, attached to 1997-12-03

Review by MDosque

MDosque For some reason, this summer I have really gotten quite nostalgic concerning Phish experiences. I went back and listened to some of my early shows and was thrilled to relive them a little bit. After seeing them for the first time ever the year before at the Spectrum on 12/29, I returned to America's Showplace the next year. It was hard to know at the time, but the fall 97 tour is now considered stuff of legend. I have no idea where our real seats were, but we were 16, stoned, and scared shitless, so we headed as far up in that arena as possible. Around the Great Went, Phish really found their inner funk and their jams often veered into 70's disco porn music. It almost seems that for better or worse, they shed a little silliness and antics of the stage for straight up jams. I would say this is better, but early-90's partisans would surely disagree. They still had that in their back pockets, but these post-Went jams were a whole new animal. So it was with this show. Since there was not a bad seat in that now-razed house, I had a good vantage point. Plus some very Kind older heads nurtured us up in the nosebleed section, took our helplessly sloppy blunt, unwrapped it, and popped it in their bubbler. Lights out and show on...

Set 1: The funk was in full effect with a great opener. You have to love a PYITE opener at any show, but inside a cozy old arena with the winter winds whipping outside, that song is just the one to set the tone. This one was excellent. I always love My Soul, but as the 90's got late and some of the 99-00 jams (think ) got spacier and longer, I feel like My Soul really found its home as a safe call to snap everyone out of a trance (see Oswego...the set break there was mindbending for most and My Soul surely rescued many). As for this show, I remember it being fun and great as always. Drowned doesn't always do it for me, but that's ok. One man's bathroom break is another's highlight--that's the beauty of a Phish show. Looking and listening back, The Old Home Place seems like a nice choice for the Spectrum. From here on, Phish put on a display that showed their continuing evolution and pure virtuosity. The Gumbo-2001-YEM that closes this set is something that every fan of every period should seek out ASAP. This is pure 97 style phunk and this run of tunes cannot be denied. They were flat out ON and for the young guns (and we all love ya) that see shows now, this is the type of jam that causes older fans to pine for the late 90's. So just let us vent once in a while during a cheesy Alaska and realize that we love the band, you love the band, and all is good. But damn...this jam is IT.

Set Break: Things got weird in that old building and being too young to really appreciate the experience, confusion set in.

Set 2:
The Bowie was fantastic, just like the Bowie that opened the second set at my first show the previous winter. Great jamming and it landed into a powerful Possum. It was here that one of my biggest Phish regrets happened and I must do a mea culpa. Listening back, the jam out of Possum is pure bliss and maybe even one for the ages. Certainly, it would be surprising to hear that type of playing post-hiatus, but at the time, who knew...and we were ripped. We left. As I was walking through the concourse, I heard the beginning of Caspian, but I was out into the cold Philly night in search of our ride before the solo. It is true, like the other reviewer here stated that the magic was in the first set, and I do agree, but looking back, it seems a shame that I took it for granted and wasn't fully locked into that second set. Oh well. You live you learn. It happens to the best of us.

To sum it up, this show is fantastic, and indicative of the highest of heights that the band would inhabit from Went through Lemonwheel. Nearly every single show is musical feast and this show (particularly the first set) is right there. If you have to narrow it down..start from Gumbo and take it through the end of the first set. Maybe do it on an extended late summer evening walk with the dog. I promise you will be strollin like Dolomite down the block.


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