Oh, What a Night!

On the last night of the Summer 2009 tour, Harpua returned in the midst of a solid second set in Saratoga.  This wasn’t a “standard” version — if such a thing exists — but one that will be remembered for being more than just the first one since the start of Phish 3.0.  Coming in as a change of pace after the jamming in Rock and Roll, this Harpua started as all good stories do:  with some oom pa pas.

After working through the initial verses Trey addressed the SPAC crowd for the first full story song since their return, the hilarity of the Hartford Icculus two nights prior not withstanding.  With the happiness of it clear in his voice, Trey voiced what many there were thinking by repeating the phrase “Oh what a night” twice and then giving thanks to the crowd for a great tour before speaking about his time living in the area in the well-publicized recent past.  Trey then easily wove in our old friend Jimmy by relating that he had  made friends with him during his time in Saratoga. 

The story that followed was clearly a reflection of sorts for Trey as he spoke about how just like everybody else Jimmy has his ups and downs and that he was going through a bit of a rough patch at that time.  He meditated and even called on his spirit guide which brings us to the divergent aspect of this Harpua.  Instead of this being another story about Poster Nutbag and the never ending feud with Harpua we were treated to a short middle aged man in a dress imparting his wisdom to Jimmy in the form of song. 

Now, Fishman has always had a penchant for singing songs that one wouldn’t necessarily pick out for him, which seems to add to the ridiculousness of the affair.  In this case, the song that he sung to guide Jimmy along was the pop song “I Kissed A Girl” popularized by Katy Perry.  A funny choice to be sure, but somehow fitting for Fishman in an odd way.  This was followed by the brief HYHU jam that usually accompanies Fishman’s ventures out to the front of the stage.  Trey remarked that the key thing to take away from the song was that “it felt so wrong” while Fishman offered no apologies to Katy Perry for his song choice.

Returning to the Harpua theme, the band went right into the “Dog in the Station” section with no mention of any fight between Poster and Harpua.  It wouldn’t have really fit with how the song had gone to this point but this was taking the song away from it’s typical form.  Granted, ascribing a form to Harpua isn’t very easy to do, but we usually end up hearing about the terrible fight between these two adversaries.  The playing on this version was just as it has been throughout Phish 3.0, which is to say that the band is clearly practicing a lot and having fun on stage.  The simple fact that they feel comfortable breaking out some of the rarer songs in their catalog speaks to the renewed energy and joy apparent in the boys.


So what do we have here?  This is a song people had been calling for all summer and it is clear that Harpua was saved for this night and venue.  Saratoga has a history of great shows for Phish but now even more so with the history it holds for Trey and everything that happened with that.  I don’t want to read too much into the narrative but Trey was clearly projecting himself a bit into the story by talking about how not every day is a good day and finding ways to cope with that whether through meditation or calling on your spirit guide.  More than anything, this version of Harpua shows that the humor is back and they are having fun being on stage together again.  The fact that Trey used Jimmy as a means of relaying a brief glimpse into what he had gone through shows that he is in a good place with this and is able to poke a little fun at it too.  I don’t think it is a stretch to think that it won’t be too long before we hear another Harpua, what with Halloween coming along in just over a month.  At that point we will probably be reacquainted with Poster and Harpua and maybe another visit from a certain spirit guide.


Note:  I am working on embedding the audio for this version and setting things up for this going forward.  I’ll get it added to this post as soon as I cough up the dough for the extra space on wordpress.  Video of this version can be found here: (part 1) (part 2).  There are other versions on youtube as well, shot from other parts of the venue.

~ by TIIIJPD on September 24, 2009.

2 Responses to “Oh, What a Night!”

  1. Congrats on your first post!

  2. It would be funny to have Harpua played during the first night at 8 as we would have 2 Harpuas in 2 consecutive shows !

    Nice blog with a nice theme !
    I will follow your work as I started my blog almost at the same time as you 😉

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