, attached to 1997-02-23

Review by n00b100

n00b100 Phish small-venue shows are often worth seeking out, as the band tends to take a different path with both their setlists (packed with more rarities as there are no expectations to their song choices) and their jamming style (more detailed and considered). One such fine example of that form is this show, played during the first (!) of two (!!) European jaunts in 1997; yes, the 3/1 and 2/17 (maybe also 2/26) shows are stronger, but this is certainly not a show to be missed, possessing both an atypical setlist and some pretty sweet jams.

Set 1 alternates between a run of rare songs (the last All Things Reconsidered, The Sloth, a hilarious performance of Love Me) and some darn fine Set 1 jams, including a red-hot Carini with a very cool gimmick of the band picking up from a pre-taped soundcheck performance, a well-played Fluffhead, and a Bowie that immediately turns into a Page and Trey duet showcase, then starts gathering up tension in the time-honored Bowie style before nicely peaking and serving as a strong closer to the set. Set 2 might look a tad pedestrian, but still makes for an enjoyable listen in the grand '97 style. Daniel Saw The Stone, another fun rarity, kicks things off, leading to a nice and funky Suzy Greenberg that actually has a cool, atypical jam between verses. This leads to Maze (always fun when Bowie and Maze show up in the same set), and it's a typically strong, energetic Maze, which manages to reach an even more white-knuckle peak than the first-set Bowie did.

Horsilent and an always welcome Peaches comes next, then a rare by-its-lonesome Mike's Song (which is enough to recommend the set by itself), which starts with Trey getting wild and crazy with his effects and leads into a shimmering, powerful jam in the grand tradition of late-90s Mike's Songs before mellowing out after the usual Mike's Song transition and entering a very chill, Page-driven jam space, which is not really the sort of jam you would expect from Mike's Song unless it's being played in a small venue. Fish plays a relaxed, jazzy beat, and Trey's solos are more contemplative and gentle than ferocious; it's almost as though the band is trying to reach their typical late-90s ambiance, but aren't quite ready to get their yet, which takes nothing away from how cool and unusual this jam is. And then, just for the hell of it, Fish steps up to the mic and warbles out the last ever Why Don't We Do It In The Road?, a hilarious capper on what was a very cool jam. The rest of the show is standard encore stuff. Give this one a spin - it's a charming listen, and the Mike's Song is really cool and worth seeking out.
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