This show marked the first known performance of Horn. Fish jokingly introduced “Tweezer So Cold” as a song from the “Jane Fonda Workout Tape” and subsequently announced “Donna Lee” as a song from the “Charlie Parker Workout Tape.”
Since there was no play-by-play review of this show, I figured I would step in and provide one. So...enjoy?
The show starts out with a well played Sloth. Hard to perceive how it went over as a show opener, but it ends quickly regardless and Bouncing starts up. It's still not quite locked in at the proper tempo (still a bit slow IMO), but it's listenable enough. Tweezer So Cold is definitely an early highlight, as it's starting to open up just a bit and show us some jam potential. Fish also has some amusing comments at the end of the song that I won't spoil for you.
Donna Lee is Donna Lee, but it provides a nice cool down between the Tweezer and the Reba, which has finally rounded into form by mid-1990 and is finally being played at a pretty consistently high level. YEM is YEMmy, but is always enjoyable. Seriously, ALWAYS. I love this freakin' song. Following YEM is a trio of average, classic tunes to end the set.
The second set opens with an unassuming Foam and is smartly followed by another Junta tune, Dinner and a Movie. This one continues the band's apparent recent theme of trying to make the vocals of certain songs as noisy and obnoxious as possible, but it works better here than in Tweezer or Highway to Hell. The Possum that follows features a wailing guitar solo from Trey, and although clearly passionate, it's not exactly what I would call "well-played".
IDK and My Sweet One gave us a splash of quick fun and were quickly followed by the Phish debut of Horn. This debut is definitely worth a listen (and when was the last time Horn was the outright highlight of a show)? This version features some gorgeous piano work from Page as well as a variation on the vocals that was probably changed for the better. The tempo is actually a little bit faster than what it would settle into on "Rift", but like any good Horn, it's still full of passion.
Fee and Walk Away are about as average as average gets. Going back and listening to these shows, it's funny knowing what we know about what Phish would become. Right now, they are just a good rock band playing good songs night in and night out. Back then, it must have been a revelation. Now, it's just kind of...vanilla. We're so spoiled.
The Harry Hood that follows, however, is an excellent 1990 rendition of the song. It features a quiet jam building up to an intense peak with Machine Gun Trey making a spirited appearance! Definitely worth a listen.
In an attempt to build on the momentum, they unfortunately decide to keep it going with the always-unwelcome Highway to Hell into a tame Contact. The encore is GTBT and, as usual, it tends to sum up the events of the night appropriately. Good times, bad times. That's a Phish setlist in 1990.
Final thoughts: Despite the good playing, there's just really not a lot of substance here that is worth much more than a passing glance, because you've already heard it in that other 1990 show you listened to...excepting the Horn and Hood, of course. 2.5 stars.
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