Date: Wed, 5 Mar 1997 14:00:53 +0000 (GMT)
From: Michael Armstrong
Subject: The Botanique: one big-small room

        2/14/97 Le Botanique. Bruxelles, Belgium.

this was definitely my favorite show and venue. glad to get out of London
and to be seeing another show after calming down from the initial buzz of
seeing phish again. the venue was in the botanical gardens/center in
bruxelles, hence the name. lots of art work lined the hallways. along with
loads of nice plant life. this wasn't the dark, beat-up smokey kind of
atmosphere I was expecting for these shows. it was clean, artsy, and
professional...and the actual hall was just one big-small room. like half
of a small high school bball floor. good number of belgians at the show,
it didn't have the talky american feel, and there was plenty of room to
dance if you wanted to be on the outside of the main bulk of people. we
weren't all packed tight in there. the floor was all one level, the tapers
just lined up along the back wall, and the stage was up high enough that
you could see from some point during the first set trey
mentioned how much they were enjoying playing that night for the crowd and
in the could really feel the sparks that night. and because it
was only the second show, anything could happen. i didn't have the
slightly jaded edge that I took into some of the later shows on tour. (i
think i just saw too many shows) certainly didn't expect a YEM in the
number three spot of the first set. oddly placed in relation to where I'm
used to hearing it, but that certainly didn't bother me...and this was
after a nice Runaway Jim and an unexpected NICU...the show/set started out
on a strong foot. and the set closed with an antelope that they DID
finish, the only one of 3 that I saw that they finished. I hope this
doesn't become a habit. i didn't really like them bailing on the antelope
in 2nd gear, but it did show that they were just stretching out so far
that they couldn't bring it back, or went somewhere else and din't want to
turn around or go back to finish...although (and I read this somewhere
else) it ain't really antelope when you don't hear the big gear shift and
the chorus...but if they start doing this all or most of the time, nada   
one can do about it but to see what happens. maybe finished antelopes will
become a rarity for awhile...the cycle, man, dig it. second set opens with
the best AC/DC Bag I have ever seen. it was soooo slow and swank and
groovin, and it always works so well for me as a set opener. now, I don't
know how the DWD will transfer to tape, but anyone who was there will
remember the intensity in trey's solo. he hurt us with this one, it was
punishment. I can't speak in specific terms, because my notes ain't that
extensive (I'm always dancing too much) but there was this look on his
face throughout the jam, like "hold on, it's gonna be a bumpy ride on the
trey DWD express, and yer gonna love every minute of it" he was doing the
chracteristic swaying movement, head cocked up to the sky, eyes closed,
mouth open. toying with us. playing the "you thought THAT was the last
riff I had in me?, wait until you hear THIS!" and he would go off again.
he knew it, we knew it.  when the express finally
slowed down into the station, he signalled to fish and gave us 8 or 9
chord/drum crashes to finish off the display...this was classic trey as a
rock star. anytihg else I remeber that deserves comment? no. 

please send me hateful mail, there isn't enough of it to go around these

michael armstrong (   
Subject: Brussels show review
Date: 20 Feb 1997 17:23:01 GMT
From: Frederic Howell - EECS

Caution: There are negative comments.  I still had a great time.  I like
Phish and their music, even when not optimally jammed.  These opinions
were formed well after the show and therefore had no effect on my
enjoyment of it. This is based on my memory. I don't have the tapes.

As you maybe heard, the venue is small.  Worst possible spot on the floor
probably would correspond to a 10th row seat in a major venue.  To put it
another way, when Trey sang, all he could see was the back wall.

Runaway Jim - not spacey and not particularly soaring ( my measuring stick
for a soaring Run. Jim is Santa Cruz '91 BTW): seemed flawlessly performed

NICU - Before this show, I had a version of this song on tape from 5/92. 
Somehow, the chorus seemed slower.  The verses were fine.  Great to hear
in any case, well performed.

YEM - 3rd song! 1st time since 5/15/88?  Trey solos out the first note,
the second note has beautiful sustain.  Tramps are present and bounced
upon. Keyboard jam didn't make an impression.  Guitar solo begins with
some very melodic noodling.  It then shifts to some "sustain"-y phrases,
followed by a short but good climax segment.  Long bass jam(from my tape
experience) - hardly any slapping, I think.  Vocal jam.

