, attached to 1997-11-26

Review by JerrysMissingFinger

JerrysMissingFinger Set One Notes:
That intro that we are all always happy to hear starts up, and let’s go, baby. This is the first show back in the chilly Northeast after a warm southern sojourn, and I’m sure that the streets outside the arena are cold, cold, cold… The band drops straight into the cowfunk, crowd totally into it, the band channeling that jam that runs through all of Fall ’97 that is accessed at multiple points every night. Sirens in full effect, Mike thumping along, we get that classic patient, soaring Trey leads over the grooving, locked-in band as the push for the peak embarks. The band has hit the ground running, for sure, with this as the first song. No need for any warm-up, straight into the high-quality jamming right away. The music starts to build and swirl upwards, bursting and melting into Sparkle. This is an interesting placement, it works, reeling things back in a bit but keeping the vibe weird and energetic. When Gumbo hits, I’m so stoked for it, as I am every time it drops. Gumbo is one of those songs well poised to get the Fall ’97 treatment. Trey has total tonal control as they embark into the jam. This is certainly Phish For Movement First (if Fall ’94 or Summer ’95 represents Phish For Consideration and Interpretation First), and when they start to give up the Gumbo chord progression, everyone knows It’s On. We get great bluesy Funk-Man Trey, with Fish and Mike locked-in as one engine, Page crunching the clav, moving to the piano as they push into big, wide-open peak territory. Suddenly, Trey decides it’s time for My Soul. I have to be honest here: This is the single moment that keeps this set from being among the great first sets of ’97, and becomes a set with Really Great High Points. Man, I don’t dig this call, they played it at the last show, and we already got the Sparkle repeat too. I don’t know, My Soul just doesn’t do it for me. Understand that I am splitting hairs here, this is all relative to the other shows in this tour, of course. To each their own, I guess, maybe some people love this call. I just would’ve taken another five minutes of Gumbo. McGrupp is what I love to hear start up to deliver me back into the set, a true return to form after a brief interlude of blowing off steam. I love how much of a Page-feature McGrupp is, with that middle jam feeling like Zen-rock meets jazz-classical. So much energy is released when it kicks back in. Man, McGrupp is the greatest “cool down” song, if you consider it that (that burst never lets the energy die either). With the arrival of Dirt, we are indisputably in the “cool down” section common in a lot of these fall shows, and Dirt really works for me, prompting moments of calming contemplation. Melt is next, and I love a nice first set Melt, and this one delivers. I love those trippy “extra” notes in the Melt groove, man, the way they seem to glitch your dance moves when you get locked in. The music starts crying out, the machinery of this huge vehicle stuttering on the hard push to the peak. This Melt is truly a great contained, Type-I version. Horse/Silage in the Morning prompts a “lot of ups and downs, energy-wise.” comment from a friend, which I am feeling is the perfect reaction here. Silent is a good song though, and I love that guitar outro every time. Taste is a good call to end the set, burning it down one more time before sending the crowd on a break. The band is absolutely hammering away on this one in support of Page, who is just hammering on the ivories himself. When Trey gets started up, he is super locked-in, so clean in execution and so intentional, the band absolutely roaring behind him. This is a strong, strong, Type-I Taste, like its Melt counterpart earlier. This was a great set for me, that My Soul aside, the high points were still so high.

Set Two Notes:
With the band making strange noises, the suspense builds… what will it be? Through strange moans and clankings, Zero emerges. Interesting way to start Set 2, but lets see where it goes. Trey is absolutely spiraling into a ball of energy with his guitar work as we enter the jam, and the Zero gravity field persists for a while, locking the band in straight-raging Type-I fire. This jam retains that neo-Hendrixian-vibe for a seeming eternity, trippy in its own way… you know that it’s been a raging Zero for a while now, but you have zero reference for to really know how long it has been going this hard. Soon, the pace cools, space opens, Trey’s ringing looped guitar hovering over a low, sleeping-giant style groove. The jam starts to get heavy, Trey just shredding off notes into the crowd, Page's clav sawing away at your only route to safety from this tidal wave jam. I begin to hear a Vermont-rock interpretation on a variation of Voodoo Child (Slight Return), Trey with the occasional audio-fractal icepick to the third eye, Page’s clav still absolutely crunching my head in half, and Mike and Fish stomping on the bits. Sabbath on Cubensis. The Machine of Heavy Phish starts to stutter and glitch, still pounding away, ever onward, into 2001. Wow. We are fucking far out, man… too far… I don’t know… Just groove to wherever we end up, man… Aliens send down pulses to our crashed ship, investigating the primate-race’s incursion in their galactic sector. Our abduction and surrender to this groove is our only chance of survival. Even before the first “chorus” has hit, we are in full wah-infused, funk-siren backed disco ball mode, Page laying down that sweet stereo-swirl. This Spreadsheet AUD source is super bass-heavy, and that is to the full advantage of this 2001. Superbad Trey appears, leading to band to an explosive first “chorus”. Superbad Trey reemerges after a bit of Cool Weird Shit, and we move into super tight stop-start jamming. The band is so comfortable and confident in the cowfunk space. Fans of 12/29/97’s Tube will recognize the riff that Trey fires up here. Mike starts that slappin’ and poppin’, before this funk-workout of a 2001 makes a nice > Cities. Wow, what a set so far, with this Cities being such a great call after that 2001, keeping the vibe rolling. This is low-slung funk, Page tickling the clav. Wow, this is straight-Talking Heads on Kashyyyk (Wookie home world, I had to look that up too…). This must be where our alien rescuers earlier in 2001 got confused and dropped us off. Man, this Cities gets into the chilliest fucking deep groove as we depart Cities-proper into a new open space of nothing but multi-colored oscillating waves, a disco in an Indica-daydream. Ya Mar find its way into existence, and I will take a Ya Mar here for sure, a great happy, upbeat song to get out of that funk pit we had been down in. Leo Playing It gets good-weird somehow, I can’t explain, before Trey guides the band onto the point of a needle, then launches straight into PYITE. A great late set call for sure, and I love that intro groove, it’s like a mini-2001, if that makes sense to you. Honestly, The Landlady is kinda sloppy, but I’ll let it slide in view of this set as a whole. Caspian, next, has a super delicate intro, and Trey’s ‘doc has such a pure, natural, acoustic-infused tone in the song proper. This one feels like a victory lap after a hell of a set, and Trey’s solo is sweet and soaring as we have come to expect throughout this tour, though not taken for granted. Plus, we get that classic Big Rock Ending that I truly like on Caspian. Poor Heart, next, is so unexpected that it sounds like half the band didn’t expect it to start up either. Still, I think it’s funny, caught me off-guard, and I’ll take one more before Tweezer Reprise arrives to torch the place. Mike is detonating bombs all over the Civic Center, and the band sounds seriously huge on this AUD, closing the show in fine form. This is a strong Reprise. The Cavern encore is a great call to send the crowd steppin’ back out into the cold, cold, cold night, with some space droids lurking throughout. Trey turns the blade back on the bitch, and shit goes down as she is dropped in the dung. Way heavy rendition, seriously engaging, and certainly not your average, run-of-the-mill Cavern. Seek it out if you seek out such things.

Listen to this show as soon as possible. This one shines with the best of them.
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