droning Sci-Fi Soldier song “Egg In A Hole” before returning to the end section of “Simple” to close out the 20-ish minutes of music.
Next up was another classically inspired Junta composition, “The Divided Sky”. The fan favorite song was played well, perhaps highlighted by the traditional long pause between halves of the song as the band soaked up the energy in the room. Finally, the band burst into what was to be the first set closer: “First Tube”. Trey’s soaring guitar and Page’s piano brought the jam to its crescendo, and, following the song’s conclusion, Trey raised his guitar overhead amidst blaring feedback to end the set triumphantly.
After a 45-minute break, Phish returned to the stage for the final set of their four-night, nine-set run. They began with “No Men in No Man’s Land”, taking the funky Trey original deep for a nearly 27-minute jam session. The band was locked in tightly, feeding off each other as they moved through themes that were, at times, blissful, patient, floaty, darker, and triumphant.
Phish – “No Men in No Man’s Land” – 4/23/22
The jam concluded when Trey strummed the opening chords of “Prince Caspian”. This was a short lived “Caspian”, as the band veered quickly into “Piper”. This was an exploratory “Piper” that spent some time in an atonal, heavy space before resolving into a loose and funky jam. Out of this, the band transitioned into the upbeat song, “Gotta Jibboo”, highlighted by Page’s piano work and some melodic riffs from Trey. The bright, Type I jam brought the band to the song’s ending, and the first real pause of the set.
Next up was Page’s Big Boat original, “I Always Wanted It That Way”, replete with ’80s synth arpeggios and funky rhythmic offerings from Fishman and Gordo. After a hearty jam out, Trey led the band into the title track of his quarantine album, “Lonely Trip”. The soulful ballad provided a breath-catching moment in an otherwise barn burning second set.
It was “Walls of the Cave” that closed out the second set, capping off a jam heavy display of music from Phish. The version was highlighted by shredding guitar backed by emphatic playing all around.
Upon returning to the stage, Trey strummed the opening chords to the beloved Phish classic, “Wilson”. The energetic rocker brought the house down, and the band kept things rolling with a great version of “David Bowie”. That’s three from Junta, for anyone keeping score at home. A quick and impassioned version of “More” would close out the encore, the show, and the run, reminding fans everywhere to vibrate with love and light.
There you have it. Four great nights of music at Madison Square Garden, courtesy of the jam band Phish. Fortunately, more Phish is coming soon—the band begins its Spring & Summer 2022 tour on May 27 in Orange Beach, AL. You can see the full tour schedule here and check out the setlist from last night’s show below.
Setlist [via phish.net]: Phish | Madison Square Garden | New York, NY | 4/23/22
Set One: Fluffhead, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Simple -> Egg In A Hole -> Simple, The Divided Sky, First Tube
Set Two: No Men In No Man’s Land -> Prince Caspian > Piper > Gotta Jibboo, I Always Wanted It This Way > Lonely Trip, Walls of the Cave
Encore: Wilson > David Bowie, More
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