, attached to 1997-07-21

Review by MrPalmers1000DollarQ

MrPalmers1000DollarQ Hot off the heels of a European summer tour that arguably defined the trajectory of the band forever, Phish returns stateside for three consecutive nights with enough gusto to each merit an official Live Phish release. Immediately the band introduces the Yanks to four new tunes: Ghost, Dogs Stole Things, Piper, and Dirt. As with other debuts (I know not technically a debut, but new to many of the fans in attendance) of songs that are now staples, it is crazy to miss the roar of the crowd upon recognizing the first notes of Ghost. Beyond the novelty of this show as marking several firsts, Bathtub Gin seems to flick a switch that turns the band on for some incredible work throughout the remainder of the night (and the nights to come). A lot of highlights here

Setlist Thoughts
- a long Ghost without too much exploration, but plenty of funky sauce from Page's clavs, Mike's bass, and Trey's octave-pedaled guitar. Ebbs and flows in Mike/Fish energy, some movement between keyboards/synths from Page, and plenty of effects toggling from Trey keep this long, straightforward jam engaging. Trey hits that harmonizing effect and brings in some riffing that alternates between something reminiscent of the Route 1 theme from Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow (something that shows up again in subsequent shows) and some more dissonant tri-tone play supported by Page and Mike.
- Piper starts with some unfamiliar strumming and is then kept on a tight leash here without as much of the springboard energy into Type II territory that we now associate with this tune. A tame introduction to what will soon become a fan-favorite jam vehicle
- Page makes it known right off the bat that this Gin is gonna be special. Fun "drunk" playing to start the jam with plenty of rhythmic and melodic deviations and some fun percussive capitalization from Fishman. The jam quickly picks up pace and evolves into a Drowned-tease jam before settling into upbeat Suzy-like funk. Page gives us some tasty piano riffs, the band syncs up for some super fun stops, and Fishman brings out his inner James Brown American pride.
- Blazing hot Character Zero to close out Set I. Trey wields the wah pedal with no reservation
- Wolfman's Brother is fairly standard until the energy slowly descends and we pick out familiar noodling that takes the shape of...Magilla! The whole band kills this rarity .
- Oh, poor David Bowie. Too often does this song take off into distant Type II jamspace, and as a result gems like this get overlooked in the jamcharts. With Radar Love and Birdland Teases and Trey's ambient background swirling, this 4-minute intro is especially ominous. Infallible footwork through the composed section is followed up with one of my favorite Bowie jams ever. Trey's tone starts out with some heavily reverberated tin-canniness to it, as if something is lurking out there just beyond the reaches of your vision. But it's there, you know it is. And after several minutes of careful, quiet soloing, when Trey deploys the whammy pedal, you know it's arrived. The last 4 minutes of this jam are perfect anarchy.
- Wading rounds out 5 songs to get some pretty great US debuts this show. Great control over the tempo while bringing the energy and emotion
- Probably my favorite Theme from the Bottom ever, this jam descends from it's chaotic jam section into a lovely funk jam, deviating from the familiar formula for peaked soloing taken by other coveted versions such as 12/7/97. In a jam band crossover event, LeRoi Moore steps in to add some juicy sax playing over this jam before the whole band becomes harmonically unhinged over Fishman's playing. A lot of fun interplay between Page, Try, and LeRoi.
- Super fun to hear a sax on Funky Bitch.
- Fairly standard, but beautiful Slave to close the second set before a well-played singalong Loving Cup encore.


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