Has it really been ten years? The plan was to post a little piece about the two shows a bald version of myself saw Phish play at the SFX Centre in Dublin in June of ’97, notable for the 13 new songs they tried out on the tiny, Guinness-drunk crowd (Ghost, Twist, Velvet Sea, and Piper among them.) You could tell the band felt there was little at stake, which led to the kind of relaxed excursions that would blossom into full-fledged intergalactic space funk by the time they returned to the U.S. for a now-legendary Fall tour. But we already missed the anniversary by a few weeks, and it turns out that my audience recordings, stashed in a back corner of the closet, haven’t aged all that well.
So instead, here’s a tasty old chestnut I came across digging for the Dublin tapes, unavailable on YouTube until today: the first time Phish shared the stage with Neil Young, during the Farm Aid broadcast in 1998. (They would play together again at Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit.) Willie Nelson, Paul Schaffer, and four unidentified Native Americans joined for the big finale. The setlist:
10/3/98, New World Music Theater, Tinley Park, IL
Birds of Feather, Farmhouse, Moma Dance, Runaway Jim -> Arc* -> Down By the River*, Moonlight in Vermont*, Will the Circle Be Unbroken*, Amazing Grace*, Uncloudy Day*
You can download the set from etree, and there is a nicely mastered DVD going around the torrent networks, too. Here’s the centerpiece, a twenty-minute Down By the River featuring Pepe Le Pew Anastasio and Neil playing Trey’s backup Languedoc. In the immortal words of the CMT commentator, “That was, uh, quite a jam.”
Update: I uploaded the rest of the set to YouTube. Follow the links in the setlist to watch, or head straight for the playlist.