Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
 Phish debut.
Average Song Gap: 6.12
Notes: This show marked the debut of Carini and the Phish debut of Soul Shakedown Party. Page teased Tequila in Bathtub Gin. Carini contained a YEM tease. This show was officially released as part of the Amsterdam box set.
Songs by Debut Year:
This show was part of the "1997 Winter European Tour."
The second set of this show, as with many shows, is where the most compelling improvisation takes place. Followers of Kevin Shapiro's From the Archives broadcasts had already heard the heralded Down with Disease -> Carini -> Taste -> Down with Disease sequence in soundboard quality, but this remastered edition is really spectacular. Coil to open is its usual mesmerizing self, replete with piano outro by Page legitimately segue-ing into DWD. Phish take an approach with the DWD jam that reminds me of '95, but in hindsight I can't help but notice how it anticipates the watershed event of 3/1/97 and the stylistic turn towards funk that would become the theme of 1997. Carini is debuted, and has many fascinating qualities for a phanatic: this debut version's verses feature a piano riff that recalls Manteca, to my ears; more shredding follows, echoing the effervescence of the first set's Divided Sky but with the additional friendly menace of Carini's minor key; then a loopy section with Trey making use of his Boomerang phrase sampler; that finally winds down (or up?) into a blissed-out section to conclude the jam and segue into Taste. Taste is typically masterful--really one of my favorite Phish compositions, and a real showcase for Fish's drumming prowess--and builds into a peak before the Phish from Vermont return to DWD for a quick reprise of that tune's ripping coda. Suzy > Caspian, E: Monkey > Top is nothing to sneeze at, but the previous approximate hour of music is really where this show is at for me. I rated this show 5 out of 5 stars primarily because of the stylistic smorgasbord of jamming on display, but also because 2/17/97 has an X factor of connectedness in the interplay and listening between the four men we know and love that notches it high on my shows listened to. I think the choice to present the 3 '97 Amsterdam shows together for the box set was inspired, and I'm torn as to whether I can prefer any one of the 3 or even this show over the two-night run from July 1st & 2nd or vice versa, but you get a lot of bang for your buck whatever's your pleasure!
The first set has standard playing, but a very fun setlist. Definitely an above average Divided Sky, and Bathtub Gin reminds me of a 3.0 version with a very solid type-I peak.
Set 2 is one of the better sets of the tour. As everyone has mentioned, the fireworks occur in the DWD->Carini->Taste->DWD section. In particular, the end of the Carini jam contains some of the more beautiful Phish jamming you'll ever hear. Where was this the last few nights? Some might be dismayed by the Caspian set ender, but they were nailing this song night in and night out this tour.
Get set I if you like the setlist, but you'd be a fool to not hear set II.
Set I is solid.
Soul Shakedown is always fun (and usually foreshadows greatness!!)
Divided Sky is a nice version for sure. Definitely worth a listen if you like that tune.
Wilson is rocking.
My Soul kinda sucks, but that's just cuz I don't like the song and they played it so damn much in this era.
Guyute is pretty strong and I am a fan of the song.
Timber(Jerry) is great, such an awesome song and this version is pretty good.
Billy Breathes is a nice ballad. Some people don't like it, but I think it's damn beautiful and I'll take it in the ballad slot.
Llama is firey and good fun.
Bathtub Gin isn't overly exploratory, but this version is still tons of fun at around 13 minutes or so.
Golgi is a nice set closer.
Overall it's a pretty in the box set, but has some good song selection. Nothing you absolutely need to grab though.
Set II on the other hand is a legendary performance.
Squirming Coil opens up in the weirdest placement! I love this song, and they eventually climb back to their instruments in the cool outro jam to drop into Disease.
Disease is a monster. They crush the tune and melodic jamming section with aplomb. This baby starts to get down and dirty and the funky jamming is super raw. It's a total monster and the jam is amazing with an absolute gold medal -> Carini.
Carini is rough around the edges (hey it's the debut!), but this jam is transcendent. It hits so many spaces from upbeat to speed funk to effects laden craziness. It's all great, but the last 4 minutes or so is mana from heaven. It's why we do this. It's why Phish is unparalleled. 100% full band glory. -> Taste with another perfect segue.
Taste is by the books, but serves as a table setter for the giddy return into DWD. Fire, absolute fire.
Well that was about as good as it gets.
Suzy>Caspian, Monkey>Rocky Top are an afterthought and provide a nice way to just come down after that amazing performance.
If you haven't heard this show by now, shame on you. If you have, give it another listen right now! 5/5