Phish kicked off their 2015 summer tour with a tightly played show at Les Schwab Ampitheater in Bend, OR. The show featured a nice mix of Phish new and old, and the band surprised fans tonight by debuting three brand new songs (Blaze On, Shade, and No Men In No Man’s Land). Shade is a slower, heartfelt ballad. Blaze On and NMINML are both high energy, groove driven songs that are sure to get plenty of play throughout this tour.
Phish stepped out for their tour opener after a long time off the road, but you couldn’t find too much rust on the Vermont quartet this evening in Bend. The band opened summer tour with Sample In A Jar. Next in the lineup was Sand, which has been finding itself in the first set rotation more over the past two years or so. Sand featured a nice Type 1 groove that displayed some polished full band interplay. Despite not going too far out there, this Sand was the highlight of the first set. The band spent the next few songs hitting some singles with 555, Rift, Halfway to the Moon, Horn, and Devotion to A Dream. Phish is doing a fantastic job of mixing in the new songs off Fuego with their road tested material from years past, and the show in Bend was certainly no exception. After a brief chat, the band launched into the first of the new songs, Blaze On. I could have sworn they were starting the Dead’s “Man Smart Women Smarter”, but once the lyrics came in it was clear it was a new Phish original. The song is lighthearted and fun, and seems to be an expression about not taking life to seriously, and doing everything you can to enjoy the ride. A short Tube (RIP Harris) followed Blaze On, and a ripping Wolfman’s Brother finished off the first set.
Set 2 was kicked off by a smooth version of the song Ghost. Ghost featured a nice piece of Type 1 improvisation that dissolved slowly into Birds of A Feather. BOAF included two “They Attack!” quotes from Page, but was standard fare otherwise. Mike’s Song was batting third in the second set. Mike’s has been a song that so many fans would like to see return to it’s days of long, intense, scary jams; but in 3.0 the band seems content on using it as a conduit for playing other songs (Simple, Wedge, Theme, etc.). A standard fare Wedge followed Mike’s song. Fuego was up in the number five slot for the second set, and this was an absolutely soaring version to my ears. This Fuego really displayed Trey’s honed in guitar skills. Instead of going to the usual ending of Fuego, the band fizzled out and dropped another new song, Shade. Shade has a similar feel to songs like Joy and Waiting All Night. It’s a heartfelt power ballad that had Trey singing with raw emotion. I have a feeling they’ll be playing around with this one as far as placement goes. It has the potential to either be a perfectly placed post-jam ballad, or an energy killer. Trey thanked the audience following Shade, and then the band dropped some hot cow funk on the audience with No Men In No Man’s Land. The song felt kind of awkward at first, but the groove was irresistible. The band gave us a short, but lively jam on NMINML, and then Fish called in a segue to Weekapaug. Paug showed just how locked in this band can be, and they took us for a nice high energy ride with this version. A true segue (->) into Boogie On Reggae Woman had the crowd going nuts. The band fooled me at first into thinking they were going into part two of a Paug jam. BORW was a short but high energy version, followed by a set closing Chalk Dust Torture. Theme From The Bottom was called up for the encore slot. It felt like the perfect way to close the show.
While tonight may have been short on the improvisation that many fans prefer, the band played two fairly tight sets featuring Trey’s honed in GD50 chops as well as three brand new songs that we will likely being seeing a lot more of this summer. The band seemed genuinely happy to be back out on the road, and it appears the practice they have put in for this tour is going to pay off handsomely. We have a lot to look forward to this summer, phanners.
My personal favorite piece from this show is the NMINML > Weekapaug Groove -> Boogie On Reggae Woman segment.
2015/07/21 – Bend, OR
Set 1: Sample in a Jar, Sand, 555, Rift, Halfway to the Moon, Horn > Devotion To a Dream, Blaze On, Tube, Wolfman’s Brother
Set 2: Ghost > Birds of a Feather, Mike’s Song > The Wedge, Fuego > Shade, No Men In No Man’s Land > Weekapaug Groove > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Chalk Dust Torture
Encore: Theme From the Bottom,