The Mule Duel contained Roundabout teases and a slow jam instead of the traditional duel. Between Simple and Ghost, Trey talked about feedback problems and the “ghosts in the machine.”
Roundabout tease in Scent of a Mule
Debut Years (Average: 1990)

This show was part of the "1997 NYE Run"

Show Reviews

, attached to 1997-12-28

Review by zzyzx

zzyzx (Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

This show might be the most under-appreciated show in Phish's history. Ask any fan about this New Year's Run and they'll go on and on about the wonderful show on the 30th. School bus balloons and a confusing but entertaining movie from NYE will be mentioned. They'll be sure to mention the “Can't Turn You Loose” jam from the 29th. "Yes," the conclusion will be, "that sure was one great run at the Garden."

If the US Air Arena (formerly Capitol Centre) show is brought up at all, it's just to be dismissed. "Sloppy" and "aimless" are adjectives used to describe it. I can't deny that there is some justification for those descriptions, but that's not all that's happening in this show by a long shot. This is far from just being a "warm-up" show. During a New Year’s Run in one of the most popular years of Phish, they managed to play one of their most experimental shows in their career and no one seems to have noticed it. Edgar Allan Poe would be pleased.

I will confess to some bias of my own here. I took my friend Amanda to this show. It was her first show of any jam band and she got it. It was quite literally a life changing experience to her. Maybe I take the maligning of this show a bit too personally, but Amanda besides, I just popped in this show at random this morning and found myself listening to sections over and over again, fascinated by what had just happened.

The show opens with “Julius”. It doesn't crackle with energy (although it does have a nice peak), but instead it's long and groovy. This is 1997 after all, not 1994. In the first of many setlist treats, it segues into “Cities”. Again, this version is slow and groove oriented, but it managed to stay interesting. Especially noteworthy is the end. Trey plays a circular riff on his guitar. In the middle of playing it, he counts "1-2-1-2-3-4" and turns it into the intro of “The Curtain”. It's very slick and earns the show points right away.

I have to tell one quick story here. In the middle of the set, Amanda turned to me and asked, "Where's the angst?" She meant it as a compliment. She hadn't heard music this optimistic in a long time. The only problem was that she asked me this during “The Old Home Place”. The line being sung at the time was "I lost my love, I lost my home, and now I wish that I was dead."

"Runaway Jim" followed. There's a great bit in the mid-song break where they play a line quieter and quieter until it's silent halfway through it. They then slam into the next line just like they've been playing it all along. Through an interesting jam section, this version manages to last for fourteen minutes before just coming to a stop. This foreshadowed the jams of the second set: interesting, melodic, but not the highest of energy.

When “Funky Bitch” came on, I thought I'd show off to Amanda. "Oh this will end the set." Nope. A nice long “Split Open and Melt”. "Well this will definitely end the set." Nope. “Bouncing”. Finally “Character Zero” did, in fact, end the set.

There really isn't much bad that can be said about it. It was long. The setlist was interesting. There were some nice peaks at the end of “Julius” and “Funky Bitch” and interesting jams all over the place. Okay, the “Farmhouse” is one of my least favorite versions, but that's about it. This, by the way, is by far the worse of the two sets.

The second set opener, as far as I know, is a bit of a debut. “Axilla I” was played but with the “Axilla II” ending; I like to call it "Axilla 1.5". The ending of this song is quite extended, culminating in a rather eerie sounding space. After nearly ten minutes of playing, it finally segues into “Simple”.

The “Simple” jam starts out normal enough, but about eight minutes into it, it leaves the normal universe of “Simple” to enter a pretty space. The jam is really atypical for a “Simple”. Unfortunately, it's cut off just as a really interesting groove theme was being explored, due to some feedback that Trey refers to as, "The Ghost of the Machine," in a rather long ramble. It would have been interesting to hear where the jam would have gone, but I guess it wasn't in the cards.

In honor of the feedback, “Ghost” follows. The jam takes a few minutes to get going, but once they speed things up a bit, the it gets quite interesting. In fact, if this show has a weakness, it's that it gets quite hard to explain how every jam goes to unusual spaces for the song, and is quite interesting.

There are so many highlights left in the show though, from the Mike-led jam in “Drowned” that transforms into a rather threatening space, to the “Roundabout” jam in “Scent of a Mule”, to the high-energy jam in “Halley’s”, to the wall of noise effect Jon and Mike create about 9:30 into the “Slave”. to list the songs is to list the highlights. If your reason for loving Phish is that they sometimes throw out the normal ways of doing things and improvise, then this is your show. It might not inspire you to put on your dancing shoes, but there's a chance you'll feel the need to get out pen and paper to write an ode to it. Pop this in your CD player sometime, especially if you were one of the people who went to this show and didn't think it was all that great. You have a surprise waiting for you.
, attached to 1997-12-28

