Phish Rip Through Fan Favorites at First Hampton Reunion Show - Rolling Stone
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Phish Rip Through Fan Favorites at First Hampton Reunion Show

There was nothing outlandish about Phish’s show last night at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia — except for the fact that it was the jam-band kings’ first show in almost five years. Over a massive, four-hour set, guitarist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon, drummer Jon Fishman and keyboardist Page McConnell ripped through dozens of crowd-favorites like “Harry Hood,” “You Enjoy Myself,” and “David Bowie” to a psyched, totally-sold-out audience of 13,000 fans. (Read a report from night two and grab photos of Phish’s Hampton run.)

Over their storied three-decade career, Phish have become known for performing some one-of-a-kind shows filled with surprise covers and transcendent improvisation. (You can witness this on their new, seven-disc box set Live at the Roxy, from a 1993 Atlanta show). But for the newly-reunited Phish, last night was all about getting reacquainted with their catalog — and with the audience. It was like hanging out with friends you haven’t seen in years: things are awkward at first, but after a few minutes, it’s just like old times. (Check out photos of the Vermont jam legends’ long career.)

When the band hit the stage at close to 8 pm, they kicked things off with some of their most compositionally complex tunes, from the knotted prog-funk of “Fluffhead” to “Divided Sky,” where the group’s quiet, mellifluous interplay of guitar, drums, bass and keys suggests they’re as well-oiled of a machine as they’ve ever been. Only about 50 minutes into the set did the guys really seem to relax. Before launching into the ominous groove of “Stash,” Gordon took a moment to adjust his onstage fan while McConnell stepped up from the keys to stretch out.

From there, the show became a total party with highlights including gut-punching jams like “Possum,” the Stevie Wonder-esque funk on “Tweezer” and “Harry Hood,” during which lighting designer Chris Kuroda turned the room into a giant disco. (One intrepid fan snuck in an inflatable alien, which danced in the air as fans tossed it around the floor.)

Of course, it would not be a Phish show without some hi-jinks from the band. “You Enjoy Myself,” which the group aborted and started again after flubbing its complex arrangement, closed with a seriously spooky a cappella jam. And when Phish launched into “Bouncing Around the Room” during their encore, the crew let loose a bunch of giant, inflatable balloons, one of which exploded on McConnell’s piano rig.

After the show, fans spilled out into the lots and what would have normally turned into a raucous outdoor party was quietly shut down by police. But who could argue? Nothing topped the excellent, four-hour bash Phish had just delivered inside.

Set One:
“Divided Sky”
“Chalk Dust Torture”
“Sample In A Jar”
“I Didn’t Know”
“Oh Kee Pah Ceremony”
“Suzy Greenberg”
“Train Song”
“Water In The Sky”
“Squirming Coil”
“David Bowie”

Set Two
“Backwards Down The Number Line”
“Theme From The Bottom”
“First Tube”
“Harry Hood”
“You Enjoy Myself”

“Bouncing Around The Room”
“Loving Cup”

Related Stories:

Phish Reunion Parking Lot: Up Close and Personal With the Jam Band’s Big Fans
Free Phish: Band Giving Away Downloads of Virginia Reunion Shows
Video: Phish Perform “Fluffhead” At Clifford Ball

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