, attached to 1997-07-01

Review by fhqwhgads

fhqwhgads This review is based upon the Amsterdam archival release. I don't know how I heard about the Wormtown shows originally, but they have more than lived up to the hype. Ghost opens, which we would give our left nuts for in the current era. It's a mighty Ghost, with 10 or so minutes of funk segueing into the Worm banter that then yields a still-funky yet slightly more ambient and non-typical-for-Ghost jam. I'm not good with music theory but I think the last 10 minutes or so are in a different mode--or modes. Right around 18:30 (going by the Amsterdam recording) listen closely to Mike for what sounds like a Time Loves a Hero tease to these ears. Ghost concludes to an appreciative audience and then we get Horn, a limber Ya Mar, and even limberer (by limb?) Limb by Limb. Limb was also a freshly minted song at this point, and it concludes with a feedbacky ambient jam that kind of slinks into J. J. Cale's Ain't Love Funny (though before the song proper kicks in Trey almost jumps the gun into Saw It Again.) The vocals are particularly evocative, even haunting, in this version. It's a song I wish Phish would make come alive again. Two more new-for-1997 songs follow with Saw It Again and Dirt. Dirt has a slightly different structure than is de rigeur today, possibly just a working out of the kinks through early live performance. Reba follows! Not the light-speed Reba I am most fond of (Cf. 12/31/95 or 12/7/95) but the jam--though plaintive throughout, in my opinion, kind of like 9/14/00 but with the "mycological languor" of 1997 best described by @waxbanks--peaks pretty intensely, and is capped off by whistling. The first set closes with Dogs Stole Valuable Playing Time in the Setlist (Dogs Stole Things by the name given it by @Icculus years ago.) Pretty standard closer; perhaps not by 3.0 standards, but it's guaranteed to satisfy. Any Phish is good Phish.

The second set opens with Fish playing keys, eventually resolving into Timber (Jerry.) This Timber is a great example of how 8 minutes or so can pack a real wallop; it gets spacey without losing focus, and wraps up with characteristic panache. Bathtub Gin sees the first long jam of the set, and wades into some pretty interesting territory even with Mike probably thinking at the time that Trey was "play(ing) too many notes." In other words, it's a rocking, powerful Gin. Segue into Cities, and oh, what a Cities! It's extremely multifaceted in much a similar character to a Fall '94 or Summer '95 Tweezer, but with textures that integrate the cowfunk and synthwork from MC Neon Cell Gap before almost moving into Limb by Limb again (again, to my ears) though they decide to settle into Stone(s): Loving Cup. Slave is the set closer, and I have a dirty little secret: Slave to the Traffic Light is probably my least favorite of Phish's "big guns." I can enjoy one, no problemo Bartdude, but I'd rather hear Harry Hood in the set closer slot or at all in a show. Needless to say, I don't have much to say about this Slave. When the Circus Comes closes the show, and I feel like this a lot about ballady type (read: slower, more traditionally emotive) songs, but Trey's vocals could almost bring me to bittersweet tears depending upon the circumstances.

I've rated this show 5 stars, because of all the noteworthy jams but also for the sheer exuberance on display, particularly in the Wormier segments of the show. Must-listen quality Phish.


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