, attached to 1995-12-07

Review by Anonymous

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

The NFCC felt more like an airport hanger. It was a huge open space with cement floors and ceiling like a gymnasium. The stage was set up on one end and there was a set of bleachers on the other end. It felt really empty because it was so large. A group of about fifteen of us from Rochester, NY, hung out only a few feet from the left side of the stage. It was a pleasure to have so much room to dance so close to the stage, a rarity at the time.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the show at the time, I enjoy it even more with repeated listenings to my audience tape. The show opens with a misplaced "My Old Home Place" getting things off to a mellow beginning. I love the lyrics of this song. A rare "Curtain", typically itself an opener, follows and segues directly into "AC/DC Bag"! The first jam of the night had us all grooving. This one is a classic with a well-developed jam. An unusual pairing of "Demand" and "Rift" felt odd, but was soon topped by a mid-set "Slave to the Traffic Light". This was a huge surprise and a great treat. It felt like the perfect song for the atmosphere inside the venue.
The second set opens with a raging "Split Open and Melt", possibly to complete the continuity of "Demand". It's full of energy as they push the jam beyond its limits, and then end it in a rather mellow fashion. "Julius" features Page's colorful piano set against Trey's sharp rhythms.
The "Mike's Song" is a little unusual because it is unfinished. The band opts against the trampolines, and Trey immediately begins a solo. About halfway through the jam, Trey begins playing his small drum kit, something he was doing frequently in '95. Mike then switches the bass line to a somewhat funky sound, reminiscent of a Phil Lesh solo in the '73 - œ74 era. The band ends up never playing the composed reprise section of "Mike's Song" that is usually followed by the sandwich song such as "Simple" or "I Am Hydrogen".
When Trey settles back on guitar, he begins to tease Van Morrisons' "Gloria". A very clear "Gloria" jam develops, a song that had been played six months earlier on 5/16/95. As the jam continues, it suddenly becomes very familiar. In a moment of haze I realized it was "Weekapaug Groove". The band locked up and dropped the musical scale into the opening riff of the song. This is a very nice "Weekapaug" with a great solo from Trey. As the song enters the reprise section, something unusual happened: no one sang anything.
It soon sounded like the band was going to play "Maze". We were excited! Instead, something weird happened. The look on the band members' faces told me something was wrong. Eventually Trey stopped playing guitar, but Fishman and Page were still playing. He then waved his hand across his throat, giving the universal cut sign, put down his guitar, and walked to the front of the stage. It was an odd moment, and a real buzz kill. Mike soon joined Trey up front, but you could feel and see the tension as Fishman and Page remained at their instruments. I'll never forget watching their facial expressions during this apparent argument. Eventually they gave in and sang "Amazing Grace".
The band came back and encored with a short "Uncle Pen". Although I love this tune, it seemed really strange since it's a song with no jam and has no real musical conversation. This was a little disappointing at the time after being teased with a potential monster show-closing "Maze". This bump in the road does not detract from the rest of the enjoyment. Get a copy and take a listen!


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