, attached to 1997-11-19

Review by n00b100

n00b100 I wrote a review of this show a year ago, but didn't particularly go in depth or talk about the first set, so I figured it was worth revisiting. This show has still stuck with me even after repeated listens, and given that there's about as many remasters of this show as Jon Fishman nicknames, it's pretty clear that I'm not alone. Let's dive in...

Set 1: The Gin immediately drops into an almost minor-chord jam that still retains the flavor of the usual Gin jam, and then starts to build up momentum in the "Classic Gin" style, Trey going into some nifty trills, before taking a brief left turn (foreshadowing, perhaps?) into some meaty Fall '97 funk and then ripping into Llama. The rest of the set is pretty standard (especially considering the tour that the show resides in), although with a heaping dose of minimalism (check out the breakdown in Funky Bitch), until Fee arrives. Fee itself is quite nice, a beautiful mixture of Trey's softer notes and Page's tinkling piano accompaniment, Trey tossing in some Meatstick quotes just for the hell of it. Antelope slowly winds its way out of this jam, and brings an electric close to the proceedings.

Set 2: I mentioned in my other review that 2001 is the jam of the night for me, and I still stand by that - with repeated listens, it doesn't feel *quite* as crisp as the great 2001s, or as massive and weird as (say) 9/29/99, but there's a reason 2001 fit so snugly into the stripped-back aesthetic of the late 90s, and this version explains that reason nicely. Trey alternates between crashing chords and leaning on the wah-wah, loops fly all over the place, Page plays some real spacey notes, Mike lets his basslines roam hither and thither, and Fish throws in some rhythmic flourishes and tempo shifts while not holding down the four-on-the-floor beat. The great 2001s set a tone for a set, and this 2001 shows that the guys meant business tonight.

This brings us to the Wolfman's, still one of the most divisive jams in Phish's storied career, and quite rightfully so. The typical Wolfman's start leads into a more dissonant jam, Trey coaxing some weird sounds out of his instrument, as they build towards a more blissful jam. Well, that is, until about the 11:30 mark, when Trey starts hammering away on a nasty riff, and the band has to drop what they're doing and try to put together a bed for this riff to lay upon. The resulting loud rock jam is reasonably successful but not particularly interesting, and they then start picking up the pace as Trey lands upon the Crosseyed riff, and Page goes for shimmering notes before we reenter a funkier (yet still fast-paced) realm. I have to say that I don't particularly care for this part of the jam - it doesn't really do much, to be honest, compared to the insanity of 1993 or the melodic beauty of 2012. The final, stomping classic rock segment (which reminded me of the Dick's Light finish, actually) at least puts a neat bow on things, before loping its way into Makisupa Policeman. Makisupa books along before entering a dark, almost scary realm, featuring some industrial noises not out of place on a DJ Shadow record, making it far more interesting than your average Makisupa. Taste and Possum are just fine.

Final thoughts: The first set is perfectly nice, with the post-Fee jam into Antelope the real highlight. The second set is definitely something of a mixed bag, to my ears - I'm much less high on the Wolfman's than I used to be, but parts of it are really well played, and the 2001/weird Makisupa are more than worth your time. A tremendously likable show, and (still, IMO) a show that would be the headliner of many other tours.


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