Phish debut.
 lyrics were changed to "Been you to have any spike tongue" and Marco Esquandolas was changed to "The Jersey drunk."
Ain’t Love Funny made its Phish debut at this show and was played out of an odd, atypical jam that grew out of Horn. Antelope's lyrics were changed to "Been you to have any spike tongue" and Marco Esquandolas was changed to "The Jersey drunk." Ghost included San-Ho-Zay teases from Trey. Julius contained a brief Stairway to Heaven tease from Trey.
This first set is one of the must-hear sequences of Europe '97, from the dancefreak rave-up into Cities to the unearthly quiet of Horn > Funny > LxL. Phish just never play sets like this in the U.S. - they can't, in those big rooms and country sheds - so the small-venue shows of winter and summer '97 showcase an important side of the band that still might be new to today's fans. In this show and the July 1-2 triumph at the Paradiso we see an experimental alternate-universe Phish embracing delicate minimalism but not yet wedded to their crisp stateside funk. Don't you wanna go?
Taste rules. Taste really ruled in 1997. European Tastes from 1997? They seem to be the cream of the crop (even though Trey fucks this one up during the final build, which I hate to admit isn't out of the ordinary). Nice start to the show, and rather than jumping into another tune, they start jamming in a way that in some ways hints at the Absinthe-soaked mushroom Wormtown jamming that would come less than two weeks later in Amsterdam. Tonight it works, though apparently the green liquid got them into trouble the next time they came to Prague with that god-awful 7/5/98 show. And like Taste, Cities just seems to work so well in Europe. Obviously the London appearance was at least lyrically topical ("Think of London / small city"), but it works great here too -- this is kind of a "fast funk" version that's a lot more like than the original than other Phish renditions of the Talking Heads tune. Cities has an atypical ending before they start honking the Horn. This Horn is great, and has a nice outro that leads into the debut of Ain't Love Funny which drifts into an interesting mood before evolving into LxL, which itself devolves into a jam with a much harder edge to it, which quickly reassembles itself into I Don't Care (which was never played again). @waxbanks has it right -- this first set is sick! And it's a major departure from the previous night's going-through-the-motions first set. They meant business. RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN! The whole set is teetering on the edge of being out of control the whole time, making Antelope a particularly apt choice for the set closer -- and to lend a bit more suspicion to my Absinthe claims, Trey says "The Jersey Drunk" instead of "Marco Esquandolas" -- perhaps it's self-referential? My guess is that "Been you to have any spiked tongue?" refers to the popularity of tongue piercings in the late '90s funk scene in Prague. Ok I just made that shit up.
I'm surprised this Bowie isn't on the jam chart actually. It's pretty awesome and gets waaaaay out there and rocks pretty hard, and they don't reel it back in till past the 17 minute mark. I know this isn't exactly contrarian of me to say this, but I absolutely love the 20+ min. second set opener. I wish every show featured it. And then to follow up this huge Bowie with Ghost (4th ever)? That's a solid 34 minutes of awesomeness to open the second set -- and is an especially great continuation of the momentum of the first set. Though this Ghost is longer than the previous night's, it doesn't get as wild. It sort of rolls along nicely, slowly picking up steam, and coming to what would become a typical peak around the 10 minute mark before a full band halt a minute later. Twist gives them one last chance to really shine, and for a new tune, it's extremely gratifying to hear it click for them so quickly (same goes for Ghost -- Instant Classics!). After listening to my fair share of Twists recently, I think I actually like the old opening better -- the build-up to the main riff works better than the immediate introduction and repetition of the riff that we hear in modern day versions (every version from late '99 onward AFAIK). The only thing of note from BAtR through Rocky Top is the supposed Stairway tease by Trey in Julius -- I hear it at 4:45 but I think it's one note short of being differentiated from just some standard pentatonic Julius jamming. This is a rock solid 4 star Phish show, with the best first set of the tour to date and another strong opening to the second frame. Here come the festival sets, which are typically more about fan-acquisition and song accessibility than they are about h3tty jamZ.
