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Phish Tries On “The Well”, Fish Tries On The

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Phish returned to Alpharetta, GA on Saturday and Sunday to round out a three-night stint at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre, the second stop on a 2023 summer tour that has quickly heated up with the rising July temperatures.

The tour’s first three nights (two in Alabama, one in Alpharetta) had already checked a number of boxes on fans’ summer wish lists—early-days rarities, strong new material, ample improvisation, lyrical experimentation—and Phish continued to raise the proverbial bar over the last two nights with a pair of standout performances.

Saturday’s first frame featured a tasteful mix of vintage Phish staples (a classic “Runaway Jim”/”Foam” opener, “Fluffhead”, “Esther”, a “Golgi Apparatus” closer) and weighty takes on newer mainstays (“Set Your Soul Free” and “Everything’s Right”). The tentpole “Tweezer” jam that stretched to 30 minutes in length on its first go and returned for a wink and a nod later in the night was the obvious headline from this (basically) five-song second set, though the sentimental “Golden Age”, the warp-speed echoes of “I Always Wanted It This Way”, and the sublime “Harry Hood” are not to be overlooked. Plus, a show-closing “Big Black Furry Creature From Mars” featuring an on-the-ground Trey Anastasio after the obligatory “Tweeprise” in the encore slot? Not bad, P-Fish. Not bad at all.

Phish – “Tweezer” [Pro-Shot] – 7/15/23

The first Sunday show of this young tour made good on ye olde saying about Sunday shows as fans in Georgia enjoyed an armload of stellar playing topped with a fistful of the “WTF” antics and inside-jokery that keeps folks coming back 40 summers down the line.

Amid a fun yet largely unremarkable opening half heavy on by-the-book basics (“Buried Alive”, “Wilson”, “NICU”, “Gumbo”, “Mountains In The Mist”, “Halfway To The Moon”), the band still tipped the scales toward the unknown with a particularly impactful “Limb by Limb”, an intrepid “Bathtub Gin” jam, a maddening “Split Open and Melt”, and the debut of a new Phish song: “The Well”.

The third new original song to enter the Phish repertoire this summer (following “Ether Edge” and “Oblivion“), this number straddled the line between the two “modes” of the band’s songwriting in the last decade or so, starting off in Big Boat-reminiscent “love and light” land before descending into Sci-Fi Soldier-style “Evil Phish” pandemonium. That combination made it the most enticing “New Phish” we’ve heard yet this summer, and we’re looking forward to exploring how dark and deep things can get at the bottom of “The Well” as the tour continues.

Phish – “The Well” (Debut) – 7/16/23

[Video: ChakaHahn]

Sunday’s set two was a winner from its very first notes. A “Carini” equal parts lovely and lively served as the meat in an opening “Mike’s Groove”, while a sprawling mid-set “Sand” made a strong case for itself as one of the top tracks of the tour.

The improv section of a late “Reba” was gorgeous and flowing, as beautiful as ever, but would prove to be only the second-most interesting “Reba”-related storyline from Sunday’s show.

When the band returned for its final Alpharetta curtain call without Jon Fishman and Trey took a seat behind the drum kit, it was clear that shenanigans were afoot. After Mike Gordon, Page McConnell, and Trey kicked into a smooth, moody progression, the guy in the dress finally sauntered onto the stage. Rather than picking up his trusty vacuum, as he has in so many similar situations, Fishman instead went for Trey’s Languedoc, stepping to center stage to handle guitar and lead vocals on the first-ever Phish cover of “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia”, the Southern Gothic murder ballad written by Bobby Russell in 1972, first recorded by Vicki Lawrence in 1973, and later revived by Reba McEntire in 1991.

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[Screengrab via LivePhish – Fish on guitar, Trey on drums for “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia”, 7/16/23]

Was Fish’s guitar solo good? Of course not. Was it fun? You bet. Any cringing from the crowd only seemed to energize Moses Brown/DeWitt/Heaps. From the band’s first gig at the ROTC dance in ’83 (see: “You paid us!!!”) through the summer of ’23, Jon Fishman has made an art form out of defiantly cringe-worthy antics, and we’ll always love him for it.

As “Hold Your Head Up” kicked in, “professional social-suicidist” Jon Fishman addressed the crowd: “You can tell your grandkids that you actually paid money to see that. I’m sorry, I really am. … Ahh… That’s so satisfying.”

Making sure not to leave things on too much of a “gold for nerds, what-the-shit-was-that for neophytes” tone, Trey dedicated the closing “You Enjoy Myself” to a guy in the crowd with a t-shirt bemoaning the fact that Georgia had gone 20 years without a YEM.

Scroll down to check out the full setlists from Saturday, 7/15/23 and Sunday, 7/16/23 in Alpharetta and view a gallery of photos from Sunday’s show via Emily Butler. Phish’s 2023 summer tour continues on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 18th and 19th at Wilmington, NC’s Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park. For tickets and a full list of tour dates visit Phish’s website.

Subscribe to LivePhish+ to listen to every show on the tour and browse an archive of live Phish recordings. To order your LivePhish webcasts for any of the band’s upcoming summer shows, head here.

Setlist: Phish [via phish.net] | Ameris Bank Amphitheatre | Alpharetta, GA | 7/15/23

Set One: Runaway Jim, Foam, Set Your Soul Free > Fluffhead > Everything’s Right > Esther > Golgi Apparatus

Set Two: Rift > Tweezer -> Golden Age > I Always Wanted It This Way > Tweezer > Harry Hood

Encore: A Life Beyond The Dream > Tweezer Reprise > Big Black Furry Creature from Mars

Notes: Trey teased The Lion Sleeps Tonight in the first Tweezer.

Setlist [via phish.net]: Phish | Ameris Bank Amphitheatre | Alpharetta, GA | 7/16/23

Set One: Buried Alive > Wilson > NICU, Bathtub Gin, Gumbo, Limb By Limb > The Well [1], Mountains in the Mist, Halfway to the Moon, Split Open and Melt

Set Two: Mike’s Song > Carini > Weekapaug Groove, Sand > Reba, More

Encore: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia [2] > Hold Your Head Up [3], You Enjoy Myself

[1] Phish debut.
[2] Phish debut; Fish on guitar.
[3] Fish on guitar.

Notes: This show featured the Phish debuts of The Well and The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia (the latter and HYHU featuring Fish on guitar). You Enjoy Myself was played for a fan who had a shirt stating Phish had not played a YEM in Georgia in 20 years. Jon Fishman played guitar on The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia



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