SETLIST: Phish | XFINITY Theatre | Hartford, CT | 7/9/16 | Photos by Andrew Blackstein Load remaining images As if ever there was any doubt, Phish put their critics in line with what was, hands down, their best performance of summer 2016. Sometimes we need that one show, a special moment in time, to remind us fans just what it is they love about Phish. Last night was that show.It seemed that the SPAC run of shows were “fun,” an optimistic way of saying that any Phish is good Phish, but yeah, we’ve known better Phish. That sentiment was in the rear-view mirror after last night’s performance at the XFINITY Theatre in Hartford, CT. With a “YEM” that featured Page McConnell and Mike Gordon swapping instruments, flawless versions of Gamehendge classics “Tela” and “The Lizards,” and some major jams all in the same show, well, it reaffirmed the band’s true greatness. It was really a one-of-a-kind celebration.The show started modestly enough, with the third-ever and second “Pigtail” of the summer. The Trey Anastasio penned tune was a confusing start, never really taking hold with the audience, but “The Moma Dance” brought them right in it. It was no SPAC “Moma,” but it didn’t need to be. Tight and funky, the jam took off and never looked back.“Birds Of A Feather” kept that energy high and included a “They Attack” quote from “The Birds,” but it was really the song “Meat” that signaled the start of a special show. The Mike Gordon-led tune made its first funky appearance of the year, taking hold with its stop and go composition. The band kept the tour debuts coming with “Vultures,” yet another relative rarity played for the first time this year. The band executed the song to perfection, though somewhat awkwardly segued into “Free.” The “Free” jam was loose and rocking, getting into the groove before a unique coda section from Anastasio ended the song.The next song was the biggest bust out of the night, as Phish brought out “Let Me Lie” for the first time since August 10, 2010 (229 shows). The slower song made its first appearance with the Trey Anastasio Band, and Phish dabbled with it throughout the earliest days of the 3.0 era. It was fitting for the set’s cool down moment to be a major bust out highlight in its own right, and also fitting for its lyrical message.The set cruised on with great versions of “Halley’s Comet” and “Julius,” but it was the set closer that really wowed. For the first time in two years, Phish put their opus “You Enjoy Myself” in the first set. They really let the song breathe too, concluding the composed sections with an excellent and playful jam session, starting with Anastasio on the Marimba Lumina behind drummer Jon Fishman. With Anastasio plugging away, Gordon and McConnell switched instruments, allowing the keyboardist to stand before the crowd and rock on the bass. The jam eventually came to a gradual conclusion, ushering in a wild vocal jam to cap off the set.It’s worth mentioning that the skies threatened rain throughout this entire performance, with some speculating that the seemingly-longer-than-usual first set was a precaution against any incoming storms. While a light mist flowed in and out throughout the first set, the rain would remain a threat throughout the set break and second half of the show.Though Anastasio teased the opening chords to “Tela” upon first picking up his guitar, it was Gordon who brought in the opening notes of “Down With Disease.” This unfinished version was the improvisational highlight of the night, as Phish did what they do best: jammed. At times light and melodic, at times dark and energetic, the jam clocked in at a full 18-minutes and came to a natural conclusion. “Sand” picked things back up with some old fashioned funk, before the band brought out their first taste of Gamehendge for the night in “Tela.” The McConnell-led song was executed flawlessly, as fans looked on with bewilderment.The winds from beyond the mountain swept into “Carini,” as the raging rocker also signaled a gradual crescendo of precipitation. The “Carini” itself moved from its dark progression to a lighthearted jam, which in turn segued into “Twenty Years Later.” The Joy track kept the energy flowing, and the band and rain both picked up during an energetic “Run Like An Antelope.” Not much needs to be said about “Antelope;” it was its usual rocking self. The set closed with a beautiful version of “Backwards Down The Number Line,” a song that inspires mixed feelings from fans. With a moderate rain falling from the skies, this was quite a euphoric set-ender.As the rain continued to fall upon the lawn, Phish returned for an encore, bringing fans to their knees from the opening notes of “The Lizards.” An absolute fan favorite, the unexpected song was an absolutely perfect ending to a top tier performance. The song was played eloquently, as Anastasio confidently navigated the song’s wordy lyrics and final melody with ease. The rain fell through the song, but its presence only enhanced the experience, as if the weather was the “hose” manifested.To end the show, the band brought out their only cover of the night, a rendition of The Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup.” Some fans are vocal about their lukewarm feelings toward “Loving Cup” encores–always a seemingly “safe” choice from the band. But after “The Lizards,” this particular cup went down just right, serving as a perfect exclamation point on a top-notch show.You can watch high quality crowd-shot footage from the show below via YouTube user LazyLightning55a:“Free”“Carini”“Tela”“The Lizards”“Loving Cup”SETLIST: Phish | XFINITY Theatre | Hartford, CT | 7/9/16Set 1: Pigtail, The Moma Dance, Birds of a Feather, Meat, Vultures > Free, Let Me Lie, Halley’s Comet > Julius, You Enjoy MyselfSet 2: Down with Disease > Sand > Tela, Carini > Twenty Years Later > Run Like an Antelope > Backwards Down the Number LineEncore: The Lizards, Loving Cup Trey on Marimba Lumina, Page on bass, Mike on keys for portion of the jam. Unfinished.Notes: The Birds was quoted at the end of BOAF. Let Me Lie was last performed on August 10, 2010 (229 shows). Portions of the YEM jam featured Trey on Marimba Lumina, Mike on keys, and Page on bass. DWD was unfinished.[Photos courtesy of Andrew Scott Blackstein Photography]As Phish gears up for their 13-night “Baker’s Dozen” run at Madison Square Garden later this month, Live For Live Music has put together an extensive schedule of late-night shows to keep the party going until the wee hours throughout the NYC residency. Check out our Official Guide To Baker’s Dozen Late-Nights for all the details.