Thursday 07/13/2023 by phishnet


[Thank you to user @MM2001, for recapping last night's show. -Ed.]

The Orion Amphitheater is an intimate, coliseum style, slice of heaven in north Alabama. From the food trucks outside the amphitheater to the multiple bars throughout the venue offering unique selections of craft cocktails and craft beer, this venue gets an A+. Seriously, Huntsville, AL deserves a huge thank you for creating this space for music lovers. There is not a bad seat in the house.

You could feel the anxiety as heat lightning radiated around the venue, never getting close enough to cause a delay. A lot of prayers were said as a delightfully refreshing, misty drizzle provided a bit of relief from the heat. Alas, there were no delays for weather as if mother nature was smiling down on everyone present.

The opening song, its debut as such, was “Plasma.” This may have been one of the most well executed versions in all of Phishtory. It was beautiful all the way through the peak which had the crowd begging for more. As they moved on and into “Sigma Oasis,” the style of jam to this point really set the tone for the evening. Unlike the previous night’s dark and gritty style, tonight was bound to be light, airy, and fun. “Sigma Oasis” flowed easily into a lovely ambient jam. It was soothing to hear and watch the patience with which it was built. In the end, Mike took a stance and slowed everything down as they launched “Wolfman’s Brother.” It was a fairly typical, but entertaining as usual, rendition. In keeping with the tone set, they avoided diving into the darker undertones and kept a refreshing pace.

© 2023 PHISH (Rene Huemer)
© 2023 PHISH (Rene Huemer)

Next up was “Evolve.” The placement of this tune gave us time to breathe and settle into what was to come. This song, off of Trey Anastasio’s solo album recorded during pandemic isolation, Lonely Trip, was its fifth appearance in a Phish setlist. They are clearly sticking to their theme of higher scientific education. Perfectly positioned to lead into a song written by Mike Gordon for his solo project, “Mull.” The more I hear this groovy tune, the more I love it. Fishman was, at this point, totally dialed in to everyone else on stage. He was a steady, driving force throughout the night. Speaking of Fishman, as they wrapped up “Mull,” you can hear his taps soften and slow to lead into “Bouncing Around the Room”. Classically played to keep the breezy tone we enjoyed all night.

They close out the first set with two classic fan favorites, “Stash” and “David Bowie.” While a typical “Stash” goes in and out of the dark depths of its composition, this night it stayed upbeat and fresh in line with the rest of the first set. During “Bowie,” Mike led the way through a funky groove until Trey ripped it up through climax to close it out in true “Bowie” fashion.

To get the second set started, they revisited the Lonely Trip album for the second time and opened with “A Wave of Hope.” Mike and Fishman were the stars of this one. You could feel the rhythm they set in your chest in this small venue. From here, the set made its way to the jam of the night in my opinion, “Fuego.” It clocked in at 18:52 with no mention of ‘Viking warriors with animal heads.’ This jam hosted the darkest moments of the night. It seemed like Trey and Page were determined to keep it upbeat as they layered notes over tones and both over the darkness coming from the rhythm section. This led to a nearly flawless segue into a fast paced “Piper,” once again driven by the great Jon Fishman. After a masterful pause, Fishman settled in and Trey took the reigns for a few minutes finally hitting multiple variations of the progression he had been building up throughout the night. The last few minutes saw Trey and Fishman increase the tempo inviting Mike and Page to have what seemed like a choppy and friendly conversation.

© 2023 PHISH (Rene Huemer)
© 2023 PHISH (Rene Huemer)

After finishing “Piper,” they slowed it down to debut yet another new song, “Ether Edge.” As I was listening to if for the first time, it struck me as another ‘dad rock’ ballad from Trey. It was not my favorite of the evening. Having listened to it a few more times since, it is behaving like most of his new songs… It is growing on me a tiny bit at a time and it will be interesting to watch it develop as it is played. After that respite, the song we were all waiting for and knew would come at some point came. And boy did it come full force. “Mercury” hosted the second most exploratory jam of the evening with Fishman playing beautiful melodies on the Marimba Lumina. Trey fleetingly played with the progression he perfected during “Piper” earlier in the set maintaining the lighter tones of the night. They started slowing down the tempo and made their way into “Free.” It was perfectly placed as the second set closer, in my humble opinion. They delivered a classic, banging “Free.” Mike’s heavy bass has always been the highlight of this song for me.

As we are waiting for the encore, the conversations around the crowd are all about the theme. Will it be space themed? Will they play “Life on Mars?” or “Spock’s Brain?” Or will we stick with academia and science? Can it be a “Golgi Apparatus?” No, no, no, it is better than that. They held the theme of academia and higher education perfectly and came out strong with an “Alumni Blues”>”Letter to Jimmy Page”> “Alumni Blues.” Trey always seems to have so much fun playing this song as he did tonight. He changed the words to ‘and no PhD’ and then again to ‘I got a regular old degree.’ The “Letter to Jimmy Page” was as fun and lighthearted as it always is. When you think they can’t possibly rock out anymore, they follow that with a screaming “Antelope”. Fishman hits the sampler for a ‘yeah’ that will take you right back to summer tour 2021.

Overall, this show was good and had a rock solid execution. The juxtaposition created between night one and night two prove the versatility and sheer talent of this band we all love so much. I cannot close out my thoughts without mention of the man, the myth, the legend… Chris Kuroda. The light rig in this tiny venue was sensational and seemed to give him a lot more creative wiggle room, for lack of a better phrase. Finally, I would like wish safe travels to everyone on the road and will see you all in Alpharetta!

Written by Michael Marut (MM2001) of Greenville, SC and Bridget Quinn (BridgetCQ) of Mobile, AL. Avid fans and forever show partners.

If you liked this blog post, one way you could "like" it is to make a donation to The Mockingbird Foundation, the sponsor of Support music education for children, and you just might change the world.


, comment by pureguava
pureguava Delightful read. Thank you.
, comment by Roundabackcircled
Roundabackcircled I love that y’all are “forever show partners.” The best type of commitment. Nice write up too!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Support & Mbird
Fun with Setlists
Check our Phish setlists and sideshow setlists!
Phish News
Subscribe to Phish-News for exclusive info while on tour! is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.

This project serves to compile, preserve, and protect encyclopedic information about Phish and their music.

Credits | Terms Of Use | Legal | DMCA

© 1990-2024  The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. | Hosted by Linode