, attached to 1997-12-05

Review by JerrysMissingFinger

JerrysMissingFinger Set One Notes:
Ghost gets the funk flowing right off the bat. Sirens get fired up, the band crawling into the groove. Mike is dropping liquid bass hits, Fish getting assertive with the beats, Page hovering the synths over the crowd. The jam develops into fantastic, sparse, danceable groove. Trey starts getting assertive with his guitar work as Page fires up the baby grand. Fish starts playing with the groove, which eventually stretches and rises, getting airy, a great start to the show, a return to the opener jam piece trend. Wilson is straightforward, keeping the energy high. Funky Bitch completes the 1-2 punch after Wilson, keeping the Friday night crowd moving. Fish is prominent, Trey’s solo has some sauce on it. BEK hits, and it feels like it’s been a minute, though they just played it in Woostah. This version is competing to be my favorite alongside Winston-Salem, as it gets into this patient, wide, bottom of the canyon, towering yet subdued groove, pushing towards a soaring peak, thunderous rhythm pouring over the waterfall, with a clean return to the Katy coda. Sparkle gets fired up. What a creepy, kinda messed up song, truly horrendous descriptions, the manic-upbeat-grass musical pairing feels like dark sarcasm, “It’s just a joke, relax…” The reappearance of Jim after totally running away, never to come back in Woostah is welcome. This is a truly uplifting version, high elevation clarity and transcendence. The jam soon transforms into a ray of light parting the clouds, total Zen space, before Trey begins to lay bluesy licks on top of it. The jam becomes very Hydrogen-like, then Taste-intro-like, before rolling over the top into a molten peak, into MFMF. MFMF keeps the late-set energy up after that soaring Jim, with the craziness of its ending always welcome. Ginseng Sullivan remains my favorite “bluegrass” tune, but at this point, the bluegrass spot could use a little more diversity. LxL is a high reaching, triumphant peaking version, before Zero hits, a Hendrixian evocation, ground-pounding Mike near the peak, closing the set on a strong note.

Set Two Notes:
Stash gives a subdued start to Set 2, always holding promise. The jam gets of to an extremely quiet start, soon building and getting knotted, bursting open, before getting tangled again, it hits another peak, returns to Stash-proper, a relatively contained version. Bouncing is an interesting call, maybe some kinda weekend-crowd-vibe read or something. Julius appears to be another straightforward call, working its way into a solid rocking Trey solo jam as it usually does. Soon, though, they take it down-low, and I think, “Are they gonna jam Julius?” It sure sounds like that’s the case. It jumps back into the Julius jam, Page extending things with his organ solo, Rockstar Guitarman pulling it back into Julius, Fish yelling out in approval at the arrival of a thematic build-up into a shredding peak. The jam settles back down into a jazzy Julius vocal refrain. The groove gets jazzy-funky, low-slung, Fish 2K in full rhythm-machine mode down in this pit. The organ sends waves washing over liquid bass, Fishman giving more approval, the jam moving to clav and guitar raindrops onto rippling seas of rhythm. This is certainly the best and most jammed version of Julius I am aware of. Slave is always great in its role as an “arrival” song, this one being of the classic patient, slow-build Fall ’97 vintage. I start to drift out into the realms of abstract thoughts in the music’s warm embrace. Suddenly, I realize that Slave has totally gone Type-II, wow, this is awesome. Soaring Hendrixian playing by Trey surfing waves of sound on low pounding foundations, a beautiful outro into The Lizards. Lizards is its warm, friendly, storytelling self, a great vibe here in the late second set, the first time it had been played that fall. Loving Cup is a nice way to end the rock-focused Friday night set two, a solid Trey-lead outro jam, really raging. So, when Chalkdust starts up, it’s a definite shock to be getting one more. This is a rocket ship version, twisting and soaring upward, bursting through the atmosphere. Fish 2K is on fire, the Trey Wail in full effect to end the set. Bold as Love is a big cathartic ending as the hardest working band in rock and roll’s Friday night Cleveland Experience comes to an end.

I found this show, and especially its second set to be extremely engaging, well-within that upper 20% of Phish shows all of Fall ’97 sits in, even if it doesn’t quite hit the peaks of some of its cohort. Ghost, Jim, Julius, Slave, if you hear anything, hear those four. But listen to the whole show, as you listen to the whole tour. Best way to hear it.
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