, attached to 1993-08-20

Review by zzyzx

zzyzx (Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

For a while it was uncertain whether this show would happen. The tickets mentioned the chance of a rainout and the rain was coming down hard. The cancellation rumor was helped quite a bit when the backdrop was removed. However, Icculus was with us. At almost exactly 7:30 the rain stopped. Due to some good work by the crew, the show practically started on time.

The show started with an inspired choice, "The Divided Sky". This is a beautiful song anytime, but hearing it at Red Rocks with strong winds blowing around was just amazing. The only environment that was close to this one was Amy's Farm.

"Divided Sky" came to a full stop, and after a pause we got our first surprise of the evening, "Harpua". "Harpua" nowadays is usually reserved for the "show-stopper" slot of last or second-to-last song of the show. Getting it second showed that they had confidence that they could top it. The version itself was odd. The story was about "Harpua" the Giant Iguana being turned to stone by Poster Nutbag's (or Posterus Nutbagus as Trey referred to him) deadly gaze. Allegedly, one of the rocks looked like a giant iguana, but I could never find it. This became a bit of a running joke throughout the set. After an outstanding opening, things had to return to normal for a bit. An excellent "Maze" was sandwiched between "Poor Heart" and "Bouncing". Then things got unusual again. Rather than the boring jams they've been playing in "It's Ice" since they got the glider toy, they gave Page a solo. After "Ice", they started to play a jam that I didn't recognize at all. After sixty-nine shows, it was rare to have to write a "?" on a setlist, and I was enjoying it. The suspense was broken when they stepped to the microphones and sang "We're bobbing on the surface"...." My first "Wedge"! This version was much different from the studio, and much better. However, the highlight of the set was still to come. After two more songs, the set closed with "Run Like an Antelope". This was no ordinary version, mind you. Other than the 3/13/92 Providence "Run Like a Big Black Furry Antelope" jam, this was by far the best version that I've ever seen. The jam was both sick and long; it clocked in at over fifteen minutes, whereas the average "Antelope" is around ten. Get this tape and listen to it. You won't be sorry.

After a brief break, the second set opened to the familiar strains of "2001". Then came the best moment of the show"...and of my Phish career: "Slave to the Traffic Light". Not only was this my first version, not only did they play the best version I have ever heard, but they were playing it at Red Rocks. This meant that during the quiet jam I could look out to my right and see lightning strike over the lights of Denver. I can't really say any more about this; you just had to be there.

Now, while I would have been perfectly happy if the set had ended right there, the band felt like playing some more. In fact they played excellent versions of "Split Open and Melt" and "Chalk Dust", with a sweet "Coil" and a really fun "My Friend, My Friend" in between. However, I was still going "Slave, Slave, SLAVE!!" in my head and kind of let these songs slide by. The second set was to bring one more treat. During "Purple Rain", Mimi Fishman came out to do the vacuum solo. I heard her on tapes and was expecting her to do really well. Unfortunately she was having an off night and couldn't get any sound out of it. Fish took the vacuum back and redeemed his mother with a solid solo. The set came to a close with an excellent "Cavern". My guess for the encore was "Freebird" and something else. While I was right, I never expected to hear "The Mango Song" to open an encore. An excellent version, too.

This show was easily the best of the twenty I saw that year. It had everything: odd song selection ("Wedge", "Slave"), standard songs played well ("Antelope"!), and even a special guest. All I can say is get the tapes. Better yet, hope that the band videotaped it and get that! Better yet, invent a time machine and go see the show yourself. It'll be worth it.


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