, attached to 2016-10-31

Review by DonGordleone

DonGordleone This is less a straightforward show review than a reflection on what was, for me, the most powerful moment of the night: that performance of "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide." Even in a run overflowing with transcendent jamming, it's those four astonishing minutes that I feel luckiest to have been there for in person.

****

One of the things that makes Phish so remarkable is the band’s ability to surprise — and intensely delight — its fans on a regular basis, even after 33 years.

But even with a fan base that’s primed to expect the unexpected, Phish’s 2016 Halloween show was a shocker.

That’s not because of what the band chose for its musical costume (ever since David Bowie’s death, many had speculated that one of the legendary performer’s albums was in the cards).

Rather, it’s because the evening’s climax came in a form no Phish fan could have predicted: a vocal performance by a guitarless Trey.

Big Red had prowled the stage sans guitar earlier in the Ziggy Stardust set, singing “It Ain’t Easy” with slightly awkward swagger. But when the raucous roar of “Suffragette City” subsided and Trey put aside his guitar for a second time to sing “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide,” what happened next wasn’t just a performance. It was a transformation.

With focus and intensity, Trey used his voice to take us on an emotional journey through the last days of a fallen rock star. The lines here were blurred: This wasn’t just Ziggy’s story; it was Trey’s own, before the redemption arc began.

To explore such painful and personal terrain, without the comfort and protection of his guitar, was a risky move — an “and you step to the mic…” moment (sorry) if ever there were one. And he nailed it, delivering the vocal performance of his life. In doing so, he inspired all of us to step out of our comfort zones — to not ever be afraid to make ourselves vulnerable in pursuit of something beautiful.

“All the knives seem to lacerate your brain / I've had my share — I'll help you with the pain.”

That’s what Trey and Phish did for us on this night, and on all nights when they’re really playing as one unit. They help us transcend, even if for just a few moments, the pain and the grind of our everyday existences, of our problems and fears.

They are a thrilling reassurance that yes, there *is* something more than the shitty aspects of this world gone mad -- and it's the collective joy and connection we feel (both crowd and band!) as we experience this music together.

“Oh no, love. You’re not alone.”

Thanks to Phish, we know.


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