, attached to 1995-12-09

Review by pmc2kd

pmc2kd Maze: Killer way to start a show and this is a rocking version. Strong solo by Page is followed up by a piercing solo from Trey. The band flies into a great climax to kick the set off with a bang.

Theme From the Bottom is a nice uplifting foil to Maze’s darkness. This is a good version, with another strong solo from Trey.

NICU is its fun self and finds a good home after the opening pair.

The Sloth is always welcome and is well played. Nice to hear and shaping up a very solid first set.

Rift is played very well, with a clarity and execution lacking in the modern incarnations. Good stuff.

Bouncin’ is Bouncin’- fine by me.

Free is pretty solid without being exceptional. But it is different than today and worthy of a listen with a more than capable jam.

Billy Breathes is pretty short but a nice breather, which is followed up by a very pretty take on Dog Faced Boy. I kinda like that one.

CDT is a (needed) shot in the arm to close out the set. This baby really smokes! Love it.

Overall, it’s a good set, with Maze, Theme and Free the highlights for me as well as nice song selection. Nothing too big in terms of jamming however. Love the smoking hot CDT after Dog Faced Boy too.

Timber opens the second frame after the audience chess move and this is a fine version. Very good, dark jamming that traverses some major spaces in a brief period of time. Under 9 minutes but this one vaults into a favorite version for me. Very fierce and very tight, but most definitely exploratory.

Wilson is up next and the audible Beavis and Butthead sampling is hilarious over the intro. These guys are great! They drop into a ripping version of the tune proper.

Gumbo emerges and seems pretty fast tempo-wise to my ears. It’s a funky & crisp take. Trey throws out a soaring lead to open his solo, resulting in a triumphant finale before Page brings us into ragtime.

YEM is the centerpiece of the set & show (& tour? & year? & career?). It’s that good. The jam that emerges at 12 minutes or so in has a quasi TAB Push on Till the Day glory feel. Of course it’s pure unadulterated full band improvisation. There’s not much better. It downshifts to a sparser bass/drum led section, which builds back into a blissful full band groove with Trey coloring the pocket with good rhythm work before crafting a nice melodic line. Page asserts himself a bit more on the baby grand and the band brings the chill groove to a slightly funkier space. This builds nicely, with Trey adding some more melody higher up the fretboard. It’s a patient and glorious buildup with nary a misplaced note. Trey is really working some great patterns by 17:30+ and the band continues to just chug along behind, again with Page playing some active fills on the baby grand, lending a Suzy-esque euphoric feel. At 20 minutes in we are still in groove-town at which point the band drops again into a more rhythmic section where Page colors the space and Trey is out (mini-kit?). Mike is absolutely letting loose with some thermonuclear bass bombs, Page hits the organ for some tasty notes, and the rhythm section is right on. Mike brings us to a more familiar YEM territory away from the bliss groove zone. Damn he’s good, and he initiates a sort of duel with Page on the organ, then Trey just comes back in perfectly with a classic rocking chord vamp and boom, right into some straight up funk. This is boot shakin’ music, start-stop stuff, with Page coloring the empty space with really cool keyboard fills. Trey is just in the zone & obviously Fishman is the anchor. Trey brings in some comedy with the Shaft quotes, which fit and lend a bit of Phishy comedy to this masterpiece. The silent jam doesn’t “come through” on tape, but the emergence back to the jam is utterly sick. I got caught dancing at my desk at work to this one. So damn good, right into the blissful vamp with Trey just slaying the leads. They peak us into the stratosphere and cement this jam on Mount Phismore. By 29 minutes we cool off and head to vocal land. In fitting fashion, this glorious jam concludes with a cacophony of strange vocal incantations. Simply put, this is probably the best version of this quintessential Phish classic. Even the most difficult to please phan would call this truly amazing & an undisputed masterpiece.

Lawn Boy emerges from the smoking crater in my mind to bring us back into lounge lizard land. Good call after that YEM and a good palette cleanser.

I recently read a Mr. Miner post about shows needing to “earn a Slave to the Traffic Light”. Well this show earned it, and this is the perfect call on the back end of the set. They really gallop into the intro (seems fast to my ears). The jam begins with some syncopated playing from Trey. They begin a nice build, which showcases some tender & patient playing and then reach a nice groove, which has Trey more on the chording side then the straight lead side, which sounds very unique for me. He then grabs the reins on a more classic build up (although there’s a bit of a stumble from Big Red at one point) for a satisfying climb to the mountaintop. You’ll find better Slaves from this tour and other years, but this is a well earned take and the final peak is absolutely devastating & glorious (if the build up is not 100% squeaky clean).

Well, we aren’t done yet, as the band careens into a smoking hot version of Crossroads before closing it out with some a cappella.

They encore with Loving Cup, which is one last revelatory celebration. Good stuff.

Overall this show is known for the YEM and it is the undeniable showpiece here. The rest of the show is plenty good, without being exceptional (for this particular tour). The Timber is very strong and the Slave>Crossroads is a really cool pairing. The YEM is a once in a lifetime performance however, making this show worthy of adulation.


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