Phish Show Review - 4/20/22 New York, NY
My first MSG show
Phish returned to the World’s Most Famous Arena last night for the first night of their rescheduled 2021 New Year’s run with a really fun and slightly uneven show.
It being my first time inside MSG, I was filled with an incredible amount of anticipation as the lights went down just after 8:00.
Wasting no time, Trey led the band into an expansive Carini that set the tone for the night with some great laid-back major key jamming. Seemingly resisting the pull of the dark and weird despite Page’s synth playing, the band led the jam smoothly into the intro to Possum. There were a couple of moments during Carini where the sold-out crowd erupted with energy, just experiencing the sheer joy of seeing Phish at MSG once again after two and a half years.
A nicely jammed and unfinished rendition of The Moma Dance came next, continuing its run of impressive versions that started last summer, before the band took a breather with Leaves and Strange Design. I was incredibly happy to hear the latter – I had not seen it at a show before!
Stash came next as the penultimate song of the set and immediately took an atypical direction to the jam with Fish utilizing a galloping beat on the hi-hat as Trey flexed his tension-building chops. While not a crazy long rendition, clocking in around 12 minutes, it was still a compact and powerful jam that sets it apart from typical versions of the song.
The set closed with a nod to the date and a very straightforward Blaze On.
Coming out for the second set, the band lit into Sigma Oasis at a nice and laid-back pace. Delivering its classic rock vibe, Page hit the Rhodes during the jam and sent beautiful washes of phaser-drenched electric piano out across the arena. The band wasted no time after a slightly flubbed Down with Disease and took it out for a huge jam. Like the first set’s Carini, it stayed within the major-key realm for the most part. Propelled by Fish’s unrelenting beat, Page continued to shine on both Rhodes and synth textures as Trey built the jam up to a raging peak ahead of a somewhat rocky return to the song’s conclusion. Any apprehension I may have had at the flub was quickly replaced with excitement at witnessing my first live finished Down with Disease.
A romp through Sci-Fi Soldier track The Howling came ahead of a rocking Twist that featured the second significant “micro-jam” of the night. A tender and beautiful Mountains in the Mist came next, the band shining on a mellow and quiet rendition of one of my favourite ballads before a late-second set Reba. While this was not the cleanest composed section I’ve heard from them, the jam was absolutely gorgeous and patient, seeming to stretch on forever as Trey led the band to peak after peak. Ghosts of the Forest rocker Drift While You’re Sleeping closed the set with a fiery ending (and a nod to my podcast ;) ) ahead of a Gumbo > Slave to the Traffic Light encore.
While the first night may not have been the mind-blowing affair many were hoping for, it showed us that the band is ready to have a good time this week as they settle back into their home turf at MSG. Amid some slop in composed sections were some very fantastic jam segments that I expect to be surpassed many times over in the coming nights.
Also worth noting is that each of the band members’ setups are on wheeled risers for easier mobility WHICH MEANS we are likely getting a New Year’s gag with a different stage setup on 4/22!
On to the next – tonight is the 12/30 of the run and I can’t wait to see what Phish has in store for us!