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Permalink Posted by Andrew Rose on , attached to 1999-12-07
Phish.Net contributor(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

The two Portland, Maine shows from Fall `99 are high on my "all-time underrated" list. Walking into a general admission show at the historic CCCC on that first crispy December night, I remembered thinking, "Am I sure this is 1999 and not 1993?" I was fortunate enough to nab a spot in the first couple rows after leaving my friends, who had opted for seats. I spent the show solo and had one of my best Phish experiences ever.
The first set was highlighted early with a nasty '99 style "First Tube", a stellar version. I was just digging the intimate atmosphere, the relatively friendly and warm crowd, and playfulness of the set. Mike was full-on cracking up during the "Landlady" dance in the mid-set "Punch" (always a treat).
I'm a big "Halley's" fan, and have always been quick to praise its jam potential. The last one I had seen was probably from Great Woods earlier that summer (7/13/99) and it had been fantastic. This is my bar-none all-time-yes-I'm-familiar-with-12/14/95-and-11/11/98 number one "Halley's" of all time pick. It's about twenty seven minutes long, and launches right from the get go. It's got a slick electric groove (that would be visited in the stellar second set "Bathtub") to start things off, some tasteful rocking and some serious glory. It's one of my favorite Phish jams of all time, and I can't believe this jam doesn't get mentioned more often. Do yourself a favor and seek this show out so you can hear it.
Set II was also great. "Wolfman's" was typical of the time "... funky and groovy and getting out there just enough for you to be pleasantly surprised by the return to the theme to finish it. There's also a "Bug" that made me an early believer. Just beautiful on this one, and great placement.
The set following "Bug" is bliss. I liked the "Bathtub" at the time, but now I flat out love it. I've always been a huge "Gin" fan, and have always expected big things from it. What's nice about this one is that its completely atypical for a "Gin" jam of this period. Instead, its got a soaring ambient groove that the band hit really nicely a few times in this period; see also the "Halley's" in the first set, the" Down with Disease" from the following night, and Big Cypress. They really get out into space, but with a sense of direction. Great listening music. "Simple", "Free", "Suzie" was Mike and Page heavy bring-down-the-house kind of stuff. Fantastically fun and definitely a keeper. The goodness continued through the following night.
Score: 4

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