Phish debut; performed a cappella by Fish.
 Crew introductions and a mention of Antelope Greg.
This show marked the debut of Meatstick and the Phish debut of Cecilia, which was performed a cappella by Fish. The jam out of Disease included Can’t You Hear Me Knocking teases. McGrupp included Makisupa teases; the subsequent Makisupa was unfinished. Antelope included crew introductions and a mention of Antelope Greg.
Yup, this is the one I've been looking for. Sure, 6/20 and 6/24 are cool, but this is a much finer take than anything else up to this point on this tour. Coupla new songs out the gate, fine, but then, *again*, we get another f***ing awesome Taste. Respect. Continuing the Billy theme we get the title track, which has become somewhat of a rarity in the 2.0 / 3.0 era, followed by AC/DC bag, which is played all the time in 3.0 but at this point in 1.0 was more on the "every dozen shows" rotation than the "every three night run" rotation -- this was the first Bag in 17 shows, but there's no rust. It stays in the box but there is some nice typical Bag Type I jamming. Then we get another rarity, Old Home Place, and then, I'M TELLING YOU THEY'RE CONNECTED, we get Theme. Taste and Theme, Theme and Taste. The more I see these two beauties pop up in the same set, the more I want to nerd out and do some setlist statistics to find out the highest covariance Phish tunes -- I mean, obviously Mike's and Weekapaug, Silent and Horse, Swept Away and Steep, etc., will have the highest association, but I'm curious about other pairs one wouldn't think of intuitively. New song, new song, new song, My Soul, set break. Good not great, right? Wait till we hit round two...
DWD -> Piper -> DWD! (My reaction gif: http://goo.gl/1IXRy ). DWD covers a lot of ground, bouncing from idea to idea like many of the great DWDs do, before settling on an idea reminiscent of the -> between Wolfman's and JJLC on SSandP (3/1/97) -- I guess this is a European thing? Anyway, that slowly dissolves and we're left with a short but energetic Piper, which builds and builds and where it would normally explode into a 15 minute Piper jam, it explodes back into the DWD theme! Yes! Do yourself a favor and check this out, the segue is silky smooth and cathartic as f***, and for good measure they polish the DWD off. Hell of a half hour to start the set. And without skipping a beat, we get the debut of Meatstick! Kind of. It's more Meatstick lyrics over a hybrid DWD / Low Rider jam (the Meatstick in its current form wasn't laying sausage till 7/3/99, the second time it was played), which then segues perfectly into McGrupp. These segues are *perfect*, thankyouverymuch. This McGrupp is a reggae version, and is totally unique with Makisupa teases throughout and lots of speaking / yelling instead of singing before the final Page-jam-initiated outro takes a more traditional McGrupp form. Right after McGrupp Trey unleashes the sirens that would trick me into thinking Ghost was coming up, but they fade a bit and Makisupa proper rises from the ashes. Keyword: Nug. Trey shows off a bit of his French during the groove as well, and I have no French skills but I believe he's trying unsuccessfully to say "Policeman" in French. Makisupa is unfinished and fades away, and without an HYHU introduction, Fishman sings the parts of (the first and only) Cecilia he can remember. It's a weird moment but strangely nice. We get the obligatory HYHU and another Fishman song, Rock a William, before Antelope sums up the antics of the previous set. "Rye Rye Rocco / Antelope Greg / Been you to have any spike man?" Guyute is the icing on the cake and it's nailed. Nice work boys. This is a proper 4 star show and easily the best second set of the tour. As @waxbanks says, you don't really need to hear the first set, but the second set is worth the download or stream.
A party show, complete with charming Fishman song(!!!!), Disease reprise, and big bold segues in the second. This was an early fan favourite in Europe, nicely foreshadowing the grassy-field gaiety of Summer '97 and the huge party at the Went. The first set is inessential, as I recall, but now that the XL-II era is done you needn't make that choice anymore. Huzzah!
