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Permalink Posted by waxbanks on , attached to 1997-12-06
waxbanksI tend to forget that the first set of this show even exists, because the second set is - maybe, I suppose we should say 'maybe' - the finest set of the finest year of Phish. Like the 11/17 show, this one's got everything: knife-edge cow funk, classic rock homage, eerie soundscapes, that ambient-roar 'space jam,' and the whipcrack segues that would all but disappear a couple of years later. Twelve years after it went down, it's the intense focus that gets me the coherence: there are no dead spots, no throwaway moments, just continuous shared creation. Even Phish's unfortunate musical dick joke (Sleeping Monkey) can't dispel the breathless energy of the jam out of Tweezer. The suite of four tunes that opens the second set feels like an old-school Tweezerfest a la 5/7/94, though of course we don't get back to the Tweezer theme until the set-ending Reprise. It's all of a piece - Izabella is just a coalescence of the 'space jam,' Twist spills out of Izabella's stop/start funk outro without breaking that loping rhythm, and Piper feels like gathering up shattered pieces of the three songs preceding it.

Despite wandering freely between styles and tempi, the second set of this show feels like a single piece of music - certainly as cohesive as the previous week's Runaway Jam in Worcester. It doesn't have the upbeat catch-all catholicism of a show like 11/26/97, but it's not meant to: this is a single statement. And I guess there's a first set in there somewhere - probably right before the second set, now that I think of it - and if you've got an hour to spare you can probably listen to that one too. I hear the band's decent.
Score: 21

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