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Concert Reviews:
Phish heats up a chilly night at DTE

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2014

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Returning to the stage for Phish's encore on Wednesday night, July 16, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, keyboardist Page McConnell noted that the band "had a lot of fun. We hope you've had a good time."

How could you not?

As probably the most direct descendent of the Grateful Dead's Deadhead culture during the past 20 years, Phish and it's audience successfully collaborate in turning the Vermont quartet's shows into multi-sensory adventures, with the band providing a soundtrack for the party in the seats (or, in DTE's case, on the lawn) and in the parking lot. The plethora of out-of-state license plats on Wednesday attested to the following, literally, that's part and parcel of the Phish experience, and the Phishheads, many colorfully attired, carrying signs and tossing glow sticks into the air, made sure the summer night party was a hot event even though the temperatures outside were more like autumn.

Phish, meanwhile, delivered it's part of the program, a generous 24-song set that stretched over two sets and two hour and 45 minutes of expansive, often improvised music dominated by long and unapologetically indulgent instrumental excursions -- which is exactly what fans came to hear.

There's a new album to promote this year, "Fuego," and Phish got to that early with the rootsy "Devotion to a Dream" following the opening "Wolfman's Brother." The jazz-flavored "The Line" and the soulful "Waiting All Night" were welcomed to the set list like established favorites, while the title track was sandwiched in between two parts of an epic rendition of the longtime staple "Tweezer."

Phish bounced through its' catalog the rest of the night, with guitarist Trey Anastasio, as usual, dominating the spotlight -- though bassist Mike Gordon delivered his solo track "Yarmouth Road" and McConnell vamped through the doo-woppy "Lawn Boy." The first set was peppered with highlights such as "Wilson," "Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan," "Rift" and "46 Days," while most of the second set was presented as a non-stop suite as the easy-grooving, Gordon-sung "Mike's Song" led -- with mostly smooth but occasionally haphazard transitions -- into "Ghost," "Prince Caspian," a particularly buoyant "Backwards Down the Number Line," "Weekapaug Groove," "Cavern" and the hyper-speed "Piper."

a rendition of Deodato's disco "2001: A Space Odyssey" theme and "Possum" closed the night, with little of the usual early departures to beat the traffic -- simply because you never know quite what Phish is going to do at any given moment, and for a true Phishhead it usually pays off.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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