Once again this tour we find ourselves following the lines going south, except this time we won’t be heading back north for quite a while. Tonight’s show is in Delaware and it features the second show-opening “David Bowie” of tour after a first in Rochester. The intro is kept relatively short tonight and doesn’t include multiple minutes of mini-jams and Secret Language codes. The jam is concise as well and played in-the-box tonight, leading it to be less adventurous than some of the “Bowies” we have heard so far. Nevertheless it has a solid tension/release segment and the band sounds locked in from the start, all of which bodes well for the rest of the show. “Bouncing” serves as a breather before we run through a “Poor Heart > It’s Ice > Glide > Rift” sequence. I don’t have much to say about this run of setlist regulars except that the songs flow well when strung together like this and that the band sounds tight throughout.
“Stash” is played next and provides another opportunity for the band to stretch their improvisational chops, but alas, as has too often been the case this tour, this song is kept relatively confined and gets…messy…for a couple minutes, but in the same way as it has every performance this tour. “Lawn Boy” is dedicated to the entire state of Delaware in honor of Phish’s first gig in the state. While last night’s first set opened “Golgi > Maze,” tonight’s first ends with “Maze, Golgi.” Both solos in “Maze” have a good bit of fire to them tonight, making it stronger than last night’s “Maze,” and “Golgi” is always a fun way to wrap up a set as this concise, 60 minute first half comes to a close. This is a fairly average first set for the tour but everything is well played and the band sound well rested even though this is their 5th night playing in a row. The sequence from “Poor Heart” through “Rift” has a good flow and their are some good solos in “David Bowie” and “Maze.” Nevertheless, I would like to see some more experimentation in the second half.
Set 2 opens with “Runaway Jim,” as it did a few nights ago as well. “Jim” sounds good but its a standard performance and leads into a “Wilson > Uncle Pen” pairing that is in the same slot as it was in Rochester. There are a lot of Secret Language signals in this “Wilson.” The set opens up with “Tweezer,” and the jam of this one is cooking by 6:00, settling into a nice groove that the band then directs through a tense sequence before a good peak at the end. It’s not a very experimental performance of this song but it’s a solid jam nonetheless, and we get to hear the “composed” ending of the song for the first time in a while as well. “Tweezer” then segues into what might be the best performance of “The Lizards” of the tour so far due to its intense peak. Not a bad pair of songs to anchor the middle of the set.
“Llama” is “Llama” and serves as an interlude before Phish drops into the ever-dependable “You Enjoy Myself,” which is showing up for the second night in a row. I like the comping from Trey and Mike during Page’s solo from 10:00-10:45; lots of booms and slides from Mike that Page responds to with keyboard washes. Trey’s solo is interesting too; he goes into a “plinko”-esque jam around 12:15. On top of all that, the bass-and-drums segment is of significant length tonight and the vocal jam goes into a full-on “Lion Sleeps Tonight” refrain. This is a great “YEM,” even for the time, and much better than last night’s.
A “Big Ball Jam” leads us into the Henrietta segment, which has lots of banter from Fish tonight. Something about being arrested for laying naked on a plank (an act that is apparently the subject of “Lengthwise”). He promises a vacuum solo if the crowd agrees to sing-along to the song. After the solo he humorously apologizes for “losing the beat.” A duo of closers ends the set, “The Squirming Coil” and “Cavern,” neither of which I have much to comment on. A standard-for-the-tour encore of “Amazing Grace” and “Tweezer Reprise” closes the show. I went back and forth between a 3 and 4 for this show because on one hand, they play it very safe for the most part. They drop a number of their big songs at the time; “David Bowie,” “Stash,” “Tweezer,” and “You Enjoy Myself,” but for the most part don’t attempt to explore new ground. However, everything is well played and entertaining in the moment and both sets have a good flow. While it’s not too adventurous, the “Tweezer > The Lizards” segment is a great distillation of Phish’s sound at the time and the “YEM” is one of the best of the tour. So I’ll go ahead and give this a four for some legitimate highlights, good flow, and little to complain about.
Tomorrow is our second night off of tour, so I’ll talk to you again on the 15th…
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: “Tweezer > The Lizards,” “You Enjoy Myself”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 62 mins.
- Second set length: 97 mins.
- This was the first time Phish performed at the Bob Carpenter Center. The band returns on 4/18/94.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Lengthwise,” returning after a six show absence (2/6/93).
- The best represented studio album is A Picture of Nectar (7 songs).