, attached to 1998-04-03

Review by waxbanks

waxbanks This 27-minute(!) Roses starts out as robofunk in the vein of the 12/30/97 AC/DC Bag, though it lacks that jam's magical film-score climax. It's got the porno-percussive vibe of e.g. the 11/17/97 Ghost at first, but way more ambient-electronic trickery and remarkably patient playing from all corners. Surprisingly (and wonderfully) though, the jam develops *inward* rather than *upward* - growing clearer, more mellow, more spacious. Even the Fall '97 climax is muted, favouring private darkness over the anthemic vibe of (say) the 11/22/97 Halley's. The segue into Piper is downright mournful despite the music's resolute beauty - like seeing sunrise with a friend after a night's soul-searching - and the boys take their time bringing on the lyrics. The astonishing nine-minute jam that follows develops not from the driving uptempo segment (which powers most versions (and all modern versions) of the tune) but from the delicate coda; it's collective onstage composition, showcasing Phish's empathetic communication and patience.

The Roses > Piper > Cup is one of the strongest pieces of Phish improvisation of 1998, as far from the frenetic rock'n'roll pounding of 1995-96 as Phish could get without transforming into a different band. The rest of the show is of a piece with the fine Set II improvisation (Jesus, a 35-minute Mike's Groove opener?!), but Roses > Piper is the reason to seek out this recording. This is an attractive show for the post-'96 Phish fan, whether you prefer the band's 1998-99 ambient grooving or its more aggressive Fall '97 galactic funk antecedent - but the ~25 minutes of music around that marvelous Piper jam have more in common with the Lemonwheel ambient set (or the IT soundcheck!) than anything else. Heartily, happily recommended.
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