At about 10:40 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday night, the final whistle blew in Boston and the St. Louis Blues rushed the ice in celebration of the long-suffering franchise’s first Stanley Cup title.
At the same time, about 1,000 miles to the west, Phish was about to kick off its second set at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis. And there was only one song the covers-loving jam band possibly could start with: “Gloria,” the 1982 Laura Branigan hit that somewhat oddly was adopted by the Blues as their victory anthem on their stirring run to the Stanley Cup.
The timing was just about perfect. According to Twitter accounts from fans who were at the concert, the game was being shown on TV screens in the arena concourses and the break between sets perfectly coincided with the end of the 4-1 Blues win in Game 7. And when the fans got back to their seats, the band noted the significance of the evening with a somewhat ragged run through “Gloria.”
It perhaps was a late addition to the set, as keyboardist Page McConnell (handling vocals) appears to be reading the words off a lyric sheet.
According to a Phish.net database of the many, many songs the group has covered in concert, it was the first time they’ve played that particular “Gloria” (they also once played “Gloria,” the 1964 garage-rock rave-up from Them, during a May 1995 benefit concert for Voters for Choice that was hosted by activist Gloria Steinem).
Originally written and composed by an Italian singer-songwriter in 1979, “Gloria” was remade by Branigan in 1982, reaching No. 2 on the pop charts. The song has no apparent connection to hockey — Branigan said the English-language lyrics to the song were about “a girl that’s running too fast for her own steps” — but that didn’t stop the Blues from adopting it after hearing it played repeatedly at a private club in Philadelphia called Jacks NYB where they had gathered to watch a January NFL playoff game between the Eagles and Bears.
“When the players arrived at the hole-in-the-wall with a locked front door, they were greeted with ‘Let’s go Flyers!' chants and some ribbing, but quickly assimilated with the crowd, cheesesteaks in hand,” Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press wrote last month. “A club member kept yelling, 'Play “Gloria!” ’ and DJ Matt Cella obliged by putting on Branigan’s catchy pop hit every commercial break.
“They just went nuts when they heard it, and we loved watching it,” Blues forward Robby Fabbri told Whyno. “So we just happened to get a win the next day and made it our win song.”
Suffice to say, there was much rejoicing at Jacks NYB on Wednesday.
Jacks has trademarked “Play Gloria!” and even has created championship T-shirts to mark the occasion.
As if “Gloria” wasn’t enough Blues synergy for the night back in St. Louis, Phish followed it up with another timely cover, this one the Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup.” They’ve had plenty of practice with that “Exile on Main Street” track: Wednesday’s performance was the 135th time Phish has played it in concert.