, attached to 1997-11-17

Review by fhqwhgads

fhqwhgads The legendary "James Brown on his worst night" show ;) Up until last year (2015), we didn't see many 5-song *second* sets, much less 5-song first sets. This show has been a fan favorite for a long time, and the band chose it as one of the original 6 out of 20 Live Phish releases for good reason, as it's an exemplar of Fall '97 par excellence, while showcasing some jamming in Johnny B. Goode that shows where Phish would go over the next 3 years, to my ears. Tweezer starts us off in fine style, with a long, patient jam that is funky as all get-out. Trey loops a siren on the Boomerang and all four members ride the rhythm, as much a part within it as they are from outside, in the sense of a creator being distinct from his or her creation. Reba is taken for one of its more--what I'll call--melancholy excursions, though still being quite capable of life affirmation... with all of Reba's potion-making skills, did she ever consider a career as a social worker or educator? You can feel good. Train Song is a welcome and perfectly placed breather tune for this very attentive though enthusiastic audience at McNichols Arena. Ghost simply rages! I'm not familiar enough with the Jamesest of Browns to recognize a Super Bad tease when I hear one, but I can definitely groove with this Ghost. "A lot more music for your dancing pleasure and listening pleasure" before Phish rips into Fire and rips Fire apart. This first set alone is recommendation-worthy, but we still have one more set and an encore to go, thank Icculus!

Down with Disease stays in Type-I territory for a while before evolving into a kind of Floydesque slower-tempo jam that eventually finds its way into the long-lost Olivia's Pool (Olivia's Pool was reworked into Shafty by the time the Island Tour happened.) Johnny B. Goode's composed portion is interesting--and I'm gonna make the dreaded comparison here--in its contrast to Grateful Dead renderings of the Chuck Berry classic, but the Denver Jam (as it's labelled on the Live Phish release) is also quintessentially Phish, and again, fonk be hangin'. The funk is nimble and tight before giving way into some Fall-'94-esque deconstruction, and in my opinion an early glimpse of what one reviewer called the "twinkling psychedelia" of Big Cypress. Legitimate segue into Jesus Just Left Chicago, which proves a PTer whose handle I can't remember, wrong, when he or she claimed that "Trey can't play blues." Page's vocals are on point, per usual. Circus bridges the exploratorier portion of the set with the set closer, YEM. Few countoffs elicit the certainty of reaction that Trey's "1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4" for YEM does amongt phans. Not exactly a YEMmer's YEM, as there are a few flubs or fudged notes, but the bass & drums segment showcases the Fall '97 cowfunk to a T. The encore has zero character, it's just really unpersonable. Just kidding, of course! Character Zero's a great, fist-pumping victory lap on most occasions, and this one seems to have a more laid-back feel than some I've heard, but I'm not watching Trey probably jump off his amps and play behind his back with his teeth and so forth, so YMMV. Live Phish 11 contains the 11/19/97 Wolfman's -> Makisupa, which is a great extended Wolfman's and definitely worth purchasing this show for (the filler is included in the LivePhish.com download.) Amazing show, and many would contend that it's not even their favorite of the tour! What does that great, gaping grin portend? Stay tuned if you're listening through the tour for chills and thrills.


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