Date:    Sun, 7 Dec 1997 20:58:59 GMT
From:    Scott Silton 
Subject: 12/28/93 Show Review (long)

Originally I intended to write a nice comprehensive review of the whole 93
NYE but alas I have run out of time before I head off to exams and shows and
family and skiing... so I now present reviews of each of the first 3 93 NYE
shows.  (I'll post the whole enchalada in January when it's all polished and
finished).  These shows are GREAT!  The 93 and 95 NYE runs are still my
favorite tours ever... here's part of the reason why:

12/28/93 Bender Arena, Washington DC

No review of this tour is complete without talking about the stage.  The stage
was set up like a giant fish tank; the 8 corners (4 on stage and 4 above in
the light rack) were plexiglass corners lit up with black lights.  There were
fish 'swimming' in the air, dangling from the rack.  There was an large clam
in the center rear of the stage, and there was ferns and starfish and other
ocean motifs laying about the monitors and stage equipment.  All were brightly
colored with fluorescent paint and all looked great under the lights.  To
date, this is the coolest stage setup that phish has ever created.  Every
year, I hope for a revamped fish tank over the NYE run.  If you haven't seen
this, check out the liner notes to A Live One, page 32 (you'll see the
starfish) to catch a glimpse.

Also notable is the PA music being played.  All the songs seem to have
a water theme!  I cannot remember the details, of course, but this has been
commented on before, so I know I'm not crazy.

Set I:

PEACHES EN REGALIA:

Ok, ok, I must give myself credit because I MADE THE CALL.  Before the show,
I wondered aloud if they would honor the recent passing of Frank Zappa with
this (or another) Zappa tune.  I love this tune, and I enjoy phish's rendition
of it.  At the time, we had no idea how important this tune would be in the
next 4 days.

POOR HEART:

Both in-show and on tape, I am astounded by this turn of music.
>From Zappa to rocking bluegrass.  The crowd, already energized from Peaches
(and from the anticipation of waiting for the show to start) is hopping!
Having said that, this is a normal PH.

SPLIT OPEN & MELT:

You should probably label this PH>Split, as Fishman starts the Split on what
would have been the concluding power chord to PH.  The opening is standard,
played with just a few mistakes; Trey skips a few words - he sounds out of
breath, and it is barely noticeable - and makes a tiny flub during the guitar
bit before "We Breathe Deep".  The jam builds reasonably quickly, and the
'top' of the jam is smoking - Trey is in definite shred mode - but the very
last phrase before they cut out is not quite as smoking as the few before it.
Overall, an above-average Split Open!

ESTHER:

A welcome treat!  This Esther is faithfully executed, with just a minor flub
by Trey at the beginning of the outro solo.

THE OH KEE PAH CEREMONY-> SUZIE GREENBERG

Oh Kee Pah!  We must be getting a Suzie!  Yeah!!  At the time, this was a song
I had not yet tired of.  And on tape, the setlist placement is choice.  Being
a set opener or closer or encore has gotten boring.  I also very much enjoy
the Oh Kee music, especially as an introduction to a rocking tune like Suzie
(or AC/DC, for that matter).  Both the short and long piano solos - which, a
s we all know, are the backbone of a nice Suzie - are smoking.  The exit from
the longer solo was not very crisp, however.  Fishman contributes some ranting
about the neurologist and the song concludes.  So far, this set is quite
high-energy!  Great fun.

YA MAR

Another above-average version of a tune I happen to enjoy and it includes
a nice Auld Lang Syne tease toward the end.

IT'S ICE

I think Ice is one of Phish's finest tunes.  It has compositional complexity,
interesting rhythms, way-better-than-average lyrics, and an opportunity for a
jam.  Although perhaps overplayed at times, I generally welcome its appearance
in a show.  This is no exception.  The jam has lots of Page, and he plays a
fuller, 'twinkly' version of the 'carnival' theme (from Esther and the Random
note signal) at one point.  Page is totally on top of things for the outro of
the jam (after Fish gets things moving with his flam, before Trey steps in
with the composed flying guitar part).  The jam is not terribly long, and the
whole band doesn't gel like it does sometimes (5/13/94, for example).  Still,
a decent Ice, well placed in this set.

FEE:

This Fee starts up right as Ice dies down. This Fee was well played and included
the megaphone.  Page continues to shine.  He plays a tasty repeating melodic
theme during the end in addition to his usual fills.

