There's a reason why @brainstemblast starts his / her review at the beginning of the second set. The first set is just fine mind you, though this is before the Fall '97 "there are no first sets anymore" era, i.e., this is definitely a run-of-the-mill first set. Dogs Stole Things was played for the *fourth* consecutive show. In July '93 they lived by the "one set every night starts with 2001" motto, but I can't think of another song since then that's seen this many repeats in a row, though I'm sure if anyone serious vets are reading this they can immediately debunk that notion. First set gives the recently debuted Water in the Sky and Vultures another run-through, and there's a typically awesome Maze -- as an aside, does Maze ever suck? But I digress... Jesus Fucking Christ does the second set start off in astounding fashion! The first 35 minutes of the set are nothing short of epic. I'll spare you the detailed description of Stash, as the other reviewer already did that in spades, but all you need to know is Stash -> Stash Jazziness -> Uncensored Pornographic Cow-funk -> Ghost -> Sloooooowly Melting the Skin Off Your Face Ghost Space Jam -> Saw It Again. This is only the third ever Ghost and they're already causing serious infarction of the vital organs of audience members. Did I mention that all of those "->" are LEGIT and flawlessly executed? And though this is the only Ghost / Saw It Again pairing that ever happened, they're thematically, lyrically, and musically a match made in heaven. Normally seeing a Piper later in a set like this would make one seriously contemplate putting on a condom before walking into the show, to, you know, prevent any mess, just in case, but this is more of a blue-baller than its debut: it's just a shade over 4 minutes long. In fact, they didn't really figure out Piper until they played the Pistons on 12/6 -- but when they did figure it out, they figured the shit out of it. Despite Piper not shining, Caspian really does, with a nice extended intro taboot. And I don't generally like Caspian but this one's up there with the best versions ever really. Interestingly, if the last four songs of the second set sound a little monotonous and unvaried, it might be because all the songs are in 'G'. The encore is fine -- in my experience it's rare for Phish to do anything epic in the encore (there are of course exceptions, like my favorite show, 12/30/97, but it's best not to expect getting your pants blown off with a four song funk-filled encore). This show's got a little imbalance to it, with consistent but unspectacular playing before and after the top shelf Stash -> Ghost -> Saw It Again segment, but god damn if you haven't heard it yet, go ahead and yank that bit from the Spreadsheet now and thank me later. This is one of those "3 stars for the vast majority of the show, 5 stars for the rest" type gigs, so if you're into weighted averages, this show is rated more or less correctly (3.3 stars as of this review).
Stash opens the second set in standard fare (though Trey starts it off key) before it launches into a melodic section from about the 5:00 mark to 11:30. Some really great interplay here with Page on the grand piano dancing around Trey's circuitous melodies. Around 12 minutes though things start to really pick up and Fish focuses his jazzy beat on a splash/crash symbol which lays down some crunchy texture. Mike picks up on the new textural groove and adds the synth (laser) effect to his bass. All four of them become more intertwined in a wall of sound effect, Trey ramps up the distortion a bit in here. 13:15, Mike switches back to his normal bass sound. Fish still wailing on the crash symbol incessantly - almost a jazzy hard metal sound. Page is still jazzily chording on the piano laying down a melodic base for Trey to wail on top of. 14:23 mark there's a return of sorts to the Stash theme and looks like it could be closing out here - all that's missing is the closing vocals (oh ah oh ah oh!). 14:55 though things dissolve and become more sparse. Fish lays off the crash. Short tight melody in here, stuttering notes from Page, Trey. By 15:00, Trey jumps on the wah pedal and it's clear this is going to a funk phase. This may be more of a Stash -> Jam from the way it jumped out of the Stash ending. Page noodles on the keyboards. Fish starts hammering out a syncopated snare beat with Trey steadily porn funkingly chording out a dance groove. 16:21 Mike turns on his Lovetone Meatball envelope filter pedal. This is seriously funky in here, yet dark and quiet. Fish is creating a circular drum pattern swirling around the whole set seemingly, from cowbell to woodblocks. Total texture fest at this point - Al Green just walked in. Then at 17:11 another change as Fish breaks into a standard 4/4 rock beat. Plenty of space to fill in this funk jam as well. Mike still dropping bombs with the Lovetone. Page on the clavinet working away steadily. Starts developing into a start/stop funk jam. Minimal funk slaughter at 18:37. Page switches over to organ and fills in nicely with Mike on the low end. 19:23 the jam opens up a bit and comes out of the stop/start mode. Trey moves away from the wah chording and starts noodling on top of Mike who's know slapping furiously with his normal bass tone. 20:12 steady groovy funk. Stop at 20:23. Stop at 20:33. Page back on organ with more stop and start funk. 20:52, Trey jumps back on to the wah pedal for funk chording supported by Page's funky hammond work. 21:22 Mike switches to his synth effect. Fish groans momentarily which signals (?) a smooth as funk transition into only the second ever performance of Ghost. Wow. If you're a fan of funk Phish and groove laden jams, do yourself a favor and seek this one out. The Ghost is also interesting as well with a demented swirling spiral jam that lasts only about 9 minutes before segueing into I Saw It Again. This my friends is one of the birthplaces of the Phish funk movement that will last for the next three years of their career.