Sweet Adeline - no mics  - crowd wasn't too bad.

Axilla Pt. 1 - my first Pt.1 It doesn't really matter that much, does it?
well played.

It's Ice - well played, spacey middle section

Billy Breathes - Placement counts.  I didn't like this song when I heard
it in Seattle 10/3/95, and I don't like it that much on the album, but
here it was perfect, just great to hear... until the guitar solo.  It just
didn't grow out of the song organically, e.g. killed the flow.  The guitar
solo was pretty long, but never got really wailing or trilling -

Uncle Pen - It is a bleugrass song played by Phish.  You can do a jig to
it or go to the bathroom.

Run Like An Antelope - Maybe tapes will prove me wrong, but the jam
segment seemed a mess.  Maybe it was the acoustics.

Set 2

ACDC Bag - I don't remember this song that well.

Yamar - I thought Trey's solo was fantastic, so flowing, never a wrong
note, or botched tempo.  How does he do that?

Down With Disease - crowd favorite easily, not a long intro, verse/chorus
seemed normal, jam segment quickly abandons outro riff - proceeds to
something very "WHO"-ish.  Trey is chording.  Mike is playing this bass
line that basically serves as the melody for the jam.  Trey would break
out of the wash of chords to wail a few times, but what really sticks in
my head is what Mike was playing.  Perhaps a bit repetitive, but I loved
every minute.

Funky Bitch - Last time I saw this was in Boise 6/7/95.  Page had a solo
at the end of the song, which didn't seem to fit right.  In this one his
solo comes in the middle before Trey's.  Well played, maybe even awesome,
but I was still so blown away by the DWD, that it might have suffered a
bit in comparison.

Reba - Trey and Page didn't quite seem to be synchronized when they play
that line in the composed part.  Nothing disastrous, but I have Lawn Boy,
and that's my standard.  Jam segment: I couldn't really concentrate on it.
I've gotten used to listening/meditating to Reba jams on tape.  It just
didn't feel right with an audience around me.  Seemed like pretty good
opening minutes of the jam; perhaps not the best jammed out to peak.  No
whistling, and I think many folks didn't clap because they wanted to hear

Walfredo - basically Trey on piano and vocals with 3 guys backing him up.
I think there was a line "when Fish used to play the vacuum".

New song - I liked this one better.  Not rocket science, but it's got
charm and swing.  caught a lyric having something to do with "children of
the corn". Fish on lyrics and guitar, adds a nice little riff in the
second half. Chorus: "Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooohwadawada" approximately.

Scent of A Mule - opening standard ; Page's solo "full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing" (I think that's the quote)... then

A Day in the Life - not significantly different from the version I heard
in Seattle 10/2/95


Character Zero - Mercy on my eardrums: ADITL and Ch0!  Rockin' and

Review of Brussels, from European phish page

  All right folks here we go for a short review:
1st Set:

The room held no more than 600 people. There was a small bar where the
four of them came for a drink after the show. Oh and just before the shows
started, Fish went out for a quick walk just in the street where the
Botanique is located.

Runaway Jim: Man, this was my third tour and every time they keep opening
with Jim. Great starter though, classic but powerful. Sapcey section in
the middle of the song

NICU: Is this 12/28/96 ? anyway, classic but good as always.

Yem: Here we go, third song and already yem. The opener was excellent, the
jam began with trey playing a very calm theme that came over and over
again. It made me think of an Old santana tune i can't remember the name.
The end of the jam was very loud with a couple of very nice peeks. The
vocal jam ended up with (what seemed to me) as someone brathing very
slowly in the middle of a jungle. On of them was making a "froggy sound"
while the other one (Mike is think) was trying to simulate a big, wilde
animal sound (like a buffalo or a cow that is ruminating)...

Sweet adeline: so sweet, my first adeline ever

Axilla Pt 1: Rocking as always , very classic version.

It's ice: Well for me this was one of the very best parts of the show. It
seemed like they were trying to revive the good old '92/93 versions of
that song. Which means that it was played slowly and that the section just
before page's solo was much longer and more precise (if you get my point)
than usually in 95/96 shows. Very good version.

Billy Breathes: Long jammed, very long....Nothing to compare with 12/28/95
which was the only BB i had seen so far. This one was played much longer,
Trey going slightly mad at the end with a very nice guitar solo that
stayed calm till the end.

