Phish is on tour again this summer. They’re about to kick off the “Baker’s Dozen”, an unprecedented 13-night residency at Madison Square Garden in New York. If the first five shows leading up to it are any indication, we’re in for something truly special from a band that after 30 years can still bring us to the edge of the unknown and beyond.
I was going to begin this post with a recap of their first three nights of the tour in Chicago, featuring a half dozen new (to the band) original songs and several of the best jams of Phish 3.0 (the period since the band reunited in 2009).
Instead, I want to talk about Prince Caspian.
In addition to being a titular character in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series, Prince Caspian is a Phish song dating to 1995 and their subsequent ’96 album Billy Breathes. It’s a wistful anthem that evokes the boundless waters sailed upon by the Dawn Treader of Narnia fame, but in Phish’s playbook is usually rendered in a concise, beautiful package.
Not Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.
This 16-minute version takes Caspian further than he’s ever voyaged before, bringing the jam from well-worn paths down to a melodic simmer before exploding into new frontiers and returning triumphant with the song’s refrain to end out the set. Close your eyes and take a listen. It’s worth it.
Other notable highlights from the tour so far:
07/14/17 — Chicago, IL
- Everything’s Right, a Trey Anastasio Band original, played for the first time by Phish
- Harry Hood, with teases of What’s The Use that made me cry (they opened the show, and the tour, with What’s The Use for the first time ever)
07/15/17 — Chicago, IL
- A mind-blowing Simple with a jam clocking in at 27 minutes, the third longest ever:
07/16/17 — Chicago, IL
All of set 2. Just a delight from start to finish.
07/18/17 — Dayton, OH
- The entire show was webcast for free! The first set is rocky, but the second set has some great jamming when they finally get locked in.
07/19/17 — Pittsburgh, PA
- This entire show was on fire. Aside from the rousing Caspian ending out the first set, right out of the gates the band was in sync, the crowd was in sync, the energy in the room was palpable even through a crappy livestream from a fan’s phone mic. Mr. Completely was the other big highlight, but I’d recommend this entire show if you get the chance to listen.
Chris Kuroda, Phish’s lighting wizard, replaced the LED/plasma panels from last year’s tour with a set of movable trusses that can be raised and lowered dynamically over the band and the crowd. The officially shot videos do some justice to this, but also see Paul Languedoc’s perspective from behind the band.
If I could spend the next two weeks camped out in Madison Square Garden, I would.