Night 2 in New Orleans has a much more standard vibe to it; no half-hour mini-sets with a guest musician, no two hour second set, not a huge sleight of heavyweight songs like last night had…just a couple hours of Phish ripping through their tunes. The night kicks off with a slightly shaky “Rift” that sounds okay and a tight “Foam” that sounds spot-on. A quick “Bouncing” leads us into “Maze.” Page builds up a lot of energy by the end of his solo in “Maze,” and I like the comping from Mike at the end of Page’s solo too. Trey manages to keep up the momentum when the spotlight shifts to him, but his solo doesn’t quite peak as intently as Page’s did. Edge to Page tonight, but another solid “Maze” nonetheless. “Guelah Papyrus” fills the mid-set breather slot in a pleasant fashion.
“Paul and Silas” starts the second half of the set and drops into “Sample in a Jar,” which has worked itself back into the rotation. For the first time in Phish concert history the band actually plays a tight (more or less) rendition of “Sample.” Well done! It’s only taken a month. A relatively rare late-set “Runaway Jim” sounds good but Trey’s solo here didn’t wow me as much as some of the other “Jims” from tour have. While it’s a much shorter segment we do have another guest musician tonight, as Carl Gerhard of the Giant County Horns joins the band for the last two songs of the set: “Lawn Boy” and “Cavern.” The trumpet adds some nice musical flourish to the songs but otherwise it is a standard performance of these songs. This is a short set, clocking in at under an hour, but it’s well-played besides for the opening “Rift,” has some good musical fireworks in “Maze,” and a fun guest sit-in at the end of the set. It’s a solid if slightly unremarkable first half.
Set 2 begins with a quick “Axilla” that gives way to an always-welcome “Curtain,” played without the ‘With’ segment as usual. “Curtain” drops into “Split Open and Melt,” which is even more constrained than usual. Dropping “Stash” into the second set a week or two ago helped inject some experimentation into the song but no such luck here with “Split.” The jam is short and sticks to the main theme/progression. Nevertheless there’s some great shredding from Trey during the song’s peak (~7:20-8:00) that helps make it feel like a particularly intense performance of this song. A fun “Mound” brings us to “Mike’s Groove.” This “Mike’s Song” is about as by-the-books as the song can be. The jam starts at 2:50 with Page solo on organ for about half a minute before Trey joins in. This leads to the end chords at 4:50, a very brief segment of the F-key jam at 5:10, and a quick return to the end of the song.
“Hydrogen” provides the bridge to “Weekapaug,” which compared to the “Mike’s Song,” is bursting with energy and creativity. The “Weekapaug” jam starts at 1:30 after the first verse and is rocking from the beginning with some good riffing from Trey. He starts trilling at 3:15 which leads into a joyous, early peak. After riding this feel-good burst of energy they go into a more subdued section at 4:50. This leads into a cool, syncopated group-groove with Page leading as much as Trey with very staccato playing from them both. Trey fires off a final round of celebratory trilling around 8:00 to begin a final peak to the jam before a return to the verse and the end of the song. This is a great chunk of flowing improvisation that is adventurous (for the time) and a great listen start to finish. An easy highlight of the show for me.
A quick pairing of “Glide” and “My Sweet One” makes for a quirky one-two at this point of the show. This is followed by a late-show breather with “Fast Enough for You,” a slot I really like for this song. Page’s baby grand shines in this song. Fishman proclaims his hatred for “Hold Your Head Up” repeatedly in tonight’s “Terrapin”-anchored Henrietta segment. “Squirming Coil” and “Sweet Adeline” close out the set (bad recording of the a capella song tonight). “Fire” is tonight’s lone encore. I have little to complain about tonight; this is a solid show top to bottom. The first set in particular is a good listen because it’s very concise, has some good playing, and a fun (though short) guest segment. The highlight of the second set is a creative and improvisationally interesting “Weekapaug.” Otherwise, most of the songs played tonight sound like fairly standard performances compared to others on the tour. The energy and flow helps to make up for this and still make it a fun, if inessential, listen.
- Show rating: 3/5
- Highlights: “Weekapaug Groove”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 57 mins.
- Second set length: 85 mins.
- This is the fifth and last time Phish performed at Tipitina’s. However, several Phish side projects will return to this venue over the years (including the Jazz Mandolin Project and Pork Tornado).
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Fire,” returning after a six show absence (2/22/93).
- The best represented studio album is Lawn Boy (5 songs).