Review by westbrook

westbrook This show is a testament to the strength of Fall 97. While it's one of the least renowned shows of the tour, it is still a fantastic show. Julius and Cities both have pretty good jams. This Cities is an example of the stacatto/plinko jams that have been seen recently. The segue into The Curtain is very interesting. The 14 minute Runaway Jim is no slouch either. Unlike some other SOAMs in 1997 which are funky, this one is hard-rocking from start to finish. The second set is full of jam vehicles. There are no breaks here. Even Axilla is extended to over 9 minutes. The feedback problem doesn't really have a negative effect on the show. I think the Simple jam has run its course before being stopped due to the feedback. Ghost and Drowned are solid. Scent of a Mule's jam is must-hear IMO. It's very atypical, yet gorgeous and haunting at the same time. The following Halley's is no Hampton, but is great in its own right. Then you get your beautiful Slave towards the end of the set that was common in 97. Rocky Top>Cavern and Bold as Love is icing on the cake.
, attached to 1997-12-28

Review by bouncin7

bouncin7 To echo SLOTHelot, this second set 12/28/97 is exceptional Phish. No surprise for Fall 1997, right? This AXILLA is for the AX ages ........extending into what I note as "Ax Sick Illa Jam." IT goes places, just listen. This is THE AXILLA! As it sounds like they're going into BOTT after Axilla (ah no friggin way it's only 1997) it's a SIMPLE melt into and then a rebirth of the > Ax Sick Illa Jam again - slow version - Trey playing those notes > a Funk Jam develops > then a pause before GHOST! This JAM before GHOST has kept this recording on my wall of Phame!! Need I say more? In Trey's words....

TREY: "We're just gettin' rid of that little bit of feedback there - so we could move on with the - UP - there it is again. Somtimes those things creep into the ahh ahh.... the ghost in the machine or something, but Paul always gets rid of them, but ah, we just move right along. I don't know. Maybe this is what this song is about anyway cause. I lot of people told me different things what they think this next tune is about. But maybe it's about the little - um - um weird little feedback things that creep back into the Ghost in the Machine. I'm just mumbling - I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about. LOL LOL....ahhhhh. So back to the music now........hahhhhh..LOL." LOL...........ahhhhhh."
, attached to 1997-12-28

Review by The_Slothelot

The_Slothelot Im curious as to why this show is so poorly rated. The first set is nothing extremely special compared to other November and December shows in '97, but it is flawlessly played. The stand out are the Julius opener, the SOAMelt, and the Jim is top notch funk.
This second set is awesome. The axilla>simple is amazing. Some beautiful type 2 space on the simple. The feedback does not interfere with the show what so ever, and does not effect an incredible ghost form occurring.
The drowned was a typical jammed out drowned, good but not incredible.
The SOAMule jam was awesome! the round about teases are great!
There are some really great jammed halleys from '97, this is not one of them. This one isnt bad but cant hold a candle to some of them like, hampton.

All in all, this is a very solid show. As i said before, It's flawlessly played, but at times just a little typical. In the 2 month span of nov-december 97, the boys played some of their most memorable shows. They cant all the auburn hill, hampton or the nutter, right?
, attached to 1997-12-28

Review by Bob_Loblaw

Bob_Loblaw Great stepping stone to an epic NYE Run

Cities has a very quick but very nice extra funky jam coming out of it. The Curtain > Sample transition is clean and near perfect. Jim has a very straight forward but nice and mellow jam coming out of it. Farmhouse is very sloppy but it's still just a baby. Melt thru Zero is all pretty straight forward and average.

Simple has a nice mellow bliss jam, based on the banter about the feedback after I have to wonder if the jam would have extended longer if the feedback wasn't bugging Trey so much, who knows? Ghost has a nice, short, tense jam coming out of it. ScentOAM is a fantastic version. It has a nice eerie yet mellow jam in it's center that I like a lot. And the transition back to the ending is flawless and triumphant! Halley's has a jam in a similar vein as it's 11/22/97 counterpart, but goes a fraction of the distance. Slave is pretty average as is the filler songs at the end of the set.

Bold as Love continues the love for Jimi on this tour.

Overall a great show. I'm on the fence between giving it 3 and 4 stars as I'd personally rate it a 3.5.
, attached to 1997-12-28

