, attached to 1995-12-05

Review by Campster

Campster Alright, it's been a bit, but continuing December '95 with the second night of UMASS.

Set I opens with Horn, which is kind of an odd opener. Not bad, but I can't imagine it kicking the energy level up. Perfectly adequate rendition, with Trey playing the solo section nicely.

CDT seems to be the quick reset and throws the show into a second gear. Very nice crisp version with a good solo.

Taste That Surrounds (or Taste) is up next. Like most early iterations, the Fishman vocal section is rough. The song itself is pretty nicely done. Interesting how it evolved.

The Lizards is preceded by a quick dedication to Basketball announcing legend and all around maniac Mr. Dick Vitale. Pretty cool. UMASS was a solid team - making the elite 8 with sophomore Marcus Camby - who'd lead them to the finals later on (one of my earliest memories of college basketball). Anyways great version with a typically beautiful outro solo.

Free follows up in fine fashion. It's a slightly stretched out version with the churning style jamming that characterized the song through 95-96, before Trey went into a more funkified and guitar oriented jam on the song. Nicely stretched out.

Esther is kind of an odd song. For me, it's a less successful "Phishy" song, but it's ok here.

David Bowie is next up and brings us back into the jamming realm. The intro is nice and disquieting. Not overly long, but some good eerie space before a pinpoint drop into the song. Trey's playing is crisp and precise in the composed segment with the band in lockstep. The drop into the jam is very nice, and a delicate and purposeful jam begins to develop. Around 6:30-7 the band starts some repetitive playing and gaining a bit of speed and volume slowly. At 8:15 there's a cool little segment that sees Trey foreshadowing the "Frankie Says" guitar melody. Just a kindred musical idea of a tune that would pop up a few years later on Story of the Ghost. By 10 minutes they are moving faster towards a more traditional climax, while continuing to build some additional tension. At 10:50 a great jam develops between all members. It's a pulsing dancey jam, with some really cool playing from Trey. By 12:50 we've emerged back into the climax which gets very intense with a big release by 13:50 with a couple cool victory laps featuring some great tension and scintillating trills. Not a monster version, but boy would I love to see a version like this today. Ferocious and precise.

An acoustic version of I'm Blue, I'm Lonesome closes out the set (and comes through pretty nicely in the Relisten App's audio source! The version is accompanied by some (disastrous and unwelcome) audience clapping (yikes!). What is this - Sugar Magnolia!? Nevertheless this is enjoyable.

End Set. Pretty solid, not exceptional, but a great Lizards, Bowie & solid Free give us plenty to enjoy. Good playing throughout.

Set II opens with a rollicking Poor Heart. Very nice version.

Gin is up next and this one is a real heavy hitter. A good song section and opening jam gives way to a nice funky/rock jam, which, by 9:30, is cooking along. Trey and Fish are accenting each others notes on the downbeat and Page is filling the space around them very nicely on the baby grand. Mike is laying down some bulbous bass offerings that would make any living creature gesticulate wildly in primitive and euphoric dance. By 11:30 Trey hits an ascending run and the band drives into some satisfying music, which by 13:30 is morphing into some really neat atypical stuff. By minute 14 Trey has set his droning background and moves to the mini-kit, coloring the music nicely as Page asserts himself with an organ/electric piano type tone. It's less demented than the heralded 11/2/96 Crosseyed, but stylistically not so far off. At around 16:30 Trey drones a higher note over top the band and Page moves to the baby grand. Trey's back in the picture at 17:15 and plays some tasty notes at 17:45. He then kicks into some funky chording/leads around 17:50 but choses to go towards rhythmic, repetitive lead lines over the jam space the band has found themselves in. Think a faster version of the end jam in the Slip Stitch and Pass Wolfman's Brother or the cool section in the 7/4/94 Bathtub Gin>Lifeboy that was From the Archives at SBIX. By 20:30 we are heading back into some weirder space, signaling the end is nigh. It's really good space, with a little start stop action, some frantic Mike notes, some excellent Tom hits from Fish & some nice piano accompaniment from Page. Not unlike the best of Bowie intro jams. Keyboard Army emerges in perfect fashion....


A nice rendition of Keyboard Army is followed up by Scent of a Mule. SOAM is good and Page takes a good solo section. The song is well done and interesting and drops immediately into a rocking jam. It picks up speed and noise level before going into a more tense space and again picking up speed into a noisy conclusion.

Drops perfectly into Lifeboy. Very beautiful version which sets the table for Harry Hood.

'95 was a year to feel good about Hood. This version is excellent. The opening jam is delicate, but has plenty of great notes. The Leslie speaker colors the jam around 9:00 with a beautiful watery feel, which climbs beautifully upward. At 10:28 or so Trey switches the Leslie off and brings us to a nice melodic passage that continues to build and he switches the Leslie back on for a brief moment. At 11:22 we are hitting the full band catharsis section, which builds again rolling up another hill, with Trey getting very active around 12:10, switching the Leslie on again, and carrying us still higher. By 12:50 we are poised for some peaks, which begin at 13:05 or so, with some beautiful sustained notes from Trey. He sends us back down briefly before building some additional tension and sending out a signal to the universe that everything is alright and peaks us again at 15:00. The Leslie makes another brief and welcome appearance and the peaking continues. The band drops into a quiet section at 16:00 in, which is just great stuff. A low growl builds at 16:25 and explodes at 16:33 in euphoric celebration. Lyrical refrain at 16:50. You can feel good about this version. Negativity can go suck an egg.

Cavern feels like an afterthought, but must have been a fun final release.

Encore: Theme & Sweet Adeline are both nice. Theme is very well played in comparison to Trey's recent attempts at the middle section. (but it's ok, keep trying!)

Overall a great set II. This is a really solid show. The first set isn't the best in the world, but it's by no means bad. The second set is bundles of fun, with great flow and excellent jamming. The Gin and Hood are both absolutely money. Throw in a very cool SOAM-> Jam and perfectly placed Lifeboy & Keyboard and you've got a winner.

4.25/5 another great show in a great December 95 run.


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