I was ten years old when the boys from Vermont unleashed what we know it as today…Island Tour ’98. Four shows spanning two states in the northeast. Long Island in New York and Providence in Rhode Island. But I’m sure many of you already know that. As Phish wrapped up a raging summer tour, everyone was already in full throttle with New Year’s rumors and possible fall tour plans. As the time got near, my mission was clear, and a 6-night run of shows was announced. A 3.0 island tour if you will. Starting right after Thanksgiving for two nights in Rhode Island, a Sunday show in Long Island with a 3-night cap in Charleston, South Carolina (they would later announce a one-night stand at the famed Philly Met).
Still wiping my eyes from my Thanksgiving food coma, I took the pilgrimage an hour south for the tour opener in Providence Rhode Island. As I met up with old and new friends alike a couple of hours before the show, it was hard not to feel the excitement and anticipation in the air. After all, Phish hadn’t played in Providence for almost a decade. Playing the Dunkin’ Donuts Center (originally Providence Civic Center) is an experience all on its own, the barn is used mostly for minor pro hockey and college hoops. I don’t believe many renovations have been done since the doors opened. At around 8pm, the house lights came down, and the fantastic 4 took the stage. Opening up with the Grammy-nominated “First Tube,” sending the crowd into a dancing frenzy. The tone was set for the night to come!! A bubble busting “The Final Hurrah” followed up by an inspiring “NICU” with an electric solo from the chairman of the boards. This first set was surely turning out to be a special one. Right when I was least expecting, A bust out of “Bye Bye Foot” last played in the summer of '97 at Deer Creek. While I’m sure some 3.0 phans had never heard the song, the jaded vets surely had some opinions on the matter, as one standing next to me wouldn’t shut the F*ck up about it! A funky “Gumbo” put that talking elder into a silent but happy dance circle. Wrapping the first set up with a fiery cover of Hendrix's “Fire,” leaving the crowd anxious for what wildness will unfold in set 2.
As the house lights dimmed once more, the crowd shouted and hollered with excitement as the opening chords and lyrics belted through the small arena. “LEE FORDHAM SOLD ME OUT” Lee himself having passed away this past May bringing even more meaning for the song as the band played on! (Lee actually never did sell out Trey, but the lyric was too cool to change) The rest of the second set was riddled with Phan favorites thicker than “Plasma,” which found its way three or so times throughout the set! Two of my personal high lights coming from a beautiful “Birds of a Feather” as well as the always rocking James Gang “Walk Away.” Setting the boys up for a beautiful 4 tune encore. Starting things off with “Meatstick” and finishing the first night off with “Bug,” Which will always have a special part in my heart as it was the encore to my first ever show in 2003.
The Final Hurrah
Scent of a Mule
No Men In No Man's Land
Back on the Train
Birds of a Feather
Set Your Soul Free>