Nashville Got Hit with a One-Two Combo for the Ages. Kingphish and Phish. 10/18-19/ 2016 : By Greg Heffelfinger

  Phish pulls off another historic show in Nashville and then follows it up with a show full of old and new songs that helped the people that missed the first show still feel good about Hood.
The magic was in the air the second time Phish stepped onto the stage at Ascend. Last year was the rebirth of the "Second Mike's Jam" this year it was much more special. Special enough for Bob Weir to cancel a show of his tour the night they overlapped. Everybody was talking about the "Walking Blues" soundcheck, so we knew Bob was in the building, we just didn't know how much Weir we were going to get. But let's start at the beginning, shall we?
 The first set was a great high energy affair. Once you hear "Sand" and "2001" in the first set, you know you're in for a hot show. The show started with a nice "Chalkdust Torture" and a standard "Blaze On" but then out came the "Ghost". It was a nice dark turn that I loved and it was a surprise since it was played a few days before. This is when the show started to take off for me and the people I was around. I managed to slip by the security guards the first night with no problems at all. The second night was completely different. They had five to eight staff on each gate and did ticket checks during the show. I would like to think it was because I streamed so much but I'm kind of arrogant. After the funk, Page pulled out the second "Lawn Boy" at Ascend. Following the cheese was a rocking "Halley's'Comet" that went into a dark, exploratory "Sand". Then the inevitable new song from their latest effort,Big Boat, "Tide Turns" was a nice surprise. I didn't like it over summer when they put it in Mike's Groove but in a good first set spot it is a winner. The crowd enjoyed it too. The funk from "46 Days" kicked up and kept the crowd dancing into "Breath and Burning" which is as good live as I thought it would be. The first set was closed down by a always solid "Limb by Limb", followed by a standard "Cavern" before the set closed with a rare first set version of "2001" that was fiery and gorgeous. I said all that to say it was a good-very good opening set. Then the magic happened.
The boys threw up a nice "Julius" and then a, no pun intended, hot "Fuego". Followed up by "My Friend, My Friend" that felt kind of rushed, I now know that was excitement brewing. Who would ever think that Bob Weir would play for almost an hour with Phish. The crowd cheered as Bobby walked on but the first licks of "Samson and Delilah" blew the metaphorical roof off the place. I was going nuts, trying to stream and hold still with one hand and the other half of my body dancing hard. Then it just kept getting better, every one who cares knows the songs now. Samson, West LA, Playin',etc. But the real story was the actual playing Bob did during "Twist". He was making real contributions and was completely present and it was a wonderful treat. The real surprise, however, was "Miss You" and don't get me wrong, I like the Phish version. Still, Bobby's voice gave it so much soul and heart that was the definitive version of the song for me. After a whole Playin' with the reprise, the band triumphantly walked off. Then, Mike got his turn to sing with a song that both bands have a long history of playing, "Quinn the Eskimo" and as the lights came on and I looked around, everyone was just standing there with their mouths' open. Not one person headed for the door for at least a minute or so. Or at least it felt that way. And the first night goes into the history books...
"Miss You" sung by Bob
Night two at Ascend was a different affair. Since Bob was safely in the Ryman, everyone knew it was going to be all Phish tonight. I planned on hearing a "Tweezer" or a "YEM" and I got the former. It was a nice late 90's opener with "Theme" then deeper into the catalog with "Camel Walk", which I always love, but this version was particularly bass-heavy and super funky. We're off to a good start.After a surprisingly hot "My Soul" Trey slammed on the breaks with another "Petrichor". I guess since he played it with the symphony in Nashville he felt the need to play it for the third time in five shows. If you like it that's great but it's rapidly turning into another "Time Turns Elastic", it just killed the momentum the show had been building. I never though I would be so thankful for "Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan" but I was dancing again and so were all the people around me.  "Waking up Dead" is a great song to hear live. I am really happy with how the new songs are turning out and they soundchecked the one I really wanted to hear, "I Always Wanted it the Way" but alas, it didn't get the call. Instead we got the debut of "Running Out of Time" which killed the momentum of the show almost as bad as the song that shall not be named. Luckily, a well-played and stretched out "Tube" came out before one of my favorite Phish covers, "Shine a Light". I saw it's debut and now three times since and I love this song so much that when the lights went up I was still blissful. 
Maybe it was being near the back of the lawn or just being up for a really long time but I started flagging at half time. I was about done, hadn't slept for 40 hours and three drives from Memphis to Nashville and I was beat.  But then, they opened the second half with another of my favorite covers, "Golden Age". Trey had some trouble with the lyrics but the groove was deep for this on. Ascend has a beautiful sound. There are huge speakers halfway up the lawn and the delay is perfect so that the sound is so clear with plenty of volume at the top. I know it's a small venue but the sound guy had his game face on tonight.  "Tweezer" came out to play next and I thought it was kind of mellow but maybe I need to re-listen because the "No Men in No Man's Land" was smoking. They've really let this song wander and have found some great jams in it. Definitely, a winner on the new album. This was followed by the TAB song, "Plasma" and I felt the energy leave the venue again. Maybe if I was listening to a stream it sounded good but when you can hear all the conversations around you, it means the band lost the audience. I liked the song when I heard it at a TAB show but I feel like it was an awkward choice of songs and placement.  Luckily, a playful and deep "Harry Hood" got everyone back in the groove with a section that had the band and the audience playing with each other, it was a unique jam that I had never heard them do before. This was followed by the standard closer, "Suzy G" and that was that. I don't think anything could have topped the first show short of Jack White or some other guest come out for the encore. After the dancing through the movements of "Walls of the Cave", of course, the notes of Tweeprise rang out and ended a historic run in Nashville. Both shows had their high points, obviously Bob Weir in the first one but the second had some incredible playing but was hamstrung by songs with long instrumental passages that slowed the momentum. Still, I've never seen a bad Phish show and had a great time the last two nights. I'm glad I was able to live stream KingPhish for you guys. I really appreciated all the kind words. Stay tuned for the next review from Atlanta. 

Greg Heffelfinger

Soundcheck: Jam, Blues Jam, Tide Turns, Petrichor, Walking Blues
ENCOREQuinn the Eskimo[2]
This show featured the Phish debut of Samson and Delilah and Playing in the Band. West L.A. Fadeaway was last played October 6, 2000 (383 shows). Samson and Delilah through Playing in the Band featured Bob Weir on guitar. Weir also sang vocals on Samson and Delilah, Miss You, and West L.A. Fadeaway. The soundcheck's Blues Jam featured a verse of Funky Bitch from Trey and Walking Blues featured Weir on vocals.
This show featured the debut of Running Out of Time. Mike teased the theme from The Godfather prior to Golden Age. Trey teased Woman From Tokyo in Suzy Greenberg. The soundcheck's I Always Wanted It This Way included Immigrant Song quotes from Trey and Fish. 



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