Review by Anonymous

(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

Though the 1997 New Years Run started in Maryland, it was viewed by many as a one-night mid-Atlantic warmup followed by a three-night romp through the Big Apple. And what a romp it was!
As with many fans, and as I had done in 1996, I spent the New Years Run traveling with a large group of fans and friends. There was a distinctly different feeling in the air this year, though. The 1996 Run came on the heels of a solid but unspectacular tour, while the 1997 Run came at the close of one of the most exciting Phish years ever. I was lucky enough to catch a few shows earlier in the year (most notably the lightning-inflected Raleigh show in the summer and the underrated Winston-Salem show in the fall), but most of the hose I felt was through tapes of the then-recent Hampton extravaganza and shows like Rochester and Auburn Hills. None of this prepared me for the four night Run.
Sure enough, Landover was a warm-up. A strong warm-up, mind you, but definitely a warm-up. There were some minor technical problems (the ghost in the machine, according to Trey) and some rough spots, but it was, overall, a solid Phish show. My fondest memory of that show was visual rather than musical. My group was scattered around the arena but six of us wound up in the same section on the Page side of the building. During the second set, as we looked across the arena, we saw that some fans had strung a series of glowrings together. The glowrings were being passed around a few rows of that section, bending and gyrating with the music, seemingly under some greater control than the hands that held them. I had gotten somewhat used to seeing and hearing about glowstick wars through the summer and fall of 1997, but this innovative (and harmless) visual spectacle was incredible to watch.
, attached to 1997-12-28

Review by kipmat


It's difficult to comprehend a show from December 1997 being underrated, when just about every other show from that month has been celebrated. Phish did indeed Destroy America over the 21 shows between 11/13/97 and 12/13/97, but hindsight seems to have relegated this show to the shadows of the three huh-yuge MSG shows that followed. However, I feel that there's still a lot to be appreciated here, and judging by the other show reviews on this page, it seems I'm not alone in that opinion.

The main complaint, it seems to me, is the randomness of the setlist. The combination of Cities > The Curtain is a caution to expect the unexpected. The abundance of Hoist-era material might be another gripe, but it's not all by-the-numbers; the Axilla II "Don't shine that light in my face, man" jam is appended to the Axilla second set opener, and Trey's riff in SOAMelt is another nod to the Hoist album. The sound issues that plague the jams in Simple and Drowned could be perceived as annoyances that bring this show rating down, but these can also be easily overlooked in lieu of the overall spaciness of the jamming throughout the second set (reminiscent of 5/7/94 set II). Only Runaway Jim was used in a Mystery Jam Monday contest, but the first seven tracks in this second set have moments that could fool an experienced listener.
, attached to 1997-12-28

Review by spreaditround

spreaditround SET 1:

Julius: Absolutely rips – awesome way to start this show! They really came out swinging! Would recommend.

Cities: Super funky and repetitive, Trey is all over the staccato throughout the composed and the jam. Would recommend as it is unique. >

The Curtain: Standard. Perfect placement. >

Sample in a Jar: Standard.

The Old Home Place: Standard. >

Runaway Jim: I am definitely a fan of this version. It holds this very steady Eddy sort of pace and then within a few minutes of it’s ending Trey hits up some loops and they take it to funky town and then into deep space. There is a lot to like about this and I would recommend it.

Farmhouse: Standard.

Funky Bitch: Standard.

Split Open and Melt: Standard.

Bouncing Around the Room: Standard.

Character Zero:

SET 2:

Axilla: Contained Axilla II ending. This one has a very cool ambient jam that eventually finds its way segueing into Simple. Would recommend! >

Simple: Not a big fan. Never seems to find its footing once it moves out of the typical serene section around 8 or 9 minutes. Its all over the place. I wonder if the feedback issue that they banter about after Simple is what caused this strange jam?

Banter: Funny stuff. Tech issues. Feedback issues. Ghost in the machine. Trey is funny.

Ghost: Similar to Simple in that it seems mostly aimless and without a rudder. >

Drowned: Very chill and deep, deep space. Tons of room in here and ambience. Would recommend. This would be good to put on at the end of a late night if you know what I mean. Good to come down to. Would recommend. >

Scent of a Mule: The Mule Duel contained a slow jam instead of the traditional duel. Roundabout by Yes at 5:40 – pretty cool. Like Drowned this has a deep space jam as well, not lengthy though like the one in Drowned.

Halley's Comet: Pedal to the medal for the most part, the last minute or so gets spacy as they try to figure out where to go next and eventually the melt into Slave. Would recommend this version. >

Slave to the Traffic Light: Little rusty in the beginning. But this one features a beautiful held note and then a spirited closing. It’s a strong version and I would recommend it. Very good but not quite great.

Rocky Top: Standard. >

Cavern: Standard.


Bold As Love: Smokes! Love this as an encore.

Summary: Long show, 3:11 in length. First set is pretty good with three highlights and plenty of desirable songs. Second set I pretty good too. That’s my takeaway on this show and the highlights – there are plenty of pretty good spots to revisit but nothing that will jump up and grab you. This seemed like a show where they needed to feel themselves out and try and regain the momentum from Fall tour. The current rating on .net is spot on 3.92/5 (150 ratings).

Replay Value: Julius, Cities, Runaway Jim, Axilla, Drowned, Halley's Comet, Slave to the Traffic Light
, attached to 1997-12-28

Review by GitDown

GitDown Parts of the Ghost jam are reminiscent of Attack on da Bass.
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