Review and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson. See more of Kirsten’s photos from this show here.
The list of songs covered in improvisational fashion by Phish — from Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” to the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” — reaches into the hundreds after the band’s decades of touring.
On Saturday night during an unprecedented three-show run at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, the Vermont jam-pranksters played an even more cover-heavy performance than usual, starting with first-set versions of the Rolling Stones’ “Torn and Frayed,” Talking Heads’ “Cities” (whose “Psycho Killer” appeared the night before), Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times” and Frank Zappa’s instrumental “Peaches en Regalia” (which is rumored to cost Phish tens of thousands of dollars a play, per Zappa’s estate).
Violent Femmes’ 1980s hit “Blister in the Sun,” played by Phish for the first time since 1998, reappeared in phrases throughout the second set, which also included Stevie Wonder’s master funk jam “Boogie on Reggae Woman,” TV on the Radio’s “Golden Age,” Richard Strauss’ classical composition “Sprach Zarathustra” (best known in modern times for its use in Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey”) and a bombastic encore of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” dedicated to recently departed rapper MCA.
But the show began on a simpler note, with the four members of Phish — keyboardist Page McConnell, drummer Jon Fishman, guitarist Trey Anastasio and bassist Mike Gordon (left to right in photo below) — gathered around a microphone for an a cappella arrangement of their own tune, “Grind.”
(And yes, we probably would have traded all the covers listed above for ZZ Top’s dirty-boogie classic “La Grange,” which they played the following night.)
Josh Potter’s review at Metroland