Phish Drizzles The Garden With Sugary Goodness
Words by Matt Jackson
Tonight at Madison Square Garden marks night 9 in Phish’s Baker’s Dozen run. The donut flavor for the show was maple glaze with cinnamon icing drizzle conjuring images of Maple Syrup, Maple Trees, Maple flavored Bacon… the possibilities seem endless. Any curiosity was quickly rewarded with the opener, an instrumental version of Canada’s national anthem “O Canada. Okay, some low hanging fruit here, but the crowd clearly approved, as I’m sure many Canuck Phish-heads did.
They go right into a well executed “Crowd Control,” then, keeping with the sweet treat theme of the night, delivered to the crowd the “maple steam” of “Sugar Shack.” While I’m sure many we’re hoping that the “Shack” would move into the Type II neck of the woods like so many random set one songs have this run, alas, it was not to be as they moved right into “When the Circus Comes.” Next came “Daniel Saw the Stone” followed by the Page McConnell written “Army of One” with more references to trees and mountains and the cold arctic, all typical Canadian landscape features.
A sloppy intro to “Guelah Papyrus” lead us to our next use of tonight’s theme with Page soloing the old jazz traditional “Maple Leaf Rag,” then back into “Papyrus.” The crowd welcomed a “McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters” followed by a solid rendition of “Limb by Limb” (more trees!) and closing the set with a short but emphatic “Walk Away.” With as many thematic references as the guys could throw in, the set was relatively short, clocking in at 67 minutes, as not a single song was explored with much depth musically.
Set two opened with “Golden Age” that wasted no time rewarding the crowd and getting to IT. The 20-minute opener transitioned into “Leaves” for just the second time in the song’s history, whose quiet opening quickly continued with the high energy set so far. We enter bust out territory with “Swept Away” into “Steep” which hasn’t been played since July 8, 20112 at SPAC. Setlist enthusiasts out there will surely have noticed the opening trio of “Golden Age” > “Leaves” > “Swept Away,” clearly a nod to the stunning fall Maple Tree foliage adorning the Vermont countryside. The Billy Breathe’s duo, according to Phish.net, was frequently used the pairing as a second-set… breather in the fall of 1996 and the spring of 1997. Any rest the song provided was short lived as “Steep” led into the second jam of the night worthy enough to enjoy under the Northern Lights (…is he really still going with this?).
“46 Days” brings the crowd back to earth but not for long as the funk set in with a sweet Page/Mike and Fish drizzle as Trey made his way back to the Marimba. This was followed next by Mike and Page as all 4 huddled around the kit with the Dozen’s first percussion jam, last seen at last year’s NYE run.
The band returned and continued with the spacey vibe that’s dominated the second set segueing into “Piper” that wastes no time with the buildup, going straight into a sweet and sugary, blissful latter half. The band moves back into spacey territory that saw “46 Days” lyrics teased until the lead into the set closing “Possum.”
David Bowie’s “Rock N’ Roll Suicide” would serve as the night’s lone encore, the first time it has been played since last year’s unforgettable Halloween show in Las Vegas. Phish returns to MSG tomorrow night for NIGHT 10 of the Baker’s Dozen.
Phish @ Madison Square Garden, New York, NY — 8/1/17
Set I: O Canada , Crowd Control, Sugar Shack, When the Circus Comes, Daniel Saw the Stone, Army of One, The Wedge, Guelah Papyrus, Maple Leaf Rag  > Guelah Papyrus, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters  > Limb By Limb > Walk Away
Set II: Golden Age, Leaves, Swept Away > Steep > 46 Days > Piper, Possum
Encore: Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide