, attached to 2017-08-06

Review by andrewrose

andrewrose It feels really difficult right now to consider any of the Baker's Dozen shows in complete isolation. Considering the band didn’t a repeat a single song the entire run (unless you count the Lawn Boy Reprise), you could almost say it’s more like they played one incredibly long show. The dust is still clearing from the nuclear donuts these four guys just dropped on New York, and I imagine the discussion around it will be going on for some time. Suffice it to say that this was one of Phish’s best tours in their entire career, and the finale last night, to which I’ll try and restrict my comments here, may have been the best of the bunch.

It’s difficult to understate just how great the crowd vibe was at MSG, and you got the sense that it had been getting more and more enthusiastic and loud each night. There was a real sense that the whole community was there, that everyone knew exactly what was going down, and that love and frenzy just wound itself up all night before culminating in tears in the encore (if not before). Picture if you will what happened at Coventry, how the band’s career was supposedly ending, how they wrapped it up, and what those tears were like. Now invert it into something retrospective but also forward looking, just as emotional but without a sense of loss or disappointment. That’s what we got last night. Oh, and there were some amazing jams.

The show was tight from the get go, Dogs Stole Things was a welcome surprise, and a nod perhaps to the “one more night” left at MSG. The Rift was actually pretty tight, and Camel Walk had a bit of an extra funk jam tagged on too. The first really juicy sequence of the night was the Crazy Sometimes->Saw It Again->Sanity combo. Frankenstein-esque and filthy and definitely worth hearing. Most Events Aren’t Planned was even better (and I remember screaming “Izabella!” during one of its crunchier moments; it sounded like it was coming). The Bug > I Been Around pairing was the first taste on the night of the appreciative, emotional tone that ended up putting this show over the top for me. I’ve always loved Bug and Trey sustained a note at the end of this one like it was 1993. Fantastic. I thought they might bust out New York New York, but I Been Around was clearly just as apt with its “I been around awhile / I lived in town a while / I threw it down a while / and the town threw down on me.” Finally, I thought there was a good chance we might hear Izabella given Jimi Hendrix had slipped into the the first set two nights running already. The room went absolutely nuts for the bustout going back to 1998 and Trey rocked that machine gun like nobody’s business.

I’m not sure what to say about the second set other than it’s perfect start to finish, and should stand next to just about any 5 song set from any era. The Simple and YEM are both 25 minute giants: engaging, dynamic and danceable in a way that made me feel like it was 1997. I can’t say enough about either. Just hear them. I loved the Rise/Come Together, especially its finale; it felt really earnest and heartfelt. And the tears came early for me when the band kicked into Starman. I wrote a review of the Halloween show (which I didn’t attend) that speaks more to this, but of all the possible Bowie songs to trigger those tears, they picked the right one. There’s nothing in the band’s repertoire I would have rather heard in that slot, and you have to keep in mind too that they were just coasting on a high by this point that nothing was going to subdue. Trey’s phrasing through the end of Starman is phenomenal. This carried through an absolutely blistering old school YEM that’s probably the best version of the song since 2003, complete with a return to Izabella out of the drum and bass section, and a vocal jam that has echoes of themes from the entire run. And Loving Cup’s beautiful buzz was clearly the only option to bring things home.

What I’ve been listening to over and over so far, though, is the encore that followed the Baker’s Dozen banner being raised to the rafters at MSG. Trey and Page both audibly break down in tears during their respective opening verses of On the Road Again: “the life I love is making music with my friends,” “seeing things that I may never see again.” If you’ve been seeing this band for twenty years or more like so many of us have (and even if you haven’t), you know how fortunate we are to even still have them at all, let alone have them still able to put on a show like this. Those tears seemed to me like a catharsis containing that awareness, the bittersweet realization that they’re probably never going to do something like this again, and a joyful appreciation of just how rich an experience it was, for all of us. I don’t know how much longer this band is going to be making music together, and with us, but I hope it’s for a long time. Eventually though this is going to end, like everything does. And I don’t know about you, but when the time comes to face that inevitable reality, I’m sure grateful that we’ll have this Baker’s Dozen as one of the comforts that remain.

Have fun at Dick’s!


Phish.net is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.

This project serves to compile, preserve, and protect encyclopedic information about Phish and their music.

Credits | Terms Of Use | Legal | DMCA

© 1990-2023  The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. | Hosted by Linode