While I'm still wired on caffeine, I figured I'd post a review. If you don't want to read the whole thing, just read the next sentence. SET II FROM TONIGHT WAS QUITE POSSIBLY THE BEST SET OF PHISH EVER IMHO. It was definitely the best I've heard live, and I've heard some nice sets (the Went, 12/29/94 II, 12/30/93 II).
As usual, the setlist comes first:
11/29/97 Worcester Centrum, Worcester, MA
Set I (~80 min)
The Wedge, Foam, Simple> TMWSIY> Alvenu Malkenu> TMWSIY, Sloth, Ginseng Sullivan, I Saw It Again, Horn, Water In The Sky, David Bowie
Set II (~95 min, elapsed time after certain points)
Runaway Jim> "Type II Hose Jam" =)(48 min)> Weekapaug Jam*> Jam (58 min), Strange Design, Harry Hood> Prince Caspian, Suzie Greenberg
E: (~15 min)
Buffalo Bill> Drum Solo> Moby Dick**, Fire
*No vocals, just the main riff
**Led Zepplin Cover (1st time played?)
[My scene and security comments from last night apply here too.]
On to the review:
THE WEDGE A fun opener, nothing special.
FOAM Well played, I hadn't heard it for a while. Pretty standard, I think. Stop-start "segue" into...
SIMPLE After what became of this song at the Went, I probably will never be satisfied with a standard Simple again. And that's what this one was. A pretty normal jam that ended up as...
TMWSIY I don't think they have played this for a while, and it showed. Plenty of flubs by Trey. They got it together for the standard segue into...
ALVENU MALKENU In contrast with TMWSIY, this was played perfectly. Which isn't to say it was anything but standard.
TMWSIY The second stab at this song was played flawlessly. It's a really pretty song if there are no mistakes :-)
SLOTH This is a fun song, but pretty standard. There isn't really anywhere to go with it.
GINSENG SULLIVAN Well done, my favorite of the bluegrass tunes. So far this set is pretty standard all around.
I SAW IT AGAIN Now we're talking. The jam out of this song kicks ass, as does the lighting that accompanies it. I've only heard one other version (7/1/97), and this one seemed to have a longer jam. This is the Phish song you test your speakers with.
WATER IN THE SKY Same as the Went. Sappy as all hell, and this time I didn't have my girlfriend to put my arm around ;-)
DAVID BOWIE A little (2 min or so) spacey intro lead into Bowie. This is basically the only song worth mentioning in this set (well, I saw it again was worthwhile too). I'd put this Bowie on a level with 12/11/95, that is, kick ass and fun to hear, but nothing we haven't heard before. It saved the set from being a disappointment, IMO.
Set I rating: 4.5 (without the Bowie, I shudder to think what I would have given it)
Setbreak Music: Don't remeber, really. A woman singing to a hip-hop beat.
We had no idea that a rather mediocre set would lead to what it did in...
RUNAWAY JIM This song started off like it always does, with no hint of what was to come. The first jam was about what you would expect. But the outro - this went on for about 10 min, while still on the Jim Theme and Beat. When it wavered from the theme, I called what happened next the...
TYPE II HOSE JAM This jam had at least 5 distinct sections (movements, if you will). I drew the line between these sections by the changing of the drum beat, you might be able to count more. Let me just say that this jam will forever allow us to tell people what Type II jams and "the hose" are. There was a little bit of space in here, but most of the Jam was a full-out assault on your mind, with all of the band joining in. At times, Trey would let Page take the lead. Mike layed down a nice bass line the whole Jam, spanking it every now and then, and leading the rest of the band. But Trey definitely was the Star here, using plenty of effects, and layering his sound beautifully. The "movements" would be separated by a deconstruction of whatever theme they were jamming on, and then a new drum beat by Fishman. It is SO HARD to get this jam across in words; the time and awe of those in attendance should speak for itself. After the fifth movement, the drum beat changed once again to what I thought was Runaway Jim. I was wrong. (48 min to this point)
WEEKAPAUG JAM When I thought the jam would go back into Jim, I was very surprised to hear the full on beginning of Weekapaug, minus the bass solo and the words. They jammed on the Week theme for a bit, and then headed into a typical Weekapaug Jam, which then became just a regular old...
JAM All traces of Weekapaug were lost, and it was time to jam again. Thiswas rather short, and slowed down into a spacey effects-laden stew that ended the Runaway Jim to end all Runaway Jims. Grand total: 58 min. I thought that perhaps this would be the whole set. I was wrong again.
STRANGE DESIGN followed, and allowed everyone to enjoy Page's voice and cool down. Played in normal concert style, not CD single style like I wish they would do it.
HARRY HOOD A very nice Hood. But aren't they all? Again, I have trouble with comparing different Hoods, but this one got me VERY emotional, what with all that had transpired in the set so far. At the beginning of the jam segment, right after the "Thank you Mr. Hood" when the lights change, I almost broke down with joy. Isn't Phish great? After the "You can feel good" part, Trey circled his finger to get the rest of the band to keep going. They held the final note until Trey started to play the opening to...
PRINCE CASPIAN A perfect choice to close the set (or so I thought). Nothing spectacular here, but in the afterglow of the Jim, it felt real good. It was sort-of a collective smoke after the sex of the earlier Jam
SUZIE GREENBERG IIRC, this was one of the "retired" songs. Even if it wasn't, the opening was botched like it had been. I thought they were going to abandon it and start over, but they pulled it together. Page had a nice jam in there, and Fishman supplied the screams where necessary. Trey finished up saying something like "Thanks for coming, sorry we didn't get to Destiny Unbound" This seemed like a joke to me, because who in their right mind would have rather heard destiny than what WAS played tonight?
Encore (~15 min)
BUFFALO BILL Fishman played the opening Drum beat to this a couple times, but the rest of the band just kind of sat there. Then Trey said "Now we are going to play Fishman's favorite song" Buffalo Bill followed, and ended up in a...
DRUM SOLO Trey told Fishman to "Take it away" or something here, and he did. A little drum solo lead into...
MOBY DICK This was a real treat! Has it been played before? I think John Bonham might be a little better at the ego-stroking rock-n-roll drum solo than Fishman, but he held his own. This song was really tight, and it was obvious that they know it well.
FIRE I couldn't believe there was yet another song in the encore, but I was happily surprised. Trey was on fire (sorry :-) in this, similar to the way he played J. B. Goode on 11/28. Great encore!
Set II and E rating: 10! (I don't give this grade lightly. YMMV, however. I'm a big fan of long-ass jams. I love the Fleezer, for example. If you think the Ball is better than the Went, you won't agree with me here. And also, you are deaf ;-)
Complete Show Rating: 9 (They played a first set? Seriously, get the second set, but you'll probably have to get the 1st as well to hear the encore due to the length. So enjoy the whole thing! If you care, the average of the sets is 7.25)
Man, I need to go to bed, the coffee is wearing off.
If I Recall Correctly