, attached to 1995-12-31

Review by Pinhead_Larry

Pinhead_Larry Alright, so here's my first show review (risky putting it on a legendary show? Maybe, but hopefully it does this show justice).

This has been my most consistent opinion for some time now about my favorite show (whereas previously, "x" concert was my favorite for a day at most). It is of my opinion that New Years' Eve 1995 at Madison Square Garden is Phish's grand concert masterpiece.

As a whole, it's very concise. Throughout the show, in all the highlights and one-off songs, there is a not a single wasted note or beat, or song that seems to "drag on." It's all there: the playfulness of Set I (Mockingbird narration, PYITE and Sloth gave us two nipples). Set II was the serious jam-oriented set with an impressive "more with less" jam in Drowned, exploratory Jim, and the epic 20 minute long Mike's Song->DDLJ. This Mike's Song starts out with an eerie jam that the band turn into beautiful ambient dissonance at the end of the DDLJ. This was also the last set of 1995, which is kind-of symbolic and poetic of itself. The Mike's Song had the audience waiting for Weekapaug, which would not be delivered until set III (technically 1996 at that point in the show). To me that sums of 1995. It was a highlighted and heralded year that left fans wanting more.

Set III opens with Auld Lang Syne->Weekapaug Groove (the first song of 1996) and the Groove is exactly that. Page shines and, to my ears, acts as a foreshadow of the following years, where Trey takes a back seat in the middle of the jam to let Page and Mike and Fish do their things (a la 11/22/97 Weekapaug Groove, or 11/6/96 Mike's->Jam). The following Sea and Sand is a nice and welcoming small song which leads into the 2-part YEM, where Trey is clearly the leader, but he's not "showboating." There's some nice blues-style jamming which leads to the climax and a more simple riff-based jam into the vocal jam. Another "more-with-less" jam whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Sanity, Frankenstein, and Johnny B. Goode were great for non-pressure playing to bring an end to a marvelous year.

1995 by itself was saying a lot about Phish and how far they'd come in even just the last year. And if that was the statement, then this show is the exclamation point.

It is certainly just a great all around listen. And I realize "perfect" is subjective, but one cannot deny the cohesiveness of this whole show. Even after repeated listens, it's like listening to it for the first time.


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