, attached to 1997-11-30

Review by n00b100

n00b100 This is the sort of setlist that would cause cardiac arrest if it were played today, which makes me wonder why there isn't more talk about this show - especially considering it's part of the mighty Fall 97 jaunt. I've listened to it before without much opinion on it, but it's really started growing on me recently (especially with the discovery of Stash -> Free in SBD form). Let's see how it stacks up in this finest of finest hours for the band.

The first set starts with Guyute, which is Guyute, then rolls into Funky Bitch, which (rather than end in normal fashion) slides into a typical Fall 97 groove, Mike really leading this jam by the hand, and then goes upbeat and melodic (again thanks to Mike) and builds up to a beautiful finish before hitting a dead stop. It's a Funky Bitch definitely worth hearing, and without pause the band rolls into Wolfman's. Trey's soloing is dirty and nasty from the start, and the band explores that space before (again!) going upbeat and melodic, the resulting jam something you might hear in 3.0 (which is meant as a compliment, duh). The band floats on a cloud for a few minutes, playing one of their most gorgeous jams ever (seriously, it's remarkable stuff) before, much like the 11/19/97 version, Trey grabs the jam by the neck and yanks it in another direction. At least here it's not quite as jarring - there's a full five minutes of Trey soloing before they make the switch - but then they go into the heavy metal jam, which is neat for a minute or two, and then keeps on going...and keeps on going...and keeps on going...and then they're playing Love Me and you're jolted awake. If ever you needed a reason why jam length ain't be all end all, it's this jam - a truly amazing 20 minute jam, but a reasonably good 30 minute jam when you consider a full third of it is hot garbage. The rest of the set is fine, but goddamn, two jams of that high a caliber (mostly) in Set 1 should be heard as soon as you can.

The second set starts brightly with NICU, then comes a second-set Stash (I do miss second-set Stashes), which luxuriates in the usual Stash jam for a fair bit before sliding into a relaxed funky groove (reminiscent of the 11/17 Tweezer), Mike once again taking the lead as Trey works his wah wah and Page plays some droning notes. It's a weird alternate-universe Stash, where the band would use the jam to kick back and relax instead of tunnel into the earth, and as the jam dies away Free emerges, and this Free *also* has its own super-chill funk jam, Trey playing chords instead of soloing away, the band totally in tune with each other. They go into the usual Free ending, and then fall into a lovely ambient jam, a little slice of what awaited the fans at Lemonwheel nine months later, Page taking the lead as he so often does in these ambient excursions, before a beautiful segue into Piper. Piper hadn't gotten its sea legs as a jam vehicle yet, so this is a typical slow-build old-ending Piper. Circus and Antelope close out the set, and the one and only Them Changes they ever played serves as a fine encore.

I don't think you can really call this a best of tour contender (you probably could if you snipped that 10 minutes off Wolfman's), but there is a host of beautiful jams, a massive helping of funkiness (easily one of the funkier shows of the tour), and some A+ segues throughout. Drop this show in many other tours, and its praises would be sung to the heavens. As it stands, it's just another reason why Fall 97 is the tour to beat.
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