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Review by Thunder
As I've written before here on .net, fans on tour were all riding a huge high coming off the madness of maryland/virginia beach (and a great tour). This show was alot of fun as a result. The lots were extremely positive ... more than normal random high fiving and lots of "can you believe it" conversations. Kinda like the Phish community had turned a corner, and we all knew it.
The debut cover of Bob Marley's "Trenchtown Rock" to open the show was just perfect. Followed with a standard but nice version of Julius set the mood for the show. The Wolfman's jam into the bust-out of Little Feat's "Time Loves a Hero" (over 1000 shows) was awesome. To date, the only version of "Bittersweet Motel" I actually don't mind listening to (the crowd's reaction to the line "halfway between Erie and Pittsburgh" always makes me smile). The remainder of the set was a mix of standards in Sloth and the closer Sample, some nice bluegrass in Ginseng Sullivan, a nice distinctly summer '98 take on Fee, and soaring versions of Reba & Maze.
The second set opens with a very exploratory Runaway Jim, including a sublime tease of "Maria" (by Trey) from the musical West Side Story - which I had absolutely no idea what it was at the time. It's similar in ambition to the Worcester '97 Jim. Although I prefer the Worcester Jim, this one is unmistakably summer '98 and was/is a wonderful listening experience in extended open improv (35 mins). The return to the Jim theme is glorious after the sonic journey. The boys follow it up with exactly what is called for: a couple new tunes (Meat and LxL) which would later be featured on Story of the Ghost (Fall '98). The start/stop of Meat was playful and the crowd appreciated it. For a few moments it threatened to get elastic in that summer '98 kind of way, but coming off the monster Jim, a straight ahead version was called for. I especially like how it finished/went into LxL (which I used to say at the time was Reba dressed up in a Taste drumbeat). If you like Reba and Taste (who doesn't), it's hard to dislike LxL. A gorgeous "When the Circus Comes" (Los Lobos cover) fit in well after the SOTG tunes in what was emerging as the mid/late second set ballad position in the setlist (think Bug, Mtns in the Mist, Velvet Sea, etc.). A straight-forward rocking version of DwD closed the second set in similar fashion to Atlanta, five days earlier.
Depending on your point of view, nothing too exciting tonight for the encore (pretty much impossible to top Sabotage/Terrapin Station), although Wilson had some lyrical variations from Trey which I can't identify, but it's clear, he was in good spirits. Golgi ended a very satisfying show that well represents Phish in Summer '98: well played yet playful, occasional bust-outs, debut covers, rocking out and taking risks. There's better shows in my opinion from Summer '98 but as an overall document on the tour, Burgettstown '98 is a solid, yet welcome/unexpected choice for the next official dvd. Looking forward to the December release!