We arrived in Lille after a three-hour train ride from Strasbourg. It was pouring rain, and after finding no hostels, we found a cheap hotel and an even cheaper bottle of red wine on our way to the venue. L'Aeronef was a disco/rave club located on the third floor of this mall-like structure near the train station. There was a bar right outside the club, and everyone was there drinking before the show. We were all waiting by a set of doors that we thought led into the club when someone looked over and saw people going in another set of doors. Dave, Tom, and I promptly jumped up and ran over. We proceeded to walk right in and were literally the fifth, sixth, and seventh people inside the venue. "I must be in the front row!" There was a railing and the stage was higher (about six feet), but the venue was smaller than Strasbourg. The place gradually filled up, but even fifteen minutes before the show started you could find a seat within twenty feet of the stage!
Phish came on and opened with a roaring "Oblivious Fool". This is a great opening song and a good way to get the crowd moving. We were briefly let down by "Dogs Stole Things", but the "Taste" that followed made up for it. Good God, what a "Taste"! This version reinforced my notion that this song (along with "Theme") will be Phish's next great jamming tune. Trey played his ass off during "Taste", and this version went for over ten minutes. Then we got "Billy Breathes", a song I had kind of forgotten about but was really glad to hear. And then came "AC/DC Bag". I looked down at my buddy Dave (who, for the first time in his life, was in the front row, dead center) and the smile on his face said it all. Before we left the states for tour, we were talking about songs we'd like to hear. He picked out three, one of which was "AC/DC Bag". I was really glad for him. "AC/DC" was very well played and had an intense build-up jam with Trey going crazy on lead. Right at the end when it got kind of slow, Mike launched in with "My Old Home Place". Of all the bluegrass songs Mike does, this has to be one of my favorites (along with "Uncle Pen").
After this short but sweet number by Mike, we got "Theme". Man, does it get any better than this? "Theme" was, well, extraordinary as usual. The jam out of this "Theme" covered some ground, as I closed my eyes and went along for the ride. After "Theme", the band could have called it a set and I would have been content. But no, they wanted to play more, which was just fine by me. "Wading in the Velvet Sea" followed (did someone sneak them a list of my favorite songs?) and though a little shorter than the previous night, it didn't disappoint. "I Saw it Again" came next (possibly the first minor letdown of the set, but well played nonetheless) and was followed by "Limb by Limb". "My Soul" closed the first set in rockin' fashion, with Trey belting out "My my my my my my my soul, it's my soul"...It's my soul people"...It's my soul." What a great way to finish the first set.
One thing that was wonderful about the first set was that no one was pushing or shoving and everyone had plenty of room to dance. Even up front on the rail, I had lots of room to move, and people respected your space. Not only was the crowd small (300 - œ350 people tops), but everyone was chilled out and that made for a much better time. I don't even remember seeing a security guard present, which was also nice. It is little things like this that help make a show better, and after that first set I couldn't wait for the second!
Boy, I was not let down. I'm sure that many of you have seen the setlist for this set, and I can tell you it sounded as good as it looks. It was one of the best sets of music I've seen by Phish. Mike opened with his thunderous intro and we were treated to "Down with Disease". I simply love Trey's guitar riff in this song, it's so damn catchy! A twenty-one-plus minute "DWD" segued into "Piper", which was a nice arrangement. The "Piper" was a little longer than usual, but towards the end it started to get a little spacey, and then Trey came back with that "DWD" riff. "Piper" segued back into "DWD" for a few minutes before heading into a new song sung by Fishman. I'd be tempted to call it "God is My Brain", and it goes "Time for the meat stick / Bury the meat stick / Take out the meat stick / Time. Oh, Oh, God is my brain." This weird number was mostly jamming with a few words thrown in. As of this writing, I'm not sure whether it's officially called "Time" or "Meatstick". (Of course, years later, the second title would prove correct - as well as the lyrics "shocks my brain".) The song flowed into "McGrupp", another treat and the first of tour. "McGrupp" went on and on and was very well played. At one point, Trey would yell, "He looks too much," and then lead the crowd to respond "Like Dave." Trey just kept shaking his fist in the air as he belted out those lines. "McGrupp" finally segued into "Makisupa Policeman". At this point I pinched myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. This reggae tune had everyone just kind of bobbing up and down with the beat, and toward the end a funny thing started to happen.
