, attached to 1994-12-28

Review by CForbin

CForbin Sorry for posting a 2nd review, but I recently listened to this show for the first time since seeing it live 21 years ago and want to edit or refute my initial review. Allow me to "wax nostalgic" and reflect a bit, if you will...
This was a pivotal year for the band, and in particular this was the end of a year that would see them go from being a small theatre band to a mega act - the days of seeing them in small clubs were over, or soon to be over. By this show, $5 covers had become a thing of the past. The band had graduated from 23 East to the Mann, to The Civic Center & Spectrum in just 2 year span. They were getting big, you could feel it in the air and this show has a "big room" sound, kinda "echoey" if you will. But the acoustics are good, listen to Page bounce the keys off those old walls - beautiful. First we get a strong Mound, before Mounds became rare. And it's time time time.
Simple was still a relatively new song back then, and you can tell the band was having tons of fun with it - they jammed it hard, very early in the show. Julius rocked, so hard, w/ a Buried tease as indicated in the notes. Gin was nice, bouncy & got a little trippy, album version Bouncing, Axilla II (hello! what a rarity!) in one of its last appearances to date, Reba version has an extended nice jam with Trey, Fish and Page going at it pretty heavy. DFB was a needed cool down after that hot Reba, and one of my faves, It's Ice, came out hot as usual and has a spooky ending to the jam out w/ a nice page solo at the end, very different than I've ever heard, and while it's not a staying power jam it certainly breaks this song up from it's more traditional versions. Antelope closes it out, a particularly quiet start followed by a particularly strong intro to the "fast" portion of the song (clearly a miss in my initial review). It's a strong Antelope, but most of them are - not the best ever, I don't think, but a very good one. It stops on a dime for Rye Rye Rocco, so perfectly. 4 "new" songs in the 1st set, all '94 debuts and all sounding great.
We open set 2 w/ that little Suzy Greenberg, nothing overly special about this version except the ending is drawn out more so than typical versions. NICU, felt like a new song but had already spent 2 years in rotation by this show - I remember it being a post show highlight, but really it's a pretty standard version. nothing special (other than it being a '94 version, anything from '94 is going to be special on that year alone). Mike's is nice, some nice early interplay from Trey and the jam gets a little dark w/ a cool build up going into Mango. A nice soft version of Mango becomes upbeat and upon completion, a Christmas present wrapped in a Weekapaugh Groove. A nice, long jammed version complete w/ a vocal jam, some clownish spookiness, I fondly and distinctly remember Trey shredding the Little Drummer Boy, it translates onto the recording as well as I remember it being so special - more than a tease, it's a full on 1+ minute shred that actually gets a little evil at a point before jumping back into the Groove. Like many hot shredders, they are followed by a cool down song - enter Contact (yes we will). Back to the shredding, a 2nd set Llama is hot but not anything over the top. Fish hates HYHU, and so do I as I think it broke the momentum of a hot show... maybe they just needed a breather. Apparently I am not the only one, you can hear someone in the crowd say "not Purple Rain, jesus"... haha, many calls for Cracklin' Rosie but Fish delivers Honey Love You well, after a bit of indecision. He also introduces the band, including trey "Dr Seuss" on the drums. Closing it out is Coil, with a long & beautiful Page solo that lasts several minutes. Bold as Love encore was a treat, but not anything overly special about this version.
In all, pretty much anything from the early 90's is going to be special - but pretty much everything this band does is special. I have grown to appreciate them as a mega act, as much I enjoyed them as a smaller venue band. This show, to me, reflects the jumping off point for Phish as a mega act, and having attended was a privilege.


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