The jam rock icon Phish triumphantly returned to Madison Square Garden for the first night of a four night stand, rescheduled from December 2021 because of complications with the COVID-19 pandemic. The show kicked off with a bang, including a type II jam in the first song, despite not having played since February 27th, 2022. The band didn't stop there, and brought a mix of old and new songs, each elevating the show in a uniquely exciting way.
The band typically plays a four night run to close out the year at this storied venue, but hasn't played there since December 2019, when guitarist Trey Anastasio got stuck on a platform in the rafters during the annual new years gag for a set. The Garden has become a home away from home for this band, having played there 65 times counting this show, which is more than any other venue. In fact, they have played the third most shows of any artist, behind Billy Joel and Elton John, at the "World's Most Famous Arena." Tickets sell out in seconds, and this run was no exception.
The first set began with the dark classic "Carini," which clocked in at nineteen minutes, igniting the fiery dance party early on. This version included an evil type II jam, which was a surprising treat for fans, especially in the opening song. The band clearly showed no signs of rust, as Anastasio and keyboardist Page McConnell interwove depth throughout this sequence. "Carini" profoundly transitioned into the high energy "Possum," from their 1993 release, Rift.
An unfinished "Moma Dance" was up next, as the band delivered a healthy dose of funk. The energy cooled off with a more reflective segue into "Leaves," from the 2020 album, Sigma Oasis. McConnell took the vocal lead for "Strange Design," which was last played on December 7th, 2019 in North Charleston, SC. Another set list heavy weight, "Stash" brought more stellar improvisation to this opening sequence. Fans celebrated 4/20, the unofficial cannabis holiday, with the set closing "Blaze On."
The momentum continued to build in the second set. "Sigma Oasis," another tune from Sigma Oasis, began a non-stop chain of songs that lasted over fifty five minutes. This gushed into a twenty two minute "Down with Disease" that highlighted Anastasio's characteristic guitar shredding. Lighting Director Chris Kuroda masterfully complemented the music with multi-layered light rig that moved with the groove.
"Disease" meandered into new comer, "The Howling," which debuted in October 2021 as part of the band's new Sci-fi Soldier album. The funk infused jam smoothly transitioned into "Twist," from the 2000 release, Farmhouse. After a tasty build up, "Twist" profoundly wound down into the softer "Mountains in the Mist."
The band took a moment to convene, and unleashed the penultimate tune of the set, "Reba." This vintage tune is loved by the fan base for the intense tension and release build ups followed by a blissful jam, and this version was no exception. The set ended with the soft but inspiring "Drift While You're Sleeping."
After a few moments of boisterous applause, the band returned to play old favorites, "Gumbo" and "Slave to the Traffic Light." This was a certainly a rewarding encore for those who had not left to catch a train.
Phish once again brought a heated show packed with exploratory jams to Madison Square Garden. They are back in action all weekend, including a three set show on Friday night. Tickets are sold out, but can be acquired for face value on the face value ticket exchange, Cash or Trade. If Madison Square Garden isn't in your future, the band will embark on a 34 night tour this spring and summer. Visit their tour page for more details.
Check out more photos from the show!
Carini > Possum, The Moma Dance1 > Leaves, Strange Design, Stash, Blaze On
Sigma Oasis > Down with Disease > The Howling -> Twist > Mountains in the Mist, Reba, Drift While You're Sleeping
Gumbo, Slave to the Traffic Light