Feb. 6th, 1993: Roseland Ballroom, New York NY

Night número dos at the Roseland! Festivities kick off with the first “Golgi” of tour, which I always thinks works well as a show/set opener. A standard “Foam” follows before another tour debut: “Wilson.” This is before the crowd call-and-response existed (I think it might begin this tour?) so in lieu of that we get some creepy “Wilson” chants from the band and some short, dissonant piano lines from Page. Speaking of call-and-response, there’s some good interplay between Trey and Page in a relatively subdued section between verses. There are multiple Secret Language signals during the ending fake-out, but instead of the Trey rock solo I expect after the “blat-boom” part the song kind of just peters out as Trey picks up his acoustic guitar. Not sure if that’s how the song is being played these days or if it’s an oddity of this version; we’ll see as the tour develops. Nevertheless between the wackiness in the intro and during the ending fake-out this is definitely an interesting “Wilson.”

c1mzzpz

The cheapest I’ve paid to see Phish is $45 for a lawn ticket.

“My Friend, My Friend” is up next with the first couple minutes played on acoustic guitar. The acoustic intro as well as the general tightness of this song at this time has really led me to enjoy “My Friend, My Friend” this tour. “Maze” follows and brings a lot more fireworks and excitement than the previous Providence performance to my ears. Great solos and peaks from both Page and Trey tonight, which is all I really ask from “Maze.” “Horn” rounds out a trio of Rift songs; Trey is briefly out of tune at the beginning but sounds fine during the rest of the song (I don’t think he’s just playing in the wrong key since the intro relies on an open E which is probably the easiest tonal center to remember/play on guitar). I really like “Horn,” especially the outro solo, so its presence in a first set is always welcome by me. “Divided Sky” is well placed next and opens the show up a bit after a set full of shorter tunes (“Maze” notwithstanding). If Phish keeps playing “Divided Sky” this well I’ll start leaving it off my highlights list but once again it is the clear high point of the set for me. The entire composition sounds very tightly played, there’s no momentum-killing minute of dead space in the middle with the crowd cheering mindlessly, and the solo from Trey at the end is tight and energetic, blowing past what could have been the ending of the song at least once.

“Lawn Boy” cools things off before the third “Wedge” in four shows. The song is keeping its rocking, jazzy piano intro from Page that it has had since its debut but this performance is a little less dynamic and extended than the Providence version I loved. “Antelope” closes out the set and like “Maze” I like this version quite a bit more than the previous outing and for the same reason, it has a bit more fire in its solo. Overall, I think I would have to put this set up there with Portland for best first set of tour so far. The jammier songs that return from previous nights are played better here (“Maze, “Run Like an Antelope”), there’s a number of well-played tour debuts (“Wilson,” “Golgi,” “Horn”), and we get another show-stopping mid-set “Divided Sky.” The band also sounds tight and both Page and Trey are killing their solos. All in all, things bode well for set 2.

“Chalk Dust” once again opens set 2 and is followed by “Mound”, both of which are kept within a tight 6 minutes. The set opens up a bit with “Stash” which really starts to cook by 6:30 with a good Trey solo. The segment from 7:40-8:10 is very brief but also glorious and a great encapsulation of the technique Phish was so adept at during this time. As if on cue the band starts to fall out of sync and quiet down, with each member sounding as if they’re heading off in their own direction. Then all four members snap back together on the same beat and roll right into the peak of the song as if nothing happened. It’s impressive to hear and I’m sure was even more so first hand. It’s not a long “Stash,” 10:31 on my recording, but there’s a lot of good stuff packed in a couple short minutes. An a cappella but amplified “Sweet Adeline” follows and is fun but maybe ever so slightly kills the momentum after such a strong “Stash.”

Thankfully, things pick right back up after the “All Things Reconsidered” fugue with a strong Mike’s Groove. “Mike’s Song” starts in a silly and weird manner as Mike goes on and on about this song being “my song” and the rest of the band responding by saying it’s “his song.” They alter the lyrics of the verses accordingly and the music as well to place a greater spotlight on Mike. Fishman screams “MIKE’S SONG!” in glorious fashion before the final chorus. We haven’t gotten to the jam and this is already a humorous and notable “Mike’s Song.” The jam has a very funky start with no Trey and Page having fun on the organ. Trey then comes in with a solid solo before a second jam of sorts starts around 5:30. This performance is strong and sounds a lot more musically consistent and together than the all-over-the-place “Mike’s Song” from Providence. “Hydrogen” serves as the sandwich, and “Weekapaug” develops a solid groove by 3:00. Trey brings the jam to a solid peak and they then build through a solid tension and release segment. Each piece is played well and there’s good improvisation sprinkled throughout, so this is a Mike’s Groove to recommend.

chx7dqu

It’s his song.

“Big Ball Jam” reappears tonight after a “Lifeboy”cooldown and an instrumental “Uncle Pen” (though we lose “Amazing Grace,” so I guess those two ‘songs’ will only be played once at each venue). The same can’t be said for the Henrietta segment, which has graced us with its presence at every show so far. Once again, “Lengthwise” follows “Hold Your Head Up,” after Fishman comments on the “shocking reality” we find ourselves and refuses to tell “the prison joke.” Instead of heading back into “Hold Your Head Up” the band throws us a real twist by instead starting up a “Buried Alive” that has guest John Poppper joining halfway through the song on harmonica, leading to a slightly extended rendition of the song. “Possum” closes out the set with Popper once again on harmonica and Noel Redding on bass, delivering a harmonica solo in place of Trey’s usual spotlight. “Fire” sends the crowd home with the same pair of guests.

As I hoped, the night off from traveling seems to have rejuvenated the band a bit for a strong second night at the Roseland. While the lack of any long track lengths initially had me worried about the amount of improvisation at this show there’s actually a lot of great jamming to be heard, it’s just sprinkled judiciously across the songs and features a lot of ideas packed into short amounts of time. Beyond the jamming through I really liked the pacing/song placement of both sets and the playing is tight. I do worry that the long drive down to D.C. combined with playing shows 5 nights in a row will leave the band feeling a bit fatigued tomorrow night, as I’m sure even the road warrior Phish of 1993 is not not totally immune from the stress of touring, but that will be for us to find out tomorrow.

  • Show rating: 4/5
  • Highlights: “Divided Sky,” “Stash,” “Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove”

Show stats:

  • Phish.net setlist
  • First set length: 78 mins.
  • Second set length: 85 mins.
  • This was the third time Phish performed at the Roseland Ballroom. They will return on 5/23/00.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Horn,” returning after a thirteen show absence (12/7/92).
  • The best represented studio album is Rift (8 songs).
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This entry was posted in 1993, Review, Winter/Spring 1993 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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