Some people attend church on Sunday. My church on Sunday was Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The pastor: Phish. Sixteen years Uniondale, New York, has been waiting for the boys from Vermont to make a triumphant return to the arena. “Phans” braved the elements outside to see what the guys had in store for this Sunday evening in Long Island.
With a slight drum roll, in the backdrop from, Jon Fishman, that may have not been over the deafening sound of the crowd, Trey Anastasio, then took the helm center stage with the opening riffs of “Ghost”, that appeared in the opening slot of a show in more than three years. This was just the tip of the iceberg for what was in store for Nassau. Three minutes and fifty-one seconds of pure bliss filled the air when Anastasio blissfully guided the band into his 1987 instrumental composition, “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday.” A beautiful piano accompanied the distinguished guitar players (Anastasio) notes as Fishman lightly tapped his cymbals. Accompanying “TMWSIY”, was a well-known prayer of the Jewish faith, “Avenu Malkanu”, with some tasteful psychedelic bass lines from Mike Gordon. With the opening lines of “You have been selected as the first astronaut to explore the planet Mars…” this was definitely a “blast off” point for the veterans as the capacity audience gave the energy right back, dancing the night away. “Cool It Down”, was a nice ode to the weather outside in Uniondale, and an infrequent performance of the Lou Reed (Velvet Underground) penned track off of the group's 1970 album, “Loaded”. Bringing the first half of the show to a triumphant close was fab favorite, “Character Zero”, which had the thousands singing along “I ought to see the man Mulcahy”, as the lights were illuminated with precision from one of the best in the business, Chris Kuroda, known as “CK5”. The house lights go up and there you have it folks, Set I in the books.
“Everything's Right,” was, in my opinion, a perfect way to begin the second stanza. The lyrics, “Everything’s right so just hold tight”, penned by Anastasio and his longtime friend and lyricist, Tom Marshall, rang out through the arena. The words are so true. At the moment, you are surrounded by some of your closest friends for the evening for one main reason: The love of Phish. Light and fluffy or super dark, Phish can do it all. “Carini” in Nassau turned dark and heavy, the phans, and Kuroda were having an absolute blast with this number, which has been performed in different fashions over twenty-two years.
At this point in the set, the foursome was flowing from song to song. McConnell and Fishman, on keys and drums, respectively, shined brightly on the lighthearted, “Backwards Down The Number Line”. The energy kept rising and rising at the second set came to a triumphant close with, “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S,” with Trey leading the charge with “This is what space smells like…”
Before the band sent the “phans” into the brisk Uniondale air, they treated the faithful to a standard rendition of Ween’s, “Roses Are Free”, along with a stellar “Slave To The Traffic Light”.
Thirty-six years under their belt, Phish, is still bringing energy to the stage. Yes, they may not hit every “perfect note”, but that is the beauty of Phish and the love of the music.