10 Highlights from Phish’s 2012 Summer Tour (Leg One)
Photo by Frank Lanza
With the first leg of Phish’s 2012 Summer Tour in the books, we’ve taken some time to sift through the many highlights left behind in its wake. As the dust settles from what is being regarded as the band’s finest tour in a decade, here’s a list containing ten of the best moments that occurred along the way.
1. Ghost > Boogie On Reggae Woman – 6/7/12 – Worcester, MA
After fans came away with mixed reactions from Phish’s 2011 New Year’s run, many questioned what the band would sound like in 2012. But those worries were quelled during the second set of the the tour opener in Worcester, MA when the band came out firing on all cylinders with this impressive song combo.
“Ghost” emerges from a patient, spacey intro reminiscent of early versions of the song. The thematic nature of the playing comes as the initial hook—a stark contrast to the noodle-y playing that took place during the New Year’s run. As the jam builds to a crescendo, the music departs from its structure with Mike Gordon employing his signature “Meatball” effect and Trey Anastasio running through his arsenal of effects pedals.
As the jam fizzles out, Mike leads the charge into “Boogie On Reggae Woman,” which clocks in over 11 minutes—the longest version in recent memory. Trey is particularly reserved during the early stages of the jam, allowing Page McConnell and Mike to establish the direction of the improvisation. When Trey does begin to play, he works around a repetitive theme, which Page quickly picks up and begins riffing on. Mike and Jon Fishman work to keep with the funky nature of the song while Trey moves the established theme around the fret board, showing off its diverse yet repetitive nature. The jam is highly impressive and, for a tour opener, incredibly promising.
2. Sand -> Golden Age – 7/3/12 – Wantagh, NY
There’s something truly frightening about a “Sand” jam if played correctly. The song’s dark vibe when taken to the next level can prove to be emotionally consuming, and this version demonstrates such a vibe. There are moments that will have you in awe of the band’s musical abilities and others that will make you forget where you are—a truly transcendent listening experience. The jam also features Trey’s beloved “digital delay” sound, recalling some of the extended space-trips of the mid ’90s. Atop the spacey ambience, Trey leads into the opening riff of “Golden Age,” moving the improvisation into more uplifting territory. After the intensity of the “Sand” jam, the blissful playing is welcome but doesn’t last long. The end of “Golden Age” highlights some of the band’s best psychedelic jamming, carried heavily by the rhythm section.
3. Twist – 6/22/12 – Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati marked the return of the “Twist” jam. The band works its way through a number of themes and melodic concepts, including a “Heaven On Their Minds” (Jesus Christ Superstar) jam, that make this one of the standout moments from the tour. Throughout the 14 minute version, the band explores the depths of dark ambient improv through a droning, four-part journey. Each member can be heard listening to the others and riffing off their ideas. Hearing the band gel on this level is bound to put a smile on any fan’s face, no matter how jaded.
4. Light -> Manteca -> Light – 6/16/12 – Atlantic City, NJ
Dubbed by fans as “Lighteca”, the Atlantic City “Light” jam features a “Manteca” segue and a whole lot more. Breaking away from “Light” as soon as the initial solo is over, Phish explores this version of the song in earnest. The jam isn’t exactly playing on “Manteca” either. The band plays around with themes of their own design throughout and even move into “Crosseyed and Painless” territory, singing the song’s “still waiting” refrain over the jam’s peak.
5. Fee – 7/1/12 – East Troy, WI
Phish treated fans to a sublime outro jam in this version of the fan favorite “Fee.” The rarity, which is usually played without improvisation, fell into a blissful ending following its final chorus. The jam, led by Page on grand piano, presents some of the chairman’s most beautiful playing of the tour. The laid back groove builds without the need for a blistering climax, rising and sinking in tempo and mood throughout.
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The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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