Pretty decent show. Stash had some funkiness to it, that segued beautifully into Ghost. Everyone praises the Stash > Ghost > Saw It Again combo, but please don't overlook the fantastic Prince Caspian. What a way to close out the second set! With an delayed intro and some heavy melodic jamming from Trey, this version would be a great addition to your Caspian collection.
The previous two reviews have it: this show is all about the second set. Stash -> Ghost -> Saw It Again is must hear. The back end of Stash is very funky and the segue into Ghost is flawless. Ghost is like a precursor, 14 years earlier, mind you, to the Blossom Possum (June 4, 2011). Both jams feature that same lethargic slowing down effect. Definitely check out Ghost if you like the Blossom Possum. Saw It Again is just a sweet tune to cap off the previous 30 minutes of Grade A Phish. Plus it's segued into, which makes it even better!
It could be argued that the second have of the set peter's out, which, in terms of must-hear-ness, it does, but I'd say it still makes a pretty cohesive whole with the first half. It was, after all, only Wading's third performance ever. A fact that makes that song much more palatable for me. Piper is super short, but still enjoyable, and JJLC is good as usual. I even liked this Caspian quite a bit. This is one of my favorite sets from Summer Europe '97.
As for the first set, there's nothing that needs to be heard. Personally, I *really* like Summer Europe '97, so I totally enjoyed it, but there's nothing that stands out from the ordinary. Now, if we could combine the next night's first set with this night's second set we'd have one hell of a show! However, those sets are in fact separated by 24 hours and 330 kilometers. Be that as it may, I'll take'm as they are, it's all just great music!
Sometimes It takes a show or two for the guys to get their footing. This tour seems to take a little longer than usual to really get started in my opinion. There are several possible reasons for this. 1.) They have a ton of new material a lot of which will end up on "Story of The Ghost" and a few on "Farmhouse". 2.) They are playing in a totally different country. Yes a lot of folks came across the pond to see them play these shows. But maybe there was a need for them to tend to people who were maybe not as familiar as those following them in the states. Either way they're not playing bad at all so it's not that big of a deal.
The show kicks off with LxL and Dogs Stole Things. Two of the most played songs so far. Not too much of a difference besides the tightening each time they were played. Theme once again delivers they have been on fire with the last couple of them. I like the lightening fast segue into PYITE they were definitely in tune for that. Maze is very good with some nice "Cool Jerk" type teases. Waste has a especially strong ending to it.
Stash starts the 2nd set. It is there first true dip into some jamming this tour. It escalates into a tense jam with some great work by Page. It mellows out into a nice jam led by Fish and what sounds like a germ of what will become Black Eyed Katy. Nice segue into Ghost, it's interesting to think that the intro to Ghost will change quite a bit and this is one of the few segues that goes into the quick funk into of Ghost. Strong Jesus Left Chicago Trey just goes off. Caspian ends the set on a very gorgeous note, it is very inspired.
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