First of all, thank you LawnMemo for giving me the opportunity to write about the Bend shows. This tour opening run was magical and I can’t wait for the Gorge shows this summer!
Bend, Oregon in July. A perfect setting to open the 2015 Summer tour. A small amphitheater tucked up against the Deschutes River, perfect weather, and our favorite band chomping at the bit to play.
Trey was less than a month removed from taking the helm at lead guitar for the Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well shows in Santa Clara and Chicago. Fans were eager to see how the Dead shows would influence his playing with Phish, and the tour opener in Bend was the first taste we got of the new sound.
The first night saw the debut of “Blaze On”, “Shade” and “No Men In No Man’s Land”. “Blaze On” had a familiar feeling from the start, and instantly became a fan favorite. “No Men In No Man’s Land” showed great potential as a jam vehicle and highlighted Trey’s evolved sound he developed during Fare the Well. [No Men https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Night 2 saw one more new song debut with “Mercury”. We had placed bets on what we thought the name of this song would be after they soundchecked it for about an hour the day before. We could hear the soundcheck loud and clear from our hotel directly next to the venue. Guesses included “Painted in Vermillion” and “The Red Queen”. No one got it right.
Perhaps the jam of the Bend run came late in the second set when the band launched into “Simple.” Clocking in at just over 14 minutes, this “Simple” goes places any “Simple” could only hope to go. In the middle of a second set “Simple” jam is one of the finest places on the planet to be, and we were in it.
“Simple” starts just as it always does, awesomely. Page manages to sneak in a “Magilla” tease during the song portion of the song. The jam begins rather standard until things settle a bit. Mike pounds the fight bell around 7:00, and it’s on. Fishman and Gordo mold a nice groove, Page adds some layers and Trey holds back at first. Around 8:15 Trey comes in and immediately gets to work, discovering a melodic lead line as things begin to pick up pace. A lead line so tasty that it would make David Gilmour weep tears of joy.
Around 9:05 Trey finds a chord progression that would serve as backbone of the remainder of the jam. Page starts to layer some synthesizer loops, and Trey continues to explore chord progression. Meanwhile, Gordo is exploring some cool bass lines.
Trey finds a smooth as silk lead line at 11:15 and exploits it for all it has to offer. Soaring higher and higher, Trey carefully bends his way up the fret board, with lead notes that sound akin to 7/10/99 “Chalkdust Torture.”
This “Simple” is concise and patient, building to a magnificent peak lead by Treys soaring guitar. It is exactly what the doctor ordered late in the ballgame on the second night of a two night stand. Every Phish I attend is a privilege and I find it tough to complain about anything, but this “Simple” jam gave us a jam we could really sink our teeths into. Up until this point the band hasn’t really broken lose and this jam gave what we were looking for. This is why we spend countless time and money to attend a show.