I noticed Trey take off his guitar and head over towards Fishman's drums. He then brought a stool out to the front of the stage. Trey took over for Fishman on drums, who came out and sat on the stool. Fishman had a towel on his thigh and proceeded to play the towel with a pair of drumsticks. Trey came back over and adjusted the microphones, so one mic was on the towel and the other mic was Fishman's vocal mic. As the band faded in the background, everyone got quiet as Fishman started playing his towel. The beat seemed obvious, but could it really be? "Oh Cecilia, you're breakin' my heart, you're shakin' my confidence daily"...." What the hell was going on? As everyone (including the band) watched, Fishman sang this Simon and Garfunkel classic. The only problem was that Fishman had a tough time with the words and screwed up most of the verses. In fact the crowd knew all the right words and happily sang along. Fishman looked like he was having a good time, and Page, Mike, and Trey were all grins as their buddy was front and center.
Once Fishman got up and took some bows, the rest of the guys launched into the "HYHU" jam. I get a kick every time I hear this, just recently learning the story behind it. But Fishman didn't go back over to his drum set; instead he picked up Trey's guitar and started doodling with it. After about a minute of doodling, Mike put down his bass and headed over to Page. Page let Mike sit down, and Page walked over and put on Mike's bass, which I must admit looked very funny on Page. But hell, Mike looked just as funny on piano! This little switch-instrument jam lasted a little over two minutes, and Mike managed to pull off a nice solo right before they went into "Rocko William".
As Fishman played at the guitar and made this evil-looking face, he sang this bluesy "Rocko William". The band sounded pretty good as a unit, but when Fishman tried to solo he couldn't quite lift off the ground. It was more like tinkering at a solo, but I was having such a good time laughing that it didn't really matter. The whole band looked like they were having a ball, and I know the crowd couldn't believe what they were seeing. After about five minutes, everyone put there instruments down and walked back to their original instruments. What next?
The answer was "Antelope", and quite an "Antelope" it was. Prague's was good, but this one is in a league by itself. As they had done all night long, Phish ascended to new levels while stretching this one out to fifteen minutes. At the end they kept jamming while saying thanks to the members of the crew and anyone else who happened to pop into Trey's mind at the time. Could this show finally be over? What could they encore with? I must say I wasn't even remotely prepared for the "Guyute" encore. I had heard this song twice before and secretly hoped I'd hear it again. But I never imagined a "Guyute" encore. All I can say is that it was well played.
The second set ran about ninety-one minutes, and was one fine set of Phish. In retrospect, Lille was probably the best show I saw in Europe. It was rock solid from beginning to end. Phish had fun, the fans had fun, and it was truly an intimate experience with the band. Get the tapes of this show!
