, attached to 1997-08-03

Review by nichobert

nichobert On a scale of every show ever, these are probably a 3 out of 5. On the scale of 1997? I'd go closer to a 2. Maybe even a 1.5 for the 2nd night!

I've often wondered if the pressure of channeling the spirit of Hendrix lead to a small breakdown in will for these shows. On Jimi's home turf, they faltered for the first time this tour. Granted,Summer 97 is hellaciously strong, and the few below average shows- both Gorges and the 2nd night of Deer Creek would have still been strong outings in 1996 or Fall98 through 2000. There is just something missing from these shows. Something that shines through loud and clear during most of the other stops.

Perhaps it was fatigue? The 22nd they were in Raleigh, the23rd in Atlanta. The 25th and 26th in Texas, the 29th in Phoenix and 30+31 in Ventura. Pretty tough tour schedule! The spectacular 2nd night at Shoreline definitely would have drained mortal men after such a whirlwind of smoldering pyrotechnics, rubber band funk and sludgy Melvins-Esque thematic jamming.

The Gin> Foam is nice but messy compared to the reprise of that segue atAuburn Hills, Twist-> Jesus, particularly the last few minutes of Twist is excellent. Nice sludge coaster for the PAC NW. Limb is a tiny bit below average for the tour but Zero continues a trend ofbuttetly incendiary versions. Forgot how awesone this song was during this summer!

Julius is probably the 2nd set highlight which is saying something about what a great Julius it is- stretching at its boundaries for over 13 minutes- but says a little more about the fairly uninspired set following it. The Simple-> Fluffhead segue is nice and delicate but nothing earth shattering, and the Taste subtly flexes its newfound freedom to the same degree as Julius. Sweet Slave encore closes the stand down.

Night 1 is a little stronger, but not by much. Set 1 is the best set of the Gorge with a very nice Theme and Melt. Ghost and Wolfmans are the first funk jams that feel a little rote instead of bursting with exuberance and inspiration the way most of the jams had up until this point. The DWD is quite strong, especially the sludgy, swampy coda that mutates into Tweezer. Tweezer on the other hand feels like a throwback to some of the songs worst tendencies in 94 and 95. They play thematic Russian roulette the entire time and never settle on anything. One of the brilliant things about 2012 was Phish's way to slip through multiple segments in a jam without anything feeling unnatural or forced. This is all force, no flow.
Velvet Sea seems to have some extra oomph, and the Hood is frankly gorgeous.

All in all, plenty of highlights interspersed, but they seemed to hit a tiny wall that kept these shows from reaching the heights of previous stops in Texas, Atlanta, Ventura, Phoenix, Raleigh and VA Beach.

Seek out the Twist-> Jesus, Melt, Julius, Hood, Slave, Vultures, and DWD. Maybe the Tweezer if you're interested in hearing a mishmash of groove based jamming and schizophrenic impatience. Divided Sky is nice on video as well.

It's a testament to Summer 97 that shows can have this many highlights and be firmly in the bottom of the barrel. They really pick things up on the 6th and 8th as Summer kicks into high gear again!
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