Severe storms pushed the start time of Friday night’s Phish show at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park back to 10:00 p.m. and prompted a statement from the band that, “there will be no set break tonight, just one long-ass set.” This is the second time storms have forced a one-set Phish show this summer, but while it put an arguable damper on the vibe in Michigan, this night in Colorado would find the band bottling that pre-show lightning and firing it right back.
Doors have re-opened at @DSGpark and the show will begin as soon as we possibly can. There will be no set break tonight, just one long-ass set. Thanks for your understanding!
— Phish (@phish) September 3, 2022
The ”Carini” opener was their way of saying there was no time to lose, and Trey Anastasio reiterated that by starting the jam with a slight exploration through teases of Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”. Things modulated to some major phrasings before breaking into a sparser, darker cove which somehow ended up in “You Enjoy Myself”.
This “YEM” was on the slower side, as some have tended to lean this year, but the form faltered in places due to the questionable speed this time. The jam more than made up for it, though—well extended and complete with a “Flashlight” tease from Mike Gordon during his bass breakdown.
The new tradition of an additional, post-vocal-jam/funk-reprise-jam in “YEM” continued and then nudged itself seamlessly into “Ghost”—a move that came off as if Trey had been hiding it up his sleeve for a while. This “Ghost” jam went the triumphant route, like it was the background music for slow-motion football highlights from the ’70s. Eventually it found a ginger landing in “Julius”.
9/2/22 Commerce City, CO 📸 Rene Huemer pic.twitter.com/XxSmPJk51I
— Phish: From The Road (@Phish_FTR) September 3, 2022
After decades of tremendous service as a set closer, “Julius” has really been riding the bench as of late. In fact, over the past four years, it’s only been played once every 16 shows. It didn’t do anything out of the ordinary here, but felt great purely as its absence has made the heart grow fonder.
The subsequent “Reba” felt ideally placed and seemed poised to go big, and this one would go huge. It was ferocious enough for Jon Fishman to almost miss Trey’s call for the ending, but the quick save showed that his Spidey Sense was in fine form. When they subsequently moved into “Tube”, there came a sweeping realization that this set was starting to be something special.
There was a cool stutter-step in the pocket of the “Tube” jam right from the get-go. It moved with determination, skipping on top of Mike Gordon’s deep, meditative paths and locking into a dark world that was mirrored perfectly by Chris Kuroda’s web of demon-pulsings on stage.
“Tweezer” would come next, because why not just play all the heavy hitters in one set? This version felt extra punchy from the start, skipping lively in the spaces between the vocals. Early in the jam, Trey introduced a little three-half-step riff that, depending on the weight of your soul, either instantly reminds you of the jam-riff in “Destiny Unbound” or the backing line to “They Love Each Other”. All four members played off it at different points, taking a fun exercise and evolving it into something full of intrigue—truly the music of accomplished knuckleheads.
The jam eventually decompressed into “What’s the Use?”, and despite it being overplayed in the modern era, if it really could ever be overplayed, this one felt like a natural step from the deconstruction of “Tweezer” rather than the abrupt landing pad it has sometimes been. The breakdown reached absolute silence for a few seconds, akin to a “Divided Sky” pause, which gave it a little extra pinch of the divine.
Phish – “Tweezer” -> “What’s The Use?” [Pro-Shot] – 9/2/22
A ”Mike’s”-less “Weekapaug Groove” came up next, another once-but-no-longer-rare happening. It turned precisely into “No Men In No Men’s Land”, which would turn out to be the only song from the entire show that debuted after 2003. But acknowledging the course of the night, the “exposed to all the elements” line seemed quite apropos. “No Men” would turn equally as perfectly back into the end of “Weekapaug” to complete the Paug sandwich.
As the set inched closer to midnight, “Moonage Daydream” started up for what seemed like the potential set closer. It’s great to see the band making sure this Ziggy Stardust tune doesn’t slip to the back of the shelf, and there were some heavy reverb layers on Trey’s vocals here that elevated the entire feel to something it hadn’t reached so strongly before. After doing his best Mick Ronson impersonation, the good lieutenant fired up a quick “Chalkdust Torture” to end the set properly.
The elusive “Pebbles and Marbles” walked into the encore slot, never veering too far off course but taking the set officially into Saturday morning. It would serve as the representative 2.0 song of the evening and the perfect alley-oop set-up for the impending “Tweezer Reprise”. The amount of joy pouring off Trey during this “Tweeprise” would have made you think that he just received a new box of cabana wear. Who’s to blame him though—this set deserved a celebration dance.
9/2/22 Commerce City, CO 📸 Rene Huemer pic.twitter.com/D3owEyoYih
— Phish: From The Road (@Phish_FTR) September 3, 2022
While it may have lacked that one definitive jam that could have elevated the set to the upper echelon of Phish gigs, there’s no doubt that the overall flow and cohesiveness of the show was performed at a peak that hasn’t quite been logged yet this summer. And on paper, the setlist was about as dreamy as one could ask for. Could this finally be the consensus show of the year? Nah, of course not. This is Phish. Complete agreement would cause it all to fall apart, but it’s going to be hard for anyone to argue against this one.
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Setlist [via phish.net]: Phish | Dick’s Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, CO | 9/02/2022
Set 1: Carini > You Enjoy Myself -> Ghost > Julius, Reba, Tube > Tweezer > What’s the Use? > Weekapaug Groove -> No Men In No Man’s Land > Weekapaug Groove > Moonage Daydream > Chalk Dust Torture
Encore: Pebbles and Marbles, Tweezer Reprise
Notes: This show started late and consisted of only one set due to a lengthy delay following a thunderstorm. Carini’s lyrics were changed to “at least he had some boots” in reference to streaker who ran out onto the field during the weather delay wearing only a pair of boots. Trey teased Streets of Cairo during Tweezer.