, attached to 1991-07-12

Review by conormac

conormac This show definitely belongs in every phans phish collection. The Giant Country Horns add a unique flavor to this show that is quite enjoyable.

Dinner and a Movie starts with a great horn line (kind of a precursor to the Remain in Light" set stuff we'll here 5 years later). The energy is very high with Gordo and Fish nailing the rhythm. When the horns join Trey's signature arpeggio lines things start to get even more interesting. We fly boisterously into Bouncin’ and land on the down beat perfectly. Some of the best parts of early Phish is how the pre-planned transitions between songs make for tight executions (as opposed to the loose "feel-it-out" transitions of the late 90s). Bouncin’ is standard well-played (with Trey missing a key on one of his signature lines, but when he rests it really locks in). However, I do miss Page's full grand that would enter the picture in 1993 and make this song even more full/enjoyable. Again, the end of one song immediately starts up another, this time finding ourselves being Buried Alive. The horn section uses a similar syncopated ensemble technique as Dinner/Movie, to a lesser profound effect IMO. However, Trey's growling tone (geez, its angry) gets this one started off nicely.

Now it's time for some jazz. Really wish we could get some of these tunes today. I know they may not translate to big venues of 3.0, but the band really can play well in this context. Flat Fee is our first jazz excursion (original composition by Trey) and is nice, with Trey executing the same gnarly tone as Buried Alive for his solo. That wraps our first movement of this set.

Next comes Reba (no horns), a classic early version, a little slower than we'd hear in 1993/1994. Hard not to focus on Mike during the composed sections; he is so on and just dances around the melody nicely with his old school tone. The difficult parts are all played very nicely, making the release of the jam that much sweeter. The jam is quite nice with great playing, though the band is still learning how to make this one even more of an emotional journey that it would become in the near future.

Next is the Landlady, played with vigor. It seems like there is an auxiliary drummer here based on the extra fills etc (is someone playing bongos, the GCHs perhaps)? Horns rejoin and allow this one to reach new levels, especially the fiery horn solos. Then we are back to standard Phish fare with Bathtub Gin. Another early version which is well played, with added excitement with addition of horn section. Love
Trey's vocal delivery here, somewhat menacing. The crowd is still warming up to the idea that they "love to take bath" (I think the infusion of more "dirty" hippies in the late 90s make the fact that we all scream this line now even funnier!) Trey comes out of the gate playing his lead line very punchy with the rhythm section syncopating nicely behind him. The horns (and vocal scatting) joining in give the lines extra power. Things grow more dissident before Trey cuts it off with one last "Bathtub Gin!"

After a brief (and comical, due to the background music from Page) intro to the Giant Country Horns, we find ourselves in a jazz classic by Miles Davis, Donna Lee. This tune "stretches out" a bit more to nice effect. After a little jazz, we find ourselves in the first real highlight of the night, AC/DC Bag. The horns are a great addition here (more melodic lines and less syncopation), and the band (especially Mike and Fishman) are playing this with a very funky and jumpy feel, which keeps the energy very high. In the jam, Page hits single note syncopation with Trey to great effect, which builds with the horns fantastically. The short jam is full of great Trey playing as he takes us to our typical exciting conclusion, the horns laying additional foundation that helps build the layers to the climax.

We next land in our first bluegrass number of the evening with Rocky Top. Mike takes the lead nicely, and before we know it we are in a pleasant early version of Cavern. Mike starts things off in funky fashion, then joined by Trey and Page. In this version there is no big Em chord drop from Trey and the band, just slinky playing over the main chords. The horns take the instrumental breaks which allows the band to keep that tight funk going throughout. The vocal refrain is standard and energetic.

To close out the 1st set, Phish picks David Bowie. The version starts out with jazzy bass soloing from Mike and Trey over the intro. Without the Fishman fill, we jump into the song proper, the horns complementing the band creatively. Things move along nicely through all the composed sections, the horns adding another unique flavor to a classic tune. At 5 min mark we find ourselves in the DB jam. Starts out very popcorny with playful Trey soloing. Mike joins the fun, then the rest of the band, and they accomplish their first jamatic moment smoothly. The horns join at the 7 min mark with swells, adding to the building tension. The rhythm starts to break, driving more tension, until Fishman switches to the straight-fast rock beat, and Trey remains in full send mode. More dissidence and tension starts to grow (hornless) into the key changes. From here we get pretty straightforward Bowie trilling climax, though the horns add new flavor again. And that's set 1!

Set 2 starts out without horns, woody-wood-pecking its way through an energetic reading. Trey struggles a bit to get his fingers warmed up, but nothing too jarring. Squirming Coil is another Lawn Boy tune to get a nice early version. Trey and team work their way through the changes with passion and grace, Trey demonstrating his control and classic era tone here, with only one real missed note which sounds endearingly organic as it rears its head. Page has fun with the ending (per usual), though it's not quite as grand as in years to come. I especially like how Trey winds up the energy with a semi-Tweezerish riff before Page concludes the passage.