POSSUM:

A very appropriate set closer for this high-energy, moderately jammed set.
The intro finds Trey striking some neat chords before Fish fires up what I
call the "Possum Roll" to get things going for good.  During the jam, the
whole band teases a tune I can't quite put my finger on before Trey takes the
lead.  Soon after he does, he leads the band into Kashmir by Led Zeppelin for
a few bars; Fishman pushes forward and the jam enters familiar Possum
territory.  A fine Possum to close a fine set!!

Set II:

SAMPLE:

It is hard to compare Samples so I will not.  This one is probably pretty
close to being like most Samples.  At the time of the show, I had no Samples
on tape, so I enjoyed this tune immensely.  Also unique to this tour were the
3 racks of white lights that could be elevated to various levels behind the
stage; they were unveiled during the guitar solo in Sample (eliciting a cheer
you can hear on tape).

YEM:

This is a fine YEM, definitely the highlight of the set if not the show.
The opening sections all included fine work by Trey although neither shot at
"the note" was all that scintillating to me.  BMGS brings the crowd UP, like
usual, and the tramps jam that followed was a fun ride.  The highlight was the
long funky build, of course; Trey shreds and the band jams.  Bass and drums
were fine, and the vocal jamů well, I can't say much in the way of comparing
vocal jams.  I find them to be an excellent opportunity to sit down and relax!
Overall, a very very good YEM on the basis of the central jam segment which
rocked hard.

MY FRIEND MY FRIEND:

The opening section was played on an acoustic guitar (nice touch).
Otherwise, to my ears, a MFMF is a MFMF is a MFMF.

LIZARDS:

A lovely tune and lovely set placement IMO.  Page's flying piano part is
wonderful as usual.

FAST ENOUGH FOR YOU:

This is one of those tunes that people blow off but shouldn't.  If you like
melodic Trey solos, don't let the fact that "this isn't fast enough for you"
turn you off to this song!  Although not as tasty as 2/20/93 or 6/28/95, I do
enjoy this FEFY.  Perhaps a better first set song, but still a fine song.

THE SLOTH:

I can't really compare this Sloth to others, they all seem the same to me.
Not that this wasn't a welcome treat at the show; it caught us relative newbie
folk by surprise.  On tape, no comment.

UNCLE PENN:

It is funny how listening to phish a lot has made me appreciate some forms
of music that I would never have opened my mind to otherwise.  I'm still not
the biggest fan of bluegrass, but when listening to this tape for purposes of
this review, I caught myself tapping my feet like crazy.  I guess it must be
pretty fun :).

HARRY HOOD:

A fine Harry, but not worth talking about because I know I'm going to get to
listen to 12/31 soon and that is just plain better.

HIGHWAY TO HELL:

This just rocked the house down.  Not that it was an especially wonderful
version of Highway - like 4/9/94, when Trey busts it out for the poor guy
screaming for "AC/DC!" (BAG, we all assume) - but the crowd ate it up anyway.
I can't listen to this on tape without seeing all 5000 phans at Bender Arena
with their hands in the air, jamming like crazy.  I was enjoying myself, but
also shocked at how well received this tune was by the otherwise mellow phishy
people.

the encore of MEMORIES & GOLGI:

Is fine, nothing special.  Wonderful concert tunes for those of us who had never
heard a Golgi, but on tape, obviously, perhaps a bit staid.  I dunno, Golgi
still rocks!  Trey says goodbye by saying "See you in Portland - Err, New
Haven!"

Overall, the Bender show kicked ass.  Good balance of different kinds of songs, with
some excellent extended jamming in YEM, and moderate jams in SOAM, Ice,
Possum, and Hood.  A nice show to have on tape, but by no means a 'must have';
there is no doubt that my enjoyment of the tapes is helped by my having had a
blast at the show (hearing a lot of firsts, the aquarium setup, being with
friends, etc.)  The varied setlist is nice to hear at a show, but not a major
imperative for tape collection in my opinion.

We went to my home starting to worry about the snow.  There was 4 inches of snow on
the ground and we knew we'd have more to deal with the next day.  After a nice
night's sleep, we got on the road early for what would normally be a 6 hour
journey to New Haven.

(to be continued in post "12/29/93 Show Review (long)"

Scott
silton.1@osu.edu