Phish Deliver Soul-Stirring Annual Welcome Set in Mexico

February 22, 2024
Phish Deliver Soul-Stirring Annual Welcome Set in Mexico

Photo via YouTube.

Last night, Feb. 22, Phish opened its seventh annual Riviera Maya series with its traditional welcome set, greeting the gathering of phans with a set heavy on beloved classics. 

In the single set and encore, the band performed 15 originals, culminating in a presentation of the surreal and stirring classic “The Mango Song,” dedicated to the recently departed 7-year-old follower Ellie Pearl Berg. This powerful moment lent an air of tender solemnity to the thoughtful, retrospective performance, setting the stage for an impactful series to follow.

Phish’s first performance of the year rolled into motion with “Back on the Train,” gradually building up steam from an understated, percussive opening to a thundering jam. After a brief aside from Trey Anastasio, who beamed, “Welcome everybody, welcome. So nice to see you all back here again,” the band followed this momentum down the line to 1998’s “The Moma Dance,” well-suited to the event with its nautical theme that rocked the group ever “further from shore” and off to a freely-flowing instrumental exchange.

Next came “Down With Disease,” the outfit’s 1994 radio breakthrough single, with a twist: the title lyric was cheekily swapped for “dancing on my beach.” Spiraling out with a funk groove that ran from jittery and edgy to liberated and lively, the track was left unfinished in favor of a transition into “If I Could,” just as the pair was originally presented on Phish’s fifth studio album Hoist. These songs have not been staged in sequence in thirty years, since the band’s June 1994 “Gamehenge” show. The set then progressed with the resiliently optimistic “Everything’s Right,” complimenting the backdrop of a warm Cancún twilight.

Phish continued to the set’s halfway mark with “Halfway to the Moon,” “Stash” and “Alaska,” which had not been performed by the full band since June 2022. The group maintained its roaring jam with a move to “Destiny Unbound,” followed by the “Ocelot,” the iconic star selection from the band’s 2009 album Joy. After a rendition of “Julius,” Phish made its final aquatic homage of the evening with “Sand,” which the band segued into “Life Saving Gun”–the most recent offering included in the performance–to conclude its set in a riotous, unwavering fashion.

After a brief intermission, the jam superstars returned to the stage for an encore with “The Mango Song,” a phan favorite from 1992’s A Picture of Nectar delivered in tribute to Ellie Pearl Berg. To preface the entry, Anastasio intoned, “This is for Ellie. Your family is in our hearts, and Ellie is in our hearts right now with all of us, so we’re gonna play this song,” This touching moment was the product of a community campaign to introduce Ellie’s favorite song into the Riviera Maya series, which spurred an outpouring of support with the hashtag #mangosforellie. Finally, the band closed out its welcome set with a staging of “Carini” that left its trademark balance of rambunctiousness and thoughtfulness ringing in the ocean breeze.

Phish will return to the stage at Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico’s Moon Palace Resort again tonight for the second show in its 2024 Riviera Maya run. Visit LivePhish to stream the next shows and stay tuned for further updates.

Moon Palace – Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Set I: Back on the Train, The Moma Dance > Down with Disease* > If I Could, Everything’s Right, Halfway to the Moon, Stash, Alaska, Destiny Unbound, Ocelot, Julius, Sand > Life Saving Gun
Encore: The Mango Song+, Carini

* Unfinished, lyrics swapped for “dancing on my beach,” original Hoist transition into “If I Could”
+ Tribute to Ellie Pearl Berg

Setlist via