, attached to 1997-06-20

Review by ucpete

ucpete Taste rules. Taste really ruled in 1997. European Tastes from 1997? They seem to be the cream of the crop (even though Trey fucks this one up during the final build, which I hate to admit isn't out of the ordinary). Nice start to the show, and rather than jumping into another tune, they start jamming in a way that in some ways hints at the Absinthe-soaked mushroom Wormtown jamming that would come less than two weeks later in Amsterdam. Tonight it works, though apparently the green liquid got them into trouble the next time they came to Prague with that god-awful 7/5/98 show. And like Taste, Cities just seems to work so well in Europe. Obviously the London appearance was at least lyrically topical ("Think of London / small city"), but it works great here too -- this is kind of a "fast funk" version that's a lot more like than the original than other Phish renditions of the Talking Heads tune. Cities has an atypical ending before they start honking the Horn. This Horn is great, and has a nice outro that leads into the debut of Ain't Love Funny which drifts into an interesting mood before evolving into LxL, which itself devolves into a jam with a much harder edge to it, which quickly reassembles itself into I Don't Care (which was never played again). @waxbanks has it right -- this first set is sick! And it's a major departure from the previous night's going-through-the-motions first set. They meant business. RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN! The whole set is teetering on the edge of being out of control the whole time, making Antelope a particularly apt choice for the set closer -- and to lend a bit more suspicion to my Absinthe claims, Trey says "The Jersey Drunk" instead of "Marco Esquandolas" -- perhaps it's self-referential? My guess is that "Been you to have any spiked tongue?" refers to the popularity of tongue piercings in the late '90s funk scene in Prague. Ok I just made that shit up.

I'm surprised this Bowie isn't on the jam chart actually. It's pretty awesome and gets waaaaay out there and rocks pretty hard, and they don't reel it back in till past the 17 minute mark. I know this isn't exactly contrarian of me to say this, but I absolutely love the 20+ min. second set opener. I wish every show featured it. And then to follow up this huge Bowie with Ghost (4th ever)? That's a solid 34 minutes of awesomeness to open the second set -- and is an especially great continuation of the momentum of the first set. Though this Ghost is longer than the previous night's, it doesn't get as wild. It sort of rolls along nicely, slowly picking up steam, and coming to what would become a typical peak around the 10 minute mark before a full band halt a minute later. Twist gives them one last chance to really shine, and for a new tune, it's extremely gratifying to hear it click for them so quickly (same goes for Ghost -- Instant Classics!). After listening to my fair share of Twists recently, I think I actually like the old opening better -- the build-up to the main riff works better than the immediate introduction and repetition of the riff that we hear in modern day versions (every version from late '99 onward AFAIK). The only thing of note from BAtR through Rocky Top is the supposed Stairway tease by Trey in Julius -- I hear it at 4:45 but I think it's one note short of being differentiated from just some standard pentatonic Julius jamming. This is a rock solid 4 star Phish show, with the best first set of the tour to date and another strong opening to the second frame. Here come the festival sets, which are typically more about fan-acquisition and song accessibility than they are about h3tty jamZ.


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