Uncle Pen: Jumping time

Run like an Antelope: this stays as my favorite 1st set closer (with
Frankenstein). Good version, rocking one. Not the best one i have seen but
still very loud. Incredible to see that this song doesn't loose anything
of its power even in such a small room...

1h 15 minutes

2nd Set

Ac/Dc Bag: One of the highlights of the second set, really, they came back
like 3 or 4 times, peak-calm-peak-calm...In and out in and out. Really a
very good version, better than the IMHO very disapointing one of 12/30/96.

Yamar: I just can't tell you how i love that song. Everytime i hear it i
can't admit that it is still winter outside. I'm sure there must be a
sunny place somewhere... Trey was very happy during that one, he had those
carribean movements during Page's solo.

Down with disease: THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE EVENING---no doubt about
it. I just can tell you one thing: More powerful and maybe as long as NYE
96 but without BALOONS.....

Funky Bitch: Standard version, Page go crazy on the Piano, i was a bit
disapointed because it didn't really take me off but that was because of
the DWD just before i guess...

Reba: Nice jam, The only thing i've noticed was that Fish started again
with some of his weird sounds in the first section of the song, just like
on 11/8/96.

Walfredo: All right, this is a new one--Page on Drums, Mike on guitar,
Trey on the Piano, and Fish on the bass. It starts with a 3 notes piano
theme (just like an Rem song-don't ask me which one).The song is very
funny, a little ballade in fact. Walfredo refers to a guy from Santana's
band with whom Phish toured last summer in Europe. It has also something
to do with the Italian tomato sauce:
Alfredo..Oh and the lyrics say something about a show in Colorado where
"Fish was playing vacuum". Don't know wih one it is. XXYZ this is stuff
for you i guess...

Rocka William: Very scary, horror show song---chFish on guitar +Lead
vocals, Mike on Piano, Trey on drums, Page on the bass. Fish sings this
very dark but again funny song. I understood that Rocka Willam is a very
bad person, always hanging around with a hammer in his hand. One day he
even killed a bear with it. I've noticed that at a certain point, fish is
singing about RW sister staying whith Timber HO upstairs. Rocka William
goes up to kill him and the narrator (fish here) wants to help him but he
keeps thinking about that bear and what happended to him...the chorus of
the song goes like: HOUUUUU- Rocka William X2

Scent of a mule; A bit frustrating because it was unfinished, left just
after Page entered the greek theme...

A day in the Life: Classic version but veeery loud at the end..I thought
they were gonna go back into Soamule but they didn't , they left under
huge applauses.

1h 20 min


Character Zero: thanks and see you guys on sunday in Germany

 If you have any comment , questions please email me at

Kevin Shewan
Brussels - La Botanique 14/2/97 

I hadn't planned to go to this gig - London and Amsterdam yes but this was
an added bonus! A client had called to ask me to meet up with her to do a
site visit in Cannes the day after the London gig - frantic checking of
the tour schedule and the flight times meant I could be in Brussels by
6.30 p.m. giving me two hours to get to the gig, all I needed was a
ticket!! A call to the "charge by phone" number told me the agency had
sold out - " have you any friends in Belgium?" I was asked because the
FNAC outlets still have tickets but they are for personal callers only.
Suddenly I remembered Benjamin - he'd e-mailed me two weeks before in
response to a post in and offered to sort out tickets,
somewhere to crash etc. if I wanted to go to Belgium, Köln etc. 

"Can you get me a ticket?" I e-mailed 

"I can get you a ticket if you can get here" was the reply 

"I can get there" 

Anyway I got to the Botanique at around 7.15 and headed to the bar (I can
highly recommend the Chimmay Bleu if you are ever in Belgium) and after
being served I was looking to see if I could spot Ben. Suddenly before I
knew what was happening I was face to face with Trey -I shook his hand and
made a cheap crack about passports and then had a camera pushed into my
hands and had to take a photo of him and two American chaps. 

After he went I noticed that Mike and Jon were also hanging out in the
bar. anyway I went back to waiting for Ben who not only had my ticket but
also knew where I was going to crash that night!! 

I got talking to a lot of phans, most of whom seemed to be Americans and
then at 8.25 (five minutes before the starting time) I finally found Ben
and my ticket. We shot straight into the arena pausing only to have my bag
searched by the security. 