Anyone who is interested in shows that showcase the antics of Phish (fans of MPP 7/27/14 II) with fresh and unique takes on old numbers are going to love set II. The kick off is a highpowered romp that starts to dig, and deep it goes. Who knew the controls were set to the center of the earth for this one. Who knew the center of the earth was a shockingly silly, hilarious and deranged Phish show? I digress. The meatstick debut-- completely different than any other version every played, segues masterly into THE most different uncanny improvised version of McGrupp, how does it sound? well I will preface this whole review by reminding you that this was the part of summer 97 when the band was reaching their apex of otherworldly swamp on the edge of a black hole sound (read: Paradiso 7/1 + 7/2), complete with audience participation encouraged by the band, this McGrupp is a once in a lifetime performance that in retrospect could only have been followed by the dance throw down-inside joke that is Makisupa. However we get it just after the dark predatory sirens that we come to now know as a ghost intro, (this is all dark humor afterall) and we get a raucous and banter filled Story of the... Nug. The mood and subterranean reggae feel had been rolling over the past fifteen minutes to set up the segue perfectly. Then, if you think the jokes couldn't get any stranger, ladies and gentleman the greasy troll comes out and sits on a chair and plays his drumsticks on a towel on his lap while trey mics them, and belts out Celicia- acapella, managing to go on and on while forgetting most of the words, per usual. This show is Phish as comedic magician, dazzling, confounding and leading up to a climax that will cut you in half for all to see... Then HYHU ensues, and after the expected victory lap finale fishman hops on guitar, subsequently, Mike hops on the Piano, and Page gets on the Bass. [There needs to be a Rotation Jam noted put into the notes of this show] After that they go into a haunting rendition of Rock A William. Given the strangeness of this show, this song just slays it as if drawing the ghost of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing "16 Tons" from inside the ground, maybe on the back of the worm. By now is this the longest stretch fishman has ever been on stage? Antelope brings the bivouac back towards the surface of the earth by climbing into a sonic slow ascent, with trey hanging on long notes, like in Maze but a 'slightly' different context. It is a harrowing mad dash for air. The show concludes with Trey thanking all sorts of people- Fans who like banter are going to love this. As an encore they break out Guyute. The thing is that gets forgotten all too often about Guyute is that when it was busted out in the beginning of it's life it had a magical reverence the song has certainly lost with age, (read: me, the jaded vet.) The first set is just a whole lot of fun with Summer 97 flare all over the place, but the second set is that carnival at the bottom of the Mariana trench we so rarely get brought to by the band.
One of the weirdest Post 93' 2nd sets I've ever heard.
Bag makes a strong tour debut. Saw it again is extra venomous very strong. Besides that I don't have much to say about set 1 basically because most of it is the songs they've played consistently every night. And all are played very well but nothing else really stands out.
Set 2 now is a whole different story. What a bizarre strange set, and it just doesn't end once it starts. I don't know what was in the Kool-Aid at setbreak but I'd try it at least once. The DWD jam gets into some thunderous funk. It speeds up going for a wild ride, then fizzles into some nice mucky funk. There jams are becoming more cohesive every show. It also makes a cool sandwich coming back from Piper. Super weird Meatstick section that sounds nothing like it would after. The segue into Mcgrupp is a great swampy mucky mess that is some kind of Makisupa McGrupp monster. Not much else I could say besides it being very very out there even for this time. Cecilla continues the bizarreness. And just to mess with you more Rock A. William comes in on the oddest note. This great set ends with a very strong Antelope.
How about a nice meaty Guyute encore? YES PLEASE!
The first set doesn't do a whole lot. But the 2nd more than makes up for it.
Pretty good show. We see some nice jamming from the band (and I mean heavy jamming at points!). Olivia's Pool is such a fun show opener followed by the upbeat DST. ACDC Bag has its funky moments while Limb By Limb finally shows us that it can shine in a set.
DWD is extensively jammed out, which is a nice tease just before they play two extremely short sets for their next two shows. McGrupp was quite interesting, as it definitely went down a path it never sees. Meatstick was incredibly cool to listen to because it was the first time it was played and because of how different it sounds today. This song's evolution could possibly be the most dramatic out of all their originals
The second set of this show is one of the all time greats in my opinion. If you love collecting and listening to shows you simply must have this one.
The set starts dubiously with flubbed lyrics in Disease, but musically the jams and transitions after that are out of control. The way the ragingest moment of Piper flips on a dime into the ragingest part of the Disease jam is one of those things that raises the hairs on my neck every time. This "debut" of Meatstick is more just the chorus over this strange hilariously rhythmic groove, but the way it just materializes out of the Disease jam is beautiful. Everything about the playing in this set is off the hook. McGrupp is one of those versions you don't forget, even with forgotten lyrics in Rockawilliam, the set is so awesome you don't care.
The Mockingbird Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Phish fans in 1996 to generate charitable proceeds from the Phish community.
And since we're entirely volunteer – with no office, salaries, or paid staff – administrative costs are less than 2% of revenues! So far, we've distributed over $1,000,000 to support music education for children – hundreds of grants in all 50 states, with more on the way.