I was really expecting a side step into Suzy but was even happier to get an AC/DC Bag instead. This is where these 4 guys gave it away to me that this was going to be a night to remember. 4:00 minutes into Bag and I was already in guitar heaven. At some points it sounded like Trey was trying to steer them away from the ACDCFAG progression but he would suddenly veer back into the center of the lane and stay straight while Page would jerk the wheel a little too close to the edge. It sounded to me like Mike was going back and forth trying to decide who to stick with. The whole jam went on like this. Some might say that this was a disjointed jam where no one is locked into one another. I disagree. I think this was Bag in full Fall 95 glory. No rules, no worries and no looking back. At about 8:00 minutes in Trey hit the phase button and I swear it felt like Jimi had dropped down to jam and to finish the song with them. I love this version!
The Curtain vocals sounded like they were coming down from the top of a great mountain. They sounded slightly off key but that may add to the realness and sincerity of it. Sure enough my life was running away from me - the life as I knew it before phish anyway. The thousands of people there felt the same as far as I knew. How could they not. We were all chanting words from a song just the same.
The Curtain slid into a super tight Sparkle. This one seemed to have a little extra juice at the end like some of the others from Fall 95 but this one stayed ridiculously tight through the intense ending. An impressive version to say the least.
Stash was where the magic was in the first set at least for me. From Fish’s fill into the main theme riff about 6 seconds in I knew it was going to be a burner. There was some great exploratory stuff happening in the jam. If you walked in on this song in the middle of the jam, you might not know what they were playing. They stepped outside the box a few times although not for very long. These excursions were just long enough for me to really feel the bliss on the return to Stash each time. For me Stash peaked in Fall 95 and this one is definitely worthy of checking out.
A beautiful Tela followed that added to the “far away in another time and place” feel to the concert. That’s right! I had to remind myself at this point that this was simply a concert and nothing more. If it had been more, I might have hopped off the boat and never returned to school.
Trey: “We’ll send this tune out to Mario Lemieux. This is for you. What a guy.” I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome…Nice! Mike got a cool little banjo solo followed by a mandolin solo by Fish. You can tell Fish was struggling a little and by the end of the solo he just strummed muted notes with an egg-beater strum. Lots of cheers and laughs after that. Trey: “So that’s kind of a funny song to send out to old Mario there but… Good song. I had vivid dreams of being able to play hockey like that guy. Ah, what the heck we’ll dedicate this one to him too. We called him up and asked him to come down. I don’t know if he’s here or not. If you’re here…”
This Maze is one of my favorites from the year. Lots of rip roaring guitar. For me the really good Mazes make me feel like I am not totally lost but am clearly struggling to find my way. Everything is dark when you suddenly think there is something familiar ahead. Just when you think you recognize what it is it turns creepy again. This must happen several times in Maze for me to really get off on it. When it is there, it is truly magnificent though. This one had everything I love about Maze. I even heard the cats fighting in the arena at one point in the jam.
A nice rockin’ Suzy to end off the set. If the band hadn’t got every single persons attention by this point they certainly did with Fish’s screams. There was a nice boogie’n solo by Page that sounded especially nice with Trey’s wah-wah over the top. Fish even threw in a “Ah, one time…” before his 3rd and final scream.
A smokin’ Chalk Dust opened the 2nd set and a blistering one at that. I prefer my Torture to go on for a little longer but the 3 minute jam at the end packs a lot of notes in. Trey hit some nice feedback in the middle for about 15 seconds that he pulled out of in a quick last second turn and the others were right there with him. I think that’s the little stuff that gets overlooked in a long jam sometimes. Some nice SRV licks toward the end of the solo. That was a hot start to a 2nd set.
Theme was pretty new here. Although it had been played about every 3 shows since May so it was well rehearsed and sounded pretty good for a new tune. I am glad this one got better in the years to come.
Like many Reba’s from the era this one is started at full throttle. That’s quite a commitment to start a song like this out so fast especially with the composed section following the verses and chorus. Whatever, this one worked and was flawless. The jam was good too. Nothing special or beyond normal but a normal Reba jam is more than just OK for me. The jam started off and then Trey began accenting different beats and playing the rhythm out of sync with the rest of the guys. Fish rebutted with some snare cracks that would have thrown off any decent musician. They got back on track suddenly and the jam began to move forward. Trey and Mike had some nice harmony interplay at about the 8:30 mark for a few bars that sounded really sweet. There was a nice repetitive thing happening about 10 min in that started to develop into something unique. It lasted about a minute but came back up to the Reba jam. No problem for me since I love the two chord Reba jam.
Catapult is actually a song here rather than something strange inside of another song or a jam. Trey boxed in his face with his hands at the end of the song during the “No love affair. No art to which none compares.” That definitely added to the strangeness of the song.
Scent of a Mule was a commonly heard song back in 1995 which is what it should have stayed. I love the individual solos in the dual. Trey did a very cool vocal harmony with what he was playing near the beginning of his solo. Lots of falsetto singing an octave up from what he was playing too.
This Bathtub Gin was all about the drums for me. Fish played unbelievable here. About 9 minutes in Trey returned to a variation of the standard Gin theme and then it dissolved into some fun with feedback. Mike began doing some SOAM type riffs, Page played some whimsical runs on the grand and Fish played some out of time fills in perfect time. Trey sent his feedback on a delay loop and headed over to the mini kit. Fish and Mike were soon locked in on a funky groove. All the while Page was throwing down on the grand. Trey returned to the guitar with some power chords at high reverb and for a short time we got what we hoped for. Mike and Fish continued with this funk groove that was too good for words and then Page returned to the Gin theme. It slowly evaporated and floated around into a strange haze of sonic weirdness that sounded like it could have come down into 2001 but instead it faded away.
Grab your acoustic and get in formation for the Acoustic Army in C major – I wish they’d bring out the arsenal again but I have a feeling that will forever stay in 1995.
Fish introduced the band and then introduced himself as Forrest Gump before starting Bike. This probably isn’t the most schizophrenic version but there was certainly nothing sane about it either. My favorite part was what sounded like a hysterically frightened and paranoid person giving the description of the “…thing things…things…things to make it look good.” That’s some crazy stuff there.
A short and solid Fee and rockin’ Julius to close out and it was a nice end to an ambitious and crazy set. I like a 2nd set to end with Trey tearing it up and that’s exactly what happened on Julius.
A two song encore with the Bowie classic Life On Mars? and The Osbourne Brother’s Rocky Top and it was a very happy crowd at the igloo.