As Phish entered the beginning of their 40th year together they returned to Mexico for a 6th run at the Moon Palace Resort in Riviera Maya. Fans and those in attendance were served up 4 nights of classics and jam-heavy Phish at their phinest. It’s taken me a few days to catch up on the shows remotely and I can honestly say that it’s been a real treat and you can catch some of the tracks on my Ben Jammin shows over the next few weeks. There’s so much good material to choose from I’ll be swimming through the content for quite some time. Back to the shows though…
Feb 23rd was Night One and billed as a “Welcome Set”. The band played an extended single set and Encore on that day and those who were there got some real gems. The band opened with a strong “Harry Hood” and it was the first time they’ve opened a show with this song since their 20th anniversary show in Boston in 2003. It was an awesome version! Other treats for the first show included, “My Friend, My Friend”, “Cars Trucks Buses”, “Bouncing Around the Room” and “Free” with tight and funky versions of “Sand” and “The Moma Dance”. The band then capped the night with the never failing “46 Days” to send fans home for the evening.
Night Two had the more traditional 2 set format and fans were surprised and delighted by a “Dinner and a Movie” opener into the Rolling Stones “Loving Cup” followed by an extended (16 minute) version of “A Wave of Hope” and “Stash”. From there the band took us through “Heavy Things”, “555”, “Axilla (Part 2)” and finished set one with an impressive “Split Open and Melt”. Set 2 opened with “First Tube” into “Waves” and then went deep with a 20 minute version of “Ruby Waves” ultimately ending with one of the strongest versions of “Bathtub Gin” ever played, in my opinion. The night wrapped with the beloved classics “Golgi Apparatus” and “Character Zero”. Day 1 and 2 ended with powerful guitar driven songs by Trey that did not disappoint.
Night Three continued on theme with Phish pulling out a very unexpected opener of “Gotta Jiboo” and moving through set one with fantastic versions of “Poor Heart”, “Saw it Again” and a blazing version of “Maze”. Set 2 opened with a monstrous 25 minute version of “Down with Disease” followed by “Golden Age”, “Soul Planet” and a laid back version of “Runaway Jim”. Set 2 was absolutely highlighted by a funky version of “2001” for me. There isn’t much better than McConnell’s Rhodes work on that track. Night three was encored with the always loved “Fee” and “Wedge” tracks which felt like a very satisfying way to end the night.
Sunday, Feb 26th, Phish closed out the 4-night run at the beach with a bag full of tricks including more classics like “David Bowie”, “Tube”, “Prince Caspian” and a 12-minute “Ghost”. The opener that night was one of my favorite versions of “Sigma Oasis” to date and the band closed the first set with “The Squirming Coil”. Set two saw more ripping guitar and drum work with a “Possum” opener into “Julius” and a 20-minute version of “You Enjoy Myself”. Set two also included some of my all-time favorites, “Backwards Down the Number Line” and “Suzy Greenberg” and then Phish ultimately sent fans home with a well rounded “Slave to the Traffic Light”, an obvious wink at everyone having to return to the constraints of normal life again.
Although I wasn’t able to attend, I’ve really enjoyed living vicariously through the recordings and the “from the road” insta account. I know what seeing and hearing Phish live feels like and my imagination can fill the rest in with a beach backdrop and sand between my toes. Make sure to tune into my weekly Jam Band Hour show where I’ll be featuring most of the above throughout the next handful of shows. See you on the next jam!
(Host of Ben Jammin’ Jam Band Hour)