Feb. 4th, 1993: Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence RI

The second night of tour is Phish’s only appearance at the Providence Performing Arts Center. Festivities kick off with “Axilla.” My recording of the show unfortunately cuts in after the song has begun. My source continues to cut in and out during “Axilla” but levels stabilize by the end of the following “Foam,” which is played well. There’s not much to note about the “Bouncing Around the Room” and “Maze” except for Trey missing the timing at the end of “Bouncing,” leading to a sloppy sounding ending.

“Fast Enough for You” follows “Maze” and is both well placed and well played, providing a nice mid-set breather. “Stash” soon follows, and its jam gets dark by the 6 minute mark. This segment contains several minutes of interesting interplay as the band brings the tension to a peak and slides smoothly back into the song’s ending by 10:00. It’s a short but sweet jam that gives this set a spark of improvisational excitement. The debut of “Sample in a Jar” is near the end of this set, and the band messes up the return to the second chorus. Trey remarks after about keeping all the new songs straight, referring to the plethora of debuts the night before. “Run Like an Antelope” fills the high-energy set closer slot and provides the most furious shredding from Trey of the set.

“Thanks, we’ll be right back, don’t go away!”

providence-performing-arts-center-4f58c4c646d09d213800005b

Providence Performing Arts Center – Looks really nice!

“Chalk Dust Torture” kicks off the second set the same way that “Antelope” closed the first: with lots of energy. It’s funny how the last couple years of Phish (2014/15) have left me expecting “Chalk Dust” to explode into an adventurous type-II jam whenever it opens a second set, but that’s obviously not how the song was played at this time. The band sounds tight on this number, more together than they were for most of the first set, and it’s about as fun as a 7 minute “Chalk Dust” can be. “The Wedge” is next and our first repeat of the tour. The song keeps the jazzy, Page-heavy arrangement that debuted last night in Portland and it sounds even better tonight. Once again Page opens the song with a solo, and at about 2 minutes in the rest of the band drops out almost completely to let Page steal the spotlight with another solo. He rages it hard for a couple minutes as the rest of the band gradually picks back up and finally drop back into the final chorus at about 5:10. Fans of the song will definitely want to hear this version; it’s tighter played and has more dynamics than the debut last night and Page absolutely kills it. I’m curious to see if they keep this arrangement for the rest of the tour or if we’ll soon hear it morph into something more akin to its current incarnation.

A lengthy Mike’s Groove follows “The Wedge” and makes up the middle portion of this second set. This is a very messy “Mike’s Song.” A psychedelic mess. Early in Trey’s solo (around 4:50) the band starts to sound like they’re barely holding things together and the song sounds as if its tearing apart by 6:10, but they manage to snap back together sharply and end the song with precision before the eight minute mark. Not a particularly noteworthy “Mike’s,” but certainly a wild one. “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY” replaces “Hydrogen” as the post-“Mike’s” song. Musically if you have heard one of these sequences you have heard them all, but it’s a rare treat nonetheless at a show so you’ll rarely if ever hear me complain about hearing one. “Weekapaug” starts very high-tempo, much faster than I’ve heard it played in recent year. Trey latches on to a catchy riff early in the jam and returns to variations of it throughout the jam. The guitar playing leads the band to an early peak around 4:40 full of glorious TreyTrills™ and the group then breaks things down by 5:20. At 7:00 it sounds like they’re about to return to the song’s refrain, but instead they drop into a Mike-led funk jam. Gradually they layer over the lyrics over this funk and morph the lyrics into a full-on “Push th’ Little Daisies” tease.  This is a great “Weekapaug” that is a fun and experimental journey and easily the improvisational highlight of the show so far.

weekapaug-groove

It’s appropriate for Phish to play a wild “Weekapaug Groove” in Rhode Island

“Lawn Boy > Uncle Pen” cools things down a bit after the intense Mike’s Groove, and following is the nightly “Big Ball Jam” and Henrietta segment. As far as Henrietta segments go, this one is particular humorous and absurd. “Lengthwise” makes a rare appearance in the “Hold Your Head Up” sandwich and features Fishman on vocals solo for several minutes. He drags out words for humorous effects, screws up the lyrics, and starts again to the crowd’s approval. After a while the rest of the band starts up a silly jam (different from the studio version’s instrumentation) to accompany Fishman. If you want to hear a weird or lengthy “Lengthwise” look no further (and who doesn’t?). “Harry Hood” and “Cavern” close out the set. This “Hood” has Trey play the “Lengthwise” melody early on in the jam, which is a bit goofy, but he quickly gets serious and delivers a compelling and emotional solo after that drives the “Hood” to a glorious and deserved peak. Great “Hoods” are aplenty during this era, but that fact shouldn’t be used as a knock against the excellence of this one.

It takes a while to shush the crowd for tonight’s “Amazing Grace,” which kicks off the encore. Once they quiet down though it’s a relatively listenable tape of the, once again, unamplified performance. The crowd does occasionally erupt into brief outbursts though. A sharply played “Good Times Bad Times” sends the crowd home.

My feelings toward the first set of this show can be described as “eh.” Besides for a nice “Fast Enough for You” and some brief experimentation in “Stash” it didn’t do a lot for me. But the second really redeems it, in my eyes. It has a strong opening, an interesting “Wedge” early on, a weird Mike’s Groove that peaks in a really strong improvisational highlight with “Weekapaug,” a more-humorous-than-normal Henrietta segment, and a great “Hood” to close. I felt very satisfied after listening to the second half of this show and I feel like I can’t ask for much more from a set of this tour. We’ll return tomorrow night live from the Big Apple to kick off the first weekend of tour!

Show rating: 4/5

  • Highlights: “Stash,” “The Wedge,” “Weekapaug Groove,” “Hold Your Head Up > Lengthwise > HYHU,” “Harry Hood”

Show stats:

  • Phish.net setlist
  • Debut: “Sample in a Jar” (Anastasio/Marshall)
  • First set length: ~75 minutes
  • Second set length: 86 minutes
  • This was the first and last time Phish performed at the Providence Performing Arts Center.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Lawn Boy” and “Lengthwise,” both songs returning after a ten show absence (12/8/92).
  • The best represented studio album is Rift (6 songs).
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