NOTE: Fascism is alive and well and working as security at La Botanique,
during the evening I saw security guards ripping cameras from peoples
hands and pulling film out in front of them. I managed to get off two
shots before I realised what was happening and spent the rest of the first
set with my camera stuffed down the front of my trousers to protect it!! 

Anyway the venue was quite small (600-800 people) and the door through
which you entered deposited you right at the front next to Page's
keyboards. I decided to stay there and to be honest being so close to the
front was a lot more enjoyable than in London the previous night - not so
much of a crush. 

Phish opened with Runaway Jim, the second time I'd seen them open with
this and then continued with NICU and them YEM, at the end of YEM the band
gathered at the front (literally in front of me) and sang Sweet Adeline
without mic's (If you get a tape you might just be able to hear me shout
Freebird just before they start singing!) They then continued with Axilla,
It's Ice, BB, Uncle Penn and ended the first set with Antelope. 

Out to the bar for much need refreshment and a toilet break - Belgian
toilets employ old ladies to charge you for admission!( This used to be
commonplace in Europe but as the 21st Century nears most European
countries seem to have ditched this quaint custom - but not Belgium) She
wanted 10 BF I put my hand in my pocket and came out with a fist full of
change, English, French and Belgian so I ended up just holding out my hand
and letting her help herself!!! 

Back in the bar I got into a conversation with an American (who I would
later meet again in Amsterdam) and I was telling him how my kids had
changed from liking The Spice Girls to liking Billy Breathes and told him
that their favourite song was Character Zero and how they also liked
Reba(or as they called it "The Bag it Tag it song") 

A couple of beers later I was back down the front as the second set began
with AC/DC bag, followed by YaMar, DWD, Funky Bitch, Reba then the new
Walfredo and Rockawilliam The set finished with Scent of a Mule which
ended suddenly and changed into A day in the life;. By this time I was
leaning on the front of the stage, close enough to watch Trey's
fingers on that fretboard (I'll never pick up my guitar again!). The
encore was my kids favourite Character Zero. 

Back in the bar I met my new found Belgian friends, Ben, Jack, Gary and
Steve and their other friends - before I knew where I was I was sitting at
a table with Mike and eight others(all European!). Now those of you who've
read the page about the interview on GLR may remember that my question to
Mike and Jon had concerned the numbers of Americans appearing at the
European gigs. 

Mikes first question was "So, do you think there were many Americans in
there tonight?" 

Mike then told a story about the braces he'd recently had to straighten
his teeth. Apparently he'd taken a single frame of his face every day he'd
had the brace on and after 4 months he had a short film of his teeth
moving into their new positions. 

After a while we were joined by Fish who stayed for a few minutes before
wandering off in search of beer. 

A while later we were back inside the venue talking with Trey and Mike
(who was wandering around with a huge box of Belgian chocolates forcing
people to eat them!) and we managed to convince them to go for a beer at a
bar in Brussels. 

So some of us got into cars and some of us (much to Brad's annoyance) got
on the bus. I was sitting upstairs at the back when Trey came up and
offered me beer (what a nice man!) we got talking and I told him about how
I was going to have to go home and break it to the kids that they had
played their favourite songs. Before I knew where I was Trey was asking
about my kids and telling me about his daughter and how his wife was
expecting their second in two months time. (You know you're getting old
when you end up talking to Rock stars about kids!!!!). 

Anyway I can exclusively reveal that the CD in the machine that night on
the bus was the new CD from Pavement. 

Following a close call when Brad tried to throw some of us off the bus I
was forced to go and sit up the front with Trey and Jon. We set off, the
bus following Jack and Steve in their cars to a bar called Peet's bar. On
the way Fishman told a weird story about this girl he been seeing and how
a week after they split up she was involved in a car crash and is now
paralysed from the neck down and how he now gets on better with her than

Anyway we finally got to the bar and we all headed in, I got talking to
another American who just kept saying "I can't believe this! I'm hanging
with Phish!!" 

About 2.30 Brad was wandering around with a concerned expression on his
face and looking at his watch. I leaned over to Trey and said "I think
your mom wants you in bed" He smiled and 5 minutes later they left. 

We all went back to Steve's where I got about 2 hours sleep before flying
back to England, having a shower at my Dad's getting changed, meeting up
with Valerie, my wife, and flying out to Amsterdam.