[Editor's Note: We'd like to welcome friend of the site and taper of many a Phish video,@LazyLightning55 for this recap.]
Last night, Phish made their return to the lovely city of Portland, Maine after a seven year absence, for their seventh show at the arena formerly known as the Cumberland County Civic Center. A small crew of us took in the sounds from dead center on the floor in what'd be the 20th row if there were seats.
“Grind” kicks off the festivities as I’m asked whose birthday it is. Maybe one of Fish’s 12 kids? I don't know. Always nice to hear, though and, of course, impressed to see how high these guys can REALLY count. “Cars Trucks Buses” makes its yearly appearance in a setlist, as Page’s lead gets the crowd grooving. “Blaze On” follows and is solid - Garry now has the sound dialed in, and Trey seems very happy onstage and has fun with it. Next up is “Yarmouth Road,” which whose namesake exists in basically half the towns and streets in New England, so is apropos at any venue northeast of New York City.
Photo © Derek Gregory
The next stretch of tunes from where we stood, was very exciting and sounded great. A standard “Kill Devil Falls,” which routinely lights the place up, did just that. “The Sloth” comes next. Always a good selection, it was a drop slower than previous 3.0 versions. A soothing rendition of “Billy Breathes” follows. This marks the second play in ten shows for this song that usually makes but an annual appearance. the standard “MFMF” re-energizes the crowd behind Fish's drum leads as Trey tells the dark story of man with knife.
After the Myfe, discussion goes on between bandmembers -- always exciting. All that time, to come up with “Heavy Things,” making seemingly its 14th appearance in ten shows. “Heavy Things” is its vibrant bouncy self, and Trey actually soloed for more than one measure after Page's now-obligatory solo.
Then came Mike's “555” which is standard, yet well played as it always seems to be.
Next was the new Page tune “Things People Do,” followed by “The Line.” “Stash” this late means it’s gonna be a good one. And a good one it is, as the jam begins, a virtual quiet comes over the band and arena as “Stash” slowly makes its way towards the screaming end to close the typical first set.
Did I mention the sound inside the hall was excellent?
Official Poster by James Eads
Set two begins with “First Tube,” which gets the place rocking asap as Kuroda lights us up along with Trey who does his rock star thing. Right into “Tweezer” we go… a few of us exchange glances, all the same glances... ones that say "OKAY LET’S GO NOW!" “Tweezer” begins its groove as usual at the 5 min. mark and we are hopeful the band is willing to do some exploring. They do for about 6 or 7 minutes as Trey leads the way into a nice dark groove. It would’ve been great to peak it out, but instead we land on “Guyute.” The story of the pig closes the three song opening to set two.
The opening notes of “Mike's Song” rings out and the crowd immediately gets down. After the jam, Trey turns to Page and says we are going to play “Tide Turns” now, and then whatever else I choose. “Tide Turns” is a radio-friendly Trey love song that runs about four and a half minutes and, I guess, is probably better than any song you or I have written. Next up is “Devotion To A Dream,” a song without a home that shows up unannounced, puts its stuff down on your couch, and entertains you until it leaves. This version was excellent. “DTAD” is followed by “Wingsuit,” which seems to get more and more precise with each play. “Wingsuit” is as excellent as the sound... Did I mention the sound inside was excellent?
Next up is “Bittersweet Motel,” which hasn't been played since 7/4/12 at Jones Beach. It’s nice surprise... maybe a li’l dusty but they get it done. Next came “Fluffhead,” making its second appearance of the summer after much clamoring from the fanbase for its return. Not only is “Fluffhead” played, but some Fluffhead -- a kid no more than 20 years old -- emerges from the back of the stage, and climbs onto Fishman’s drum kit, grabs a drumstick and begins to assist Jon with the first minute of the song until security realizes this kid isn’t in the band and removes him. “Fluffhead”’s climax sends the crowd into delirium as usual, and upon its final guitar strokes morphs into “Weekapaug,” which closed the set. Have you ever seen a “Mike's” > “Weekapaug” with “Tide Turns” > “DTOD” > “Wingsuit” > “Bittersweet Motel” > “Fluffhead” sandwiched inside? I haven't. There are firsts for everything, huh?
"Fluffhead" - Photo © Derek Gregory
For the encore, Trey requests Mike play “Contact.” Mike obliges, singing of hugging curves on a road, as the crowd sways its arms left to right and we repeat in unison exactly which car parts make contact with the road. Finally, “Tweezer Reprise” sends us out with a bang.
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