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Live Reviews

Phish: Saratoga Springs, New York: July, 6-8 2012

By Published: July 28, 2012
"My Soul" is regarded, in Phish lore, as the signpost of the most ambitious, memorable nights of musicianship, not to mention the closest bonding with the audience, so its appearance early in the evening of July 8th was an omen of things to come in the form of deeper explorations on "Foam" and, especially, "Split Open and Melt," where the ever-increasing intricacy and ingenuity of Anastasio's guitar playing became wholly apparent (not mention the stamina he shared with his comrades).

As if not to let things get too serious, but also to prove Phish can play the blues, a flashback to the club days appeared in the form of ZZ Top's "La Grange," rendered somewhat tongue-in-cheek, yet nastily enough to rival the little ol' band from Texas itself. The second set began more than loudly and abruptly enough in the form of "Axilla," to grab the attendees' attention, after which Phish interwove the expansive likes of "Light" and "Piper," with interpolations of "Free," "Harry Hood" and "David Bowie." The coup de grace came in the form of a twenty-plus minute encore of "You Enjoy Myself."

The definitive jamband of our times thereby rendered familiar material fresh, testing its mettle in the spontaneity of the moment through nearly two hours of more continuous playing, ultimately making the case, in no uncertain terms, that Phish is a band intent on taking chances, in ways small and large, every time it takes the stage. Little wonder each of the four, in their own inimitable way, displayed such beatific smiles and grins of delight as the roar of the crowd rained down on them at the end of each of these midsummer shows. They knew they had earned that acclamation from their idolatrous but demanding fans.

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