, attached to 1997-02-17

Review by fhqwhgads

fhqwhgads This review is based upon the recording found within the Amsterdam box set. As the Notes note, the Soul Shakedown Party opener was a Phish debut. It's often clamoured for in the current age, and who can blame anyone who does: it's a Bob Marley tune, Phish does it justice, and it has a breezy mood that would perfectly suit a first set outdoors in the summer, IMO. This show, obviously, finds it indoors, but Phish would proceed to pretty much blow the doors off of the Paradiso this evening. This Divided Sky is highly acclaimed, and I personally enjoy the brief "pause," or rather, the relatively quiet crowd reaction to the pause--perhaps out of Nederlanders' lesser familiarity with the Phish repertoire, or maybe the shushers finally got their way. In any event, Trey closes the pause quickly, and we get a "shredding" (as the kids say) D. Sky. I always love Guyute. I would say this a standard or "average-great" version, but I have a soft spot for it. I had to review the Song History for Timber (Jerry) to pinpoint its debut, which much to my surprise (shows how much I know!) occurred early on in Phishtory, to wit, '87. This version 10 years later does not reach the macrocosmical expansiveness of some versions from the Fall of '97 and elsewhere up to the current day, but it features some groovy and tense jamming that resolves before a > into Billy Breathes. Phish is known for their jamming I think above all, but they are truly great songwriters, along with their respective collaborators (lyricists, most integrally, and in this case, Tom Marshall), and some of their slower-paced songs resonate most emotionally with me. Trey bringing out Eliza at Magnaball last year (his daughter whom he named the song after--her nickname was (is?) Billy) really gives some perspective to the magniloquent beauty contained in this short yet essential song. Relistening to the Llama, Gin > Golgi closing run just proves how on Phish can be--and usually are!

The second set of this show, as with many shows, is where the most compelling improvisation takes place. Followers of Kevin Shapiro's From the Archives broadcasts had already heard the heralded Down with Disease -> Carini -> Taste -> Down with Disease sequence in soundboard quality, but this remastered edition is really spectacular. Coil to open is its usual mesmerizing self, replete with piano outro by Page legitimately segue-ing into DWD. Phish take an approach with the DWD jam that reminds me of '95, but in hindsight I can't help but notice how it anticipates the watershed event of 3/1/97 and the stylistic turn towards funk that would become the theme of 1997. Carini is debuted, and has many fascinating qualities for a phanatic: this debut version's verses feature a piano riff that recalls Manteca, to my ears; more shredding follows, echoing the effervescence of the first set's Divided Sky but with the additional friendly menace of Carini's minor key; then a loopy section with Trey making use of his Boomerang phrase sampler; that finally winds down (or up?) into a blissed-out section to conclude the jam and segue into Taste. Taste is typically masterful--really one of my favorite Phish compositions, and a real showcase for Fish's drumming prowess--and builds into a peak before the Phish from Vermont return to DWD for a quick reprise of that tune's ripping coda. Suzy > Caspian, E: Monkey > Top is nothing to sneeze at, but the previous approximate hour of music is really where this show is at for me. I rated this show 5 out of 5 stars primarily because of the stylistic smorgasbord of jamming on display, but also because 2/17/97 has an X factor of connectedness in the interplay and listening between the four men we know and love that notches it high on my shows listened to. I think the choice to present the 3 '97 Amsterdam shows together for the box set was inspired, and I'm torn as to whether I can prefer any one of the 3 or even this show over the two-night run from July 1st & 2nd or vice versa, but you get a lot of bang for your buck whatever's your pleasure!


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