, attached to 1996-07-12

Review by Anonymous

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

This was one of the most eagerly anticipated shows of all time. Phish, the biggest psychedelic party band of our generation, was playing Amsterdam, the party and cannabis capital of the world. The announcement of Phish's very first show in Amsterdam was a dream come true for aphishionados everywhere. Unfortunately, what many thought would be one of the best Phish shows of all time turned out to be one of the worst. This show is actually proof of how potent the pot is in Amsterdam. Apparently, the pot is so powerful that it causes the best musicians in the world to forget how to play their own songs. Throughout the show there are many mistakes made both lyrically and musically. Many songs and jam segments remained unfinished or ended in a restrained or quiet manner. All of the jam segments are short, simple, and mellow. The main reason the jam segments are lame is because Trey appears to be stoned. In fact, in the middle of the show he says the band is going to take a break and go smoke some hash buds. It is hard to hear him during many songs, and there are no spine-tingling guitar solos from him. The endings of so many songs in this show are lame because Trey doesn't "go off" with fiery solos to wrap up the endings like he normally does. In fact, the three words that best sum up this show are mellow, sloppy, and strange. Most of the playing sounds boring and uninspired. Then again, I'm sure the audience was so zonked they never even noticed.
The “Wilson” and “Divided Sky” that open the show sound decent. In fact, the “Divided Sky” is one of the best-played songs of the night, which is surprising giving its complex compositional nature. “Horn” and “Split Open” are next. “Horn” is played normally and “Split” starts off fine, including the jam segment. But eventually the jam begins to get super mellow, and Trey barely plays anything. The volume lowers and the tempo slows down as jam becomes very quiet and hushed. A typical “Split” ends in loud, chaotic, powerful fashion. But the final ending notes of this “Split” are played as though someone was whispering. “Ya Mar” is next and is okay until the end. Trey and Page just keep playing the same boring note over and over again for about ten seconds. Then all of a sudden it sounds like the band is going to bust into “BBFCFM”, but instead they opt for “Funky Bitch”. In the middle of “Funky Bitch” the band goes into "hush" mode and plays really quietly as Mike whispers instead of sings. Luckily, the band eventually gets louder and they finish up the song in standard fashion. The rest of the set is decent with “Taste” and “Theme” getting honorable mentions as standard versions and sounding fine. “Tweezer” has a nice segue into “Llama” to close out the set.
The second set begins with a series of segues (“Ice” > “Caspian” > “Mike’s” > “Antelope” > “Purple Rain”) that looks nice on paper, but looks can be deceiving. “Ice” and “Caspian” are okay, but “Mike’s Song” is awful and among the worst versions ever because Trey does nothing. He is inaudible during most of this short “Mike’s Song” until the segue into “Antelope”. This is a lame segue, because at this point the jam dissolved into nothing but Page. As the “Antelope” kicks in over the keyboards, Trey comes back to life. “Antelope” is uptempo and eventually starts to rock out a bit. They play most of “Antelope” fine until they get to the "Rye Rye Rocco" part. At the moment they should go into that part, they instead segue into “Purple Rain”. The segue itself is perfect, but an odd and dreadful choice. The “Purple Rain” just absolutely kills all the momentum “Antelope” had achieved. The decision to segue into “Purple Rain” ended “Antelope” prematurely and if I was at the show I would have been horrified.
Next up, the audience gets to create a song. Trey asks them to name a few chords and name a groove. A ska groove is chosen and the band plays this new jam, but Trey cuts it off after only forty seconds and says "We're gonna play our song, yours is too weird." Someone should have reminded Trey that practically every song he was playing that night sounded weird. The “NICU” is a perfect example because it is sloppy both vocally and musically and the jam is completely different than a typical “NICU”. However, the segue from “NICU” > “Slave” is nice, but the “Slave” is extremely mellow and unfinished. Usually Trey shines during the end of “Slave” with his powerful and emotional solos. But this “Slave” jam just abruptly ends and dies a quick death without ever going anywhere. Just to show you how stoned Trey was, he sounds amazed when Fishman gets a boring, typical feedback sound from his equipment. "That was Fishman and that was incredible when he plugged his cord in," Trey said excitedly. During the “Suzie Greenberg” that follows, Trey sings the first verse but forgets the rest of the lyrics. There are no vocals in this “Suzie Greenberg”. Trey jokingly says "Suzie, Suzie, Suzie" where he should be singing an actual verse of the song. Since Trey can't remember any of the words, the band just moved directly into the jam portion. Trey remembers to sing the last verse but as the song ends instead of singing the closing chorus of “Suzie Greenberg” energetically, the band just barely whispers it. The set ends with “Suzie”, but for some reason Fishman stays on stage alone and keeps playing drums. He plays a slow, hypnotic beat for about a minute and some audience members don't even realize he is still up there.
The third set begins with a good, normal version of “David Bowie” > “Free”. The “Bowie” is unfinished as the jam gets real mellow and quiet before segueing into “Free”. “Free” is fine, but just like so many jams during this show, this jam just abruptly fades out and ends prematurely. The “Bathtub Gin” during the encore is the exact same way. The jam segment is unfinished and just suddenly ends mysteriously. After “Gin”, knowing this Phish performance was lame as hell, Trey whispers "Rock and roll," and they rock out to “Johnny B. Goode”. This song is so basic there's no way they can screw it up. And they don't. A solid, rocking version of “Johnny B. Goode” ends one of the sloppiest nights of Phish ever.


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