First and foremost: Happy Holidays to you and yours!
With the New Year’s Eve run just over a week away, and 12.31.11 just beyond that, I wanted to provide a little encore to my three part MSG Preview that worked to recap a number of Phish’s covers from summer tour. For this encore performance, I figured no cover would be more timely than Auld Lang Syne. A song that represents the passing of time and transition could not be more fitting for Phish. The songs that follow Auld Lang Syne on any New Year’s Eve are an exclamation point on the night – and the entire year – of Phish.
Originating nearly two and a quarter centuries ago by Scots, Auld Lang Syne has been a staple of New Year’s Eve Phish shows since 1989. Rather than looking too deeply into the band’s history with the cover, let’s take a look at Auld Lang Syne’s landing pad and the spirit of the night. Let’s take a look, starting with 20 years ago in 1991:
1991 – Runaway Jim
In the middle of a well-played if typical 1991 set, Auld Lang Syne (ALS) segued well into the kind of Runaway Jim that was full of energy like most of the era. The real highlight of this show is well after the ALS, when the raucous Set III spotlights the show.
1992 – Weekapaug Groove
Keeping in mind the story of Weekapaug Groove and the goal of many on NYE, this is really a fitting song to follow ALS. Taking Hydrogen’s place in the Mike’s Groove sandwich at a time when Hydrogen was guaranteed is a preview of what was to come after Mike’s of the future.
1993 – Down with Disease Jam
The fantastic debut of a song, in jam form for now, that will become commonplace in the Phish catalog, a key jam vehicle and a regular visitor to the ALS landing pad position. With a monster Hood and crisp versions around, this show is a must have in any catalog, in part due to the debut of DWD out of ALS.
1994 – Tropical Hot Dog Night > Chalkdust Torture
Playing ALS whilst hanging from the rafters in a giant Hot Dog “complete with headlines” is both ridiculous and worthy of representation at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Closing the doors on the Boston Garden, Phish tore into Chalkdust as soon as the looney tunes portion of the ’94 NYE night came to a close. Obviously Tropical Hot Dog Night was appropriate.
1995 – Weekapaug
The [traditional] NYE show, 1995’s December 31st show is one of the greatest in the bands repetoire. After a huge Mike’s closed set II and with help from the Mad Science Experiment and ALS set III kicked off with Weekapaug in a big way. This 17:30+ version features ALS, Dreaming and Spooky teases before dropping into the melodic Sea and Sand. Thanks for December 1995, boys.
1996 – DWD
DWD’s return to the post-ALS position is another success. Ending an interesting year for Phish that ranged from Europe and trouble at Red Rocks to unique Fall ’96 shows, this DWD kick starts a high energy conclusion to the show that is bookmarked by the Boston Community Choir.
1997 – Tweezer
Immortalized for all to see in Bittersweet Motel, albeit to highlight some sort of artistic vision of the band at the time, Tweezer seems like a natural launch pad for the new year, yet only one show has featured it. The biggest shoutout for this Tweezer should probably go to the sound crew and the taper section.
1998 – Simple
After one of the highest-energy starts to an NYE show on record with 1999 and a great Mike’s Groove, this show set the stakes at the top from the start. A long Simple reaching over 18 minutes, there is Type I and Type II jamming that, in a way, highlights 98’s unique – if overlooked – sound.
1999 – DWD
Can you really talk about one moment from Big Cypress without talking about the event as a whole? If there’s anyone that gets a pass, it’s the return of the Hot Dog, the countdown, ALS, not dying from YIIK and the monster DWD that followed. Phish welcomed back their New Year’s Hot Dog stunt while welcoming in the New Millenium with some spacey keys from Trey and a segue into Llama.
2002 – Runaway Jim
Returning to the stage to launch Phish 2.0, the 2002 NYE show was a rarity. Not only was it the last of the year, it was also the first. With the band debuting Seven Below ahead of the NYE countdown, it was good to welcome in 2003 with Runaway Jim.
2003 – Iron Man > Runaway Jim
Keeping in mind that Iron Man seems like some sort of bizarre 2003 Phish 2.0 spur of the moment piece of ridiculousness, let’s jump ahead to another Runaway Jim. Not only does Runaway Jim find itself after ALS yet again, it’s a monster. 22 minutes of New Year’s steam blowing off.
2009 – DWD
Its fitting that the band’s return to the American Airlines Arena as part of their return to the stage in 2009 featured DWD post ALS. By far the longest jam of the bands Hampton reunion shows, DWD in Miami was a fitting cap on a year that brought out our dancing shoes for the first time in 5 years.
2010 – After Midnight
Again emerging out of Meatstick and the Hot Dog, 2010’s version of Auld Lang Syne transitioned into quite possibly the most appropriate song in the Phish catalog for the time slot – and a cover taboot! After Midnight lifted the energy through the hallowed halls of MSG and set the stage for 2011, notably the very next night.
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