On Friday night, Phish continued their 2019 trip south of the border with their second of three performances in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
After the band turned expectations on their heads on night one with a slew of long-lost tunes including a show-opening bust-out of “Spock’s Brain”, it was anyone’s guess as to how Phish would begin their second Mexican show. However, it’s probably safe to say that nobody expected what did start the night: The first “You Enjoy Myself” show opener since 7/9/03. While this rendition contained a handful of flubs and saw Mike Gordon amusingly head to his trampoline a few bars early, it’s tough to nitpick a show-opening “YEM” on a tropical beach.
After the “YEM” vocal jam faded out, the band picked back up with Kasvot Växt favorite “Turtle In The Clouds”, marking its third-ever Phish performance after its Halloween debut and a showing at Madison Square Garden over New Year’s run. It was clear the band was excited to be playing this new material, and that enthusiasm carried over into the song’s choreographed Mike Gordon and Trey Anastasio dance and the nice musical crescendo that followed.
A compact “46 Days” followed, as Page McConnell and Gordon helped propel the rocker toward a ripping guitar peak. “No Men In No Man’s Land”, one of Phish’s go-to vehicles in the last few years, made its Mexican appearance next. The band worked through a tight, quick-paced, effects-heavy funk jam before easing into a brooding vamp and, in turn, back into the thick funk of “No Men”. After briefly shifting into some melodic major key space, Jon Fishman‘s drums signaled the start of “Emotional Rescue”, the first Phish rendition of the Rolling Stones classic since the “Fuck Your Face” show at Dick’s back in 2012 and just their sixth rendition overall.
From there, the band kicked into yet another excellent jammed-out “Tube”, continuing the improv Renaissance the song has experienced as of late with some a driving groove propelled by Gordon and Fishman, who was back in his usual dress after showing off his snappy new green donuts on Thursday night. A “Shade” breather came next before a particularly maniacal “Saw It Again” featuring unhinged howls from Trey and Fishman and Haunted House scream samples from Page brought the first set to a close.
For the second night in a row, a newer-vintage “Soul” song took the set two opener slot. “Set Your Soul Free” has quickly cemented its standing as a reliable jam vehicle. This version was no different, as the band pushed into a number of distinct spaces from “No Quarter”-like organ tremors to sinister wails from Trey. A “Piper”-like motif began to appear around the jam’s 17-minute mark as Trey dialed in some soaring sustain. Things patiently built from there toward a stop-start segment featuring some obligatory “woos” from the crowd. “Set Your Soul Free” continued with watery Baker’s Dozen style ambiance before Anastasio drove the 26+ minute exploration home with a towering guitar peak.
While the biggest jam of the night was finished, Phish made it clear that they had plenty of improvisational creativity left in the tank with the “Mercury” that followed. Much like the song’s last two appearances in Las Vegas and on New Year’s Eve in New York City, the Mexico “Mercury” pushed its way out into the cosmos, stretching out past the 22-minute mark behind focused playing by all four band members. The newer composition has now been played 17 times, with nearly half of those appearances coming after the beginning of 2018 and several resulting in multiple-relisten-worthy jams. At this point, it’s safe to expect “Mercury” to continue to be a staple set centerpiece going forward—a prospect that should excite any Phish fan.
After nearly 50 minutes of tight improv courtesy of “Set Your Soul Free” and “Mercury”, Phish moved into a well-received mid-set “Slave To The Traffic Light” to keep things moving on a lighter, prettier note. By this point, the remainder of the six-song second set was all gravy, as Phish moved through a fun (if somewhat unremarkable) rendition of “Possum”, a “Sanity” whose intro Trey amusingly botched before righting course and adding some amusing ad-libs with Fishman (“Kablooee!”; “Wham-o!”; etc.), and an always-welcome sing-along “Walk Away” closer.
Phish finally returned to the stage for a “More” encore. While considerably less interesting than the “Waste”/”Bold As Love” curtain call combo from the previous night, the masses on the beach were no doubt vibrating with love and light as they watched the band cap yet another great performance beside the ocean.
Phish is set to close out their 2019 trip to Mexico with their third and final show this evening, and there are still more than enough heavy-hitters on the list of remaining songs to make for one more incredible show. If the last two nights are any indication, fans can feel very good about the prospects of live Phish in 2019.
Setlist: Phish | Riviera Maya, Mexico | 2/22/19
Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico
SET 1: You Enjoy Myself, Turtle in the Clouds, 46 Days, No Men In No Man’s Land, Emotional Rescue, Tube, Shade, Saw It Again
SET 2: Set Your Soul Free, Mercury, Slave to the Traffic Light, Possum, Sanity, Walk Away