, attached to 1997-07-02

Review by waxbanks

waxbanks The summer '97 Europe tour is split between fun, workmanlike festival sets and deeper two-set affairs; this is the deepest.

The first set is just fine, starting with a very fine Mike's > Simple, but it's not on par with the previous night's revelatory opener. The second frame, however, is one of the year's best, revolving slowly around a divine Stash jam that's really a fully-formed spontaneous composition (complete with rare bass solo). The attentive silence of the crowd is as affecting as the band's own focus and patience; you know immediately that this is a small club crowd and not Phish's raucous stateside audience. The band takes full advantage of the opportunity, varying the intensity at a conspiratorial volume. There are grander performances of Velvet Sea but none more delicate, wilder Llamas but none more villainous; no take on Free has attained the first encore's stripped-down menace, and few of Phish's transitional improvisations are as gracefully extended as the eight minutes leading up to Mike's solo statement 24:00 into Stash. The 'Wormtown Jam' is a menacing trip too. The band's ambient work took another year to fully form and the funk tunes lack the clockwork polyrhythms of the late-July shows, but this outing does offer a pure strain of some rare thing.


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