, attached to 1995-06-10

Review by Anonymous

(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

My weekend was wedged nicely between a milk carton on the plane from Burlington that informed me that I could feel good about Hood, and hearing “Bouncing” on a Denver radio station on the way to the airport to fly home. I had a free flight (Frequent Flyer miles), and Phish was playing two nights at Red Rocks.
It was a clear day, and warm, despite the snow that had recently fallen in the mountains. I had stopped for lunch at a burrito place in Lakewood before driving up to the amphitheater, but I hadn't thought to pick up bottled water or anything for the show. It was a hot, dry wait in the stairway leading from the lower parking lot during soundcheck. A couple of women from California offered me sections of the oranges they had brought, and I accepted them gratefully. Eventually the gates opened and we flooded in.
The amphitheater at Red Rocks is fascinating. The seats lie between two rock walls whose red sandstone beds slope towards the stage at about the same angle as the rows of seats, which are really more like giant concrete steps. At the top of the amphitheater, the rock walls end abruptly, and the ground drops into a valley that separates the amphitheater from the mountainside. At the bottom of the amphitheater, the stage sits in front of another wall of rock, with buildings of red sandstone built on either side of the rock as if they are growing out of it. The layering in the sandstone behind the stage provided the only backdrop, which Chris Kuroda used to great advantage during the second set on Friday.
Friday's show began a little after 7:30 with a typically menacing “My Friend”. The “Divided Sky” that followed seemed particularly appropriate, looking back up the amphitheater to the blue sky framed by red walls of rock. After “Divided” ended, there was a pause as Page took a breath as if to mentally prepare, and began “Strange Design”. “Oh Kee Pah” immediately followed by a rocking “AC/DC Bag” picked up the energy again.
The next two songs were new, introduced by Trey (who thanked us for listening to brand-new stuff) as “Theme from the Bottom” and “Taste”. Since I hadn't heard the first couple shows of the tour, this was my first exposure to these songs, and I liked them both a lot. The lyrics were catchy in places, but they weren't the focus of the songs. They also didn't have the extremely complex arrangements of songs like “Rift” or the how-fast-can-they-play adrenaline rush of “Llama”. I was convinced “Theme from the Bottom” is a love song from a catfish to a loon. “Sparkle” was followed by a typically mind-blowing “Antelope” (this is the song I think is most likely to set off an earthquake), which ended the set.
I think it was during set break that I first noticed a number of people on the cliffs surrounding the amphitheater, despite the warning signs everywhere to stay off the rocks. From my seat beside the tapers’ section, though, I had no idea that security was clashing with people trying to sneak in the venue just behind the amphitheater.
The moon, stars, and Denver city lights were visible by the time the second set started. “Split Open and Melt” started the set off with the energy level that ended the first set. The jam had an angular feel to it that reminded me of the 12/1/94 (Salem, OR) version. I didn't immediately recognize the “Wedge” that followed. The intro was different yet again from the 1993 Red Rocks “Wedge”. A great song to hear so close to the Great Divide — it stayed in my head most of the next day. “Scent of a Mule” was the only Hoist offering of the evening. Page's solo included some spontaneous accompaniment by Trey and Mike that added a lot. “Cavern” rocked us next, followed by a “David Bowie” that I enjoyed, but I don't remember the details. Roadies brought out four stools and four acoustic guitars for the “Acoustic Army” that came next. The crowd was nearly silent except for cheering wildly at the false endings. They remained quiet for the “Sweet Adeline”. A beautiful “Slave to the Traffic Light” ended the set. The “Squirming Coil” encore was marred only by one fan who decide to dance onto the stage, but was quickly whisked away by security. I don't usually like Page's solo as the ending of a show (I enjoy Page's playing in the context of the whole group much better than any piano solo alone), but I enjoyed this one quite a bit (this was the second time I listened to Page soloing as a spontaneous composition, and I appreciated the solo much more as a result).


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