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Performances Song History Lyrics

When the Circus Comes

Music/Lyrics: Hidalgo, Perez

Vocals: Trey

Original Artist: Los Lobos

Original Album: Kiko (1992)

Albums: Live Phish 06, Live Phish 08, Live Phish 11, Walnut Creek, Star Lake 98, Alpine Valley

Debut: 1997-02-13

Historian: Ellis Godard (lemuria)

Last Update: 2012-01-22

Like Phish, Los Lobos is a great band that sometimes suffers a disservice by comparisons to the Grateful Dead. Trey’s reported fondness for their “Circus” led to rumors that it would be included on the studio release Story of the Ghost. And that might have been appropriate, given the song’s prolific history on Phish’s stage during the first few years after its debut.

Although the original is gorgeous in lyric and chord, the 2/13/97 debut is as forgettable as the other four debuts from that show. Delivery was not much stronger its next three appearances. But Phish breathed warmth into "Circus" on 6/14/97, opening the encore for an underrated show which included strong jamming in unexpected spots including “Waste” and “Cavern.” Of its next ten appearances, six were encore openers, including strong shows on the sumer European tour (see 6/20/97 and 7/1/97), and 7/22/97, the fabulous lightning show immortalized on the Walnut Creek DVD. It appeared at Shoreline on 7/31/97 as one of several nods to Jerry Garcia, then again just prior to The Great Went art bonfire on 8/17/97



Phish, "When the Circus Comes" – 2/16/97, Cologne, Germany

Its only appearance with Phish between the hiatus and the breakup was on 7/29/03, between “Timber” and “McGrupp.” The handful of post-breakup performances to date included prominent placement in the third set of the Halloween performance at Festival 8 and on 8/14/10, appearing on the Alpine Valley 2010 DVD. Fans of "Circus" will also want to seek out any of Trey's four solo acoustic performances from his spring 1999 tour.



Phish, "When the Circus Comes" – 6/17/10, Hartford, CT

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spaceotter Reply
Trey altered one line of the lyrics. The original Los Lobos lyric is "with a dent in my soul and a hole in my heart." On every version I can recall, Trey sings instead "with a pain in my soul..." Perhaps not of significance to very many people, but I thought it worth mentioning.
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nichobert Reply
nichobert Be sure to check out the version from 12/31/1997 with a sweet segue into Roses Are Free. If any of your friends claim that they called this segue in their Phantasy setlists, feel free to brand them as a monstrous liar and a fraud.
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