It's funny talking about how the *second* set is the pretty good one and the first set is the monster, but this is one of those precious few shows where that's the case, so we'll start from the 2nd frame. Bowie starts off contemplative, almost Hood-like in its jam, then gets off-kilter like it's 1994 again and crashes into a heavy-metal jam, Trey's guitar tone dark and menacing; thankfully, instead of an 11/30/97 Wolfman's metal sludgefest, the fellas wind back into the regular Bowie jam and head home. The Ghost that follows is a slow, loping funk beast (with a ferocious ending that amusingly stops on a dime) that shows Phish still working their way through what Ghost could be, something that they'd have locked down a week later in Amsterdam and turned into a science when they got back to the States. For whatever reason, the rest of the set is "song" songs, which is perfectly fine if an odd choice, save for a Twist that rolls into a oddly minimal, Mike-heavy jam before a triumphant to the main Twist theme. It's good stuff, and quite gratifying to see Twist and Ghost in their gestation stage, but nothing particularly essential.
The first frame, on the other hand, is quite reminiscent of 8/28/12's marvelous second set, although with even more ridiculous song selection (Ain't Love Funny was only played 3 times, and I Don't Care would never be played again), and flows just as beautifully as that 3.0 masterwork. Taste opens things up and clangs along in fine Taste fashion, and then from its ending comes an eerie digital delay loop jam, Laser Floyd sound effects, and then a *weird* and funky jam that you would never hear outside Europe shows or soundchecks. It's so odd that it almost demands listening, and from that the group (surprisingly naturally) segues into a sprightly, uptempo Cities. Cities peters out in a really interesting manner, and Trey fires up Horn.
Horn acts as a neat bit of transition, as THAT song's ending goes sparse and lovely before segueing into Ain't Love Funny. Ain't Love Funny really feels like a Europe '97 kind of song, relaxed and low-key and full of interesting possibilities. And the band explores those possibilities here, as a gorgeous minor-key groove emerges (with Mike leading the way) and envelopes the crowd with surprising warmth. Fish's drumming (he is so good during this show) gets more polyrhythmic, and Limb by Limb worms its way out of the jam, a good but standard version that ends in a big arena-rock fashion and then segues into I Don't Care. I Don't Care is fine, if not particularly distinguished (no surprise it was shelved after this show), but it ends with a buzzing, almost uncomfortable, almost ambient loop jam, instruments floating in and out of the ether, yet another crazy ending to a song in a superb suite of music. A typically good Antelope closes out a monster of a set.
You shouldn't skip the second set by any means, but the first set, one of the most meticulously *crafted* sets I've ever heard Phish play, is absolutely essential listening. As always, @waxbanks says it best - this is an alternate universe Phish, one that may not have been as big as they were by the end of the decade, but one that (dare I say it?) might have turned out to be even more musically interesting. Give this show a download, and hear the road not taken.
First of all, this show has a tremendous setlist. You have the new songs, the classic songs, the slow songs, the fast songs, literally a great combo of everything.
But there's something intimate about that first set that's pretty rare for a Phish show. The outro of both Cities and Horn have an almost nostalgic feel to them. And then they hit us with the classic JJ Cale song "Ain't Love Funny" (which was a Phish debut this night). The guys stay pretty true to the original, yet leave us with a cozy and passionate feeling for the mellow mood. They then finish off the set flawlessly with a LxL > I Dont Know > Antelope.
The second set also has its moments, with a funky version of Twist as well as a fabulous Julius in which Trey hits the high note perfectly. Definitely don't pass up on this great show!
Things are gradually coming together jam and set construction wise!
Taste is a nice ripper to kick things off. The jam after is a super weird one, very nice and cohesive and of course a pretty good segue into Cities. Fish is all over cities although its pretty compact. Horn is pretty powerful. Ain't love funny is a pretty good sequence. The segue into LxL is just amazing so seamless, Lxl is still slowly growing. Another Chaotic I Don't Care. Antelope is strong as always to cap this pretty strong first set.
Bowie opens the second set and it's fairly strong. They stretch it out a bit and it is a little too noodley for my taste, but still has the weird & intense elements that Bowie should have. Ghost little by little gets more and more jammed out. This one has a nice groove. Trey is on fire at the end of it. Bye Bye foot although a slow ballad really works in this mid set, makes me wish they'd give it a spin again. Twist has a nice jam, first with Mike in the lead and then it mellows into a nice slow groove. Julius is strong.
Very straight forward encore.
Overall 2 pretty strong sets with a lot of interesting things to offer. I give this my 1st 4 star of this tour.
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