, attached to 1997-11-17

Review by n00b100

n00b100 There are days where I just want to pack it in and say "you know what? This is the best show of Fall '97, and by proxy the best Phish show ever"; those are usually the days that I'm listening to this show. Now, I still firmly believe that it's not, but when I'm putting it on and that Ghost is washing over me...my God, it's hard to stand firm, it really is.

I'm a really big fan of "less song" sets (one of the reasons why I haven't quite warmed to earlier Phish yet - they seem to just be cramming songs in frat-boy-in-phone-booth style), mainly because you know there's some hardcore jamming in store. This famous first set might be the prototypical example of that kind of logic - you get the minimalist funk of Tweezer with the band locking into a tight groove and Trey casually soloing instead of going for broke '95 or even '11 style, a warm and relaxing Reba, and that damn Ghost, which really starts soaring at the 10 minute mark and stays in the stratosphere until the end. Sets rarely come as perfect, both in terms of jamming, song selection, and pacing (the short songs are perfectly placed - a breather after the opening epics, and a, erm, fiery closer to end things).

The second set, well, is not quite as good, but that's like saying a slice of cold pizza is worse than a slice of hot pizza - you may be right, but you're still eating pizza. The DWD absolutely *rages* (it's the ferocious yin to that opening Tweezer's yang), the jam out of Johnny B. Goode (!) roams all over the map before settling on a gentle Page-led outro (Page might very well be the MVP of this show, IMO), and YEM offers one more funk blast before devolving into an amusing vocal jam. A fun way to close a really, really good set.

Is it the best of Fall '97? I'll stick with no (the tour is just so absurdly stacked), but it's in my personal top 5, and maybe in the top 3. As has been explained numerous times, Fall '97 was not just about the funk, but about Phish exploiting a new style of playing to its fullest, discovering how to make more out of less instead of just making more, all the while still being recognizably Phish. Shows like this display just how incredibly well they succeeded.

One last note - how hilariously bad is All Music Guide's review of this show?
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