Next the Giant Country Horns return, for a take on Charlie Parker's Moose the Mooche, which is a bouncy song, Fishman's Nawlins drumming standing out here. Mike also helps support with very playful bass lines. Trey's solo is very fun, with an almost Yamar-like quality. Then comes the actual Tweezer, the band quickly locking in step with one another. The crowd loves it, and the horns play one of the nicer composed instrumental sections of the evening between vocals. Ebenezer plays horns this go round, which builds tension, though he doesn't really know when to stop. We find ourselves in the jam with a big (for the era) Mike bass bomb. Then crunchy playing from Trey, and Mike filtering through some effects. Page and Fishman dance around them until we hit the 6 minute mark where the horns blend back in and we build to our first peak. Trey starts to shine here as he builds with repeating riffs followed by sharp jabs supported by the driving rhythm section. Things grow bluesy and energetic until we hit the big chord at the 8:30 min mark and start winding down slowly to the ending. We get our brief flash of the main riff again at the end which works awesome with the addition of the horns.

The horns take a break once again as we get our second bluegrass number in My Sweet One, a standard reading which rolls along quickly. Next up is an early version of Gumbo, which is a highlight for me. Though not gooey like later versions, the horns add a spark (like the ALO version) and the band plays up-tempo and energetically. In the second verse the band really locks in to the groove. Then there is a great instrumental break which is absent in later versions, which I really enjoy and wish they would bring back! Page then gets a chance to shine on the organ. When the vocals come back, the harmonies from Page are very nice as well! Trey then jumps in at 11 and burns this one down. The band even hold out the last chord of the structure a bit longer to create an extra special peak, which hits a sudden stop (think ’97), and then back into the Trey solo. Lastly, the horns then have their shot as they rollick this one to close. Very delicious Gumbo IMHO.

Mikes Groove is up next and it's a classic version, the horns making it unique. Trey gives the horns space in first jam, opting for more guitar jabs and stretches, before landing back on the main bass-line riff hard, and then leading the band into the walk up. The second jam sees more hard rock Trey, and the horns return, building back to another walk up. We go through the motions to Hydrogen, which is its beautiful self, very well-played, without horns, which stop short at the end of Mike's, rather surprised to have ended quite frankly. Weekapaug comes out of the gates ready to run wild per usual. Mike gives us an interesting reading on his bass solo at the start, a bit jazzier then typical. When the band hits again, we are full-bore Paug. As we hit the jam, no horns to be heard, as Trey and gang are really pushing through the standard fare. Though at 3 minute mark, things take a unique turn, which helps separate this early version from the pack. Soon, however, we are back in send mode with Trey rallying (rather quickly) to the peak in classic machine-gun style. (Note: the recording goes through some funny warping and phasing during the refrain at the end).

To cool things down after the rowdy Paug, Fishman gets to steal the show, and Touch Me is a fantastic tune for his gimmicky performance. Trey introduces Henrietta who proceeds to not only sing his best version of the Doors classic, but also joins the horns with his trombone. Just classic Fish, at its finest and funniest. Next, the "Lizard Queen" retreats to his throne, and the band runs through Oh Kee Pah without horns. Standard version. We land nicely in the classic pairing with Suzy G, which spits fire, and closes the set with exclamation! I especially like Trey's chordal comping during page's solo. I also absolutely love the composed horn lines for this one (Hampton Comes Alive was my first exposure to it, and I still sing them with every version, with horns or not!). Great stuff to close the 2nd set!

We get an extended encore at this show, which is fitting, cuz we haven't played enough songs yet, right? ;) Sweet Adeline is performed without mics with average shooshing. Ends with the loudest applaud of the night. Next Frankenstein comes to life (only for the 6th time at this point in Phish’s career) and is a fun listen, the horns contributing tentatively. Trey really cranks it for his solo, his tone getting as dirty as ever. Fishman's solo is executed well, and he gives a little extra of his own spin in the middle with some salsa-y fills. Page sticks to the organ for this version. There is a vocal jam in the middle, with splashes of horns, which makes for a unique reading. After the 2nd drum solo, the band caps this one off with excellent energy!

The crowd eggs the band back on for more and the band returns. Trey thanks the crowd, then jumps into a classic Fee, though Page and Trey need to remind themselves of the chords at the start (last played 2 months earlier). Next comes the expected Tweezer Reprise, which has been tearing houses down since 1991! Gordo adds some hardcore bombs here, and the horns help build this one with fury.

And that's a wrap! A fun and exciting ending to a fantastic show, which really stands out in this era due to the help from the Giant Country Horns. Like I said, this show belongs in every phans collection, and showcases what was unique about 1991 GCH tour. Phish on!

Note: on the Live Phish 19 version of this show, we get a BBFCFM , a bonus track from the previous night at Battery Park in Burlington, VT . Simply stated, it’s Phishy awesomeness! Radical!!


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