The smoking First Tube was an appropriately Michael Phelpsian opener instantly engaging the crowd by getting everybody locked in. The closing delay loops melted into Jibboo in a manner that should be indicated by an > and not a comma. Nice little false segue into a song that thematically drew together the songs on either side of it. Taking the energy a step down before the gorgeous Corrina sent ripples through the chocolate skies.
Birds wasn't in Type II form tonight but nicely fulfilled it's role as the middle-period Chalkdust Torture. Trey lays some nice skronky licks down at the beginning of this jam and bases a lot of his riffs around fragments of the main riff of Birds. He gets some really nice mileage out of this tactic and the whole jam has a shify dark blue vibe to it despite ostensibly just being a mid-set rage up.
After Birds, Phish fires up their first original reggae song since Makisupa Policeman. God I miss Windora Bug. Along with Ain't Love Funny and I Don't Care, this is one of the songs I'd want to see the most despite having no hope of doing so. There just isn't much support behind these guys. Not old enough to fulfill the bustout enthusiast, not played in high profile enough spots to really have genuine fan salivation behind them. I remember during the Sanity/Makisupa/First Tube encore at MPP thinking for SURE it was Windora and not Makisupa. c'est la vie. Bundt Cake. The post-97 period is a great time for Makisupa mini-jams and that carries over into the Windora Bug with a few minutes of some nice dubby spaciness between the penultimate and final choruses.
The Antelope isn't one that's going to stand up above the fray for any reason other than Tom & His daughter singing the ending lyrics, but Page has some excellent angular chords tossed into the buildup to the crescendo. Golgi. Bittersweet. Yup, sets have to end I guess.
The second set battles the following night's magnum opus at MPP for the unquestioned champion of this tour. This Piper doesn't quite shift right into orgasm mode right after the lyrics and instead takes its time, man it's a great way to do it. Not long after we've already dropped down into a jam that sounds like when a Birds jam shifts into jazzier Type II territory. Still quick drumming but spaced out and spooky. This Piper is extremely textural and ambiance based yet never loses his propulsion thanks to Fishman's nimble beats. Similar to the MPP Rock & Roll, it's a great way to get a 2nd set started. Melting into Lizards is quite a way to finish a long improv segment. Lizards isn't the tightest..but really, what isn't a little bit sloppy between February 1997 and Coventry?
Tube comes next, and again in a precognitive mirroring of the following show at MPP and it's stellar mid-set Mango, we get the best version of a song that's had a jam less than 10% of it's total performances. This Tube funks its way into some sweet syncopation about 5 minutes in, dives into the Bluesy theme around 6:30. I love how the delay loops afterwards convinced so many people we weren't going to have another Tube Reprise jam, and after about a minute, the funk drops. This melts into some jazzier spaces before turning into a dark bluesy death march around 12 minutes in. Reminiscent of Whipping Post or maybe The Other One, if you're a fan of classic rock touchstones. We've picked up speed by 13 minutes in and by 13:20 Fishman hits the nastiest beat. I hate to keep bringing the next show up, but it really reminds me of the MPP Dog Log. These shows felt like mirrors of each other a dozen years ago, and they still do. Unfortunately that beat gets tossed aside for a minute of directionless jamming before suddenly the jam lifts off the ground and starts thrashing around and hitting that mind shattering peak like so many millenial Piper/DWD/R&R jams did. This hyperdrive doesn't last overlong like so many of those songs did around this time and quickly mellows out into a stellar segue into Circus.