Welcome back to tour after our first multiple-day break! Today we’re kicking off month 2 of Winter/Spring ’93 and begin our trek west. According to Phish.net this show was performed on “the final night of New Orleans’ annual Mardi Gras celebration.” Normally after a couple nights off I count on the band sounding well-rested, but depending on how hard they partied in New Orleans for Mardi Gras that may or may not be the case here. A well-played and snappy pairing of “Buried Alive > Poor Heart” kicks off the festivities before an early “Stash.” There’s some good riffing from Trey during the jam and a solid peak but nothing out of the ordinary for a “Stash” jam. This “Stash” is less adventurous than many of the recent outings. The band barely stops to catch a breath before starting up another heavyweight: “Reba.” The jam is going by 6:20 and is peaking by 8:45. Trey drives this peak forward on and on, as he does in many great “Rebas,” delivering several minutes of high-quality soloing. At one point you can tell the rest of the band is ready to cut off the jam (shortly after 11:00) but Trey just says “nah” with his playing and blows past them before finally bringing it to a close at 11:30. The whistling segment is a bit sloppy tonight but it’s nothing to complain about after such a fun “Reba.” Definitely an early highlight of the night.
“Sparkle” and “It’s Ice” both sound fine and keep up the show’s momentum through the middle of the set. “Fee,” which has been popping up quite a bit lately, provides a mid-set breath of air. “Chalk Dust” sounds like its typical ripping self. I wouldn’t say Trey is having a notably great night, but he certainly doesn’t sound off either and has delivered a number of good solos so far this set, including in “Chalk Dust.” “The Horse” and “Silent in the Morning” make their first appearances in well over a week before a familiar pair of set closers, “I Didn’t Know” and “David Bowie.” “I Didn’t Know” once again features Fishman on a washboard, reprising a similar gag that occurred a week or two ago. Trey asks the crowd if “everyone is still hungover from last night,” perhaps giving us some clue to how the band spent their time off. The “Bowie” intro is quick tonight, ending at 0:50, and the jam begins at 4:50. For a solid 30 seconds or so around 6:00 Trey plays something that sounds very similar to the “Stash” melody. From there it’s a fairly standard “Bowie” progression of a build-up to a peak that drops into the composed ending. Nevertheless, like “Stash” and “Reba,” the band sounds good and the jam is fun if not outside-the-box. Overall this is a solid set with a lot of well-played versions of some of the band’s most exciting songs at the time (“Stash,” “Bowie,” “Reba”). There are a few minor flubs but nothing that detracted from my enjoyment of the music. The “Reba” in particular is my favorite moment of the set.
Set 2 opens with a good sounding “My Friend, My Friend” and “Uncle Pen” before we go to the races with “Tweezer.” The “Tweezer” jam starts at 4:20 and by 6:15 Trey has latched onto a melodic chord progression that he sticks with for several groovy minutes. This doesn’t lead to a peak and instead the song kind of just collapses around this progression for a couple of unusual and more subtle minutes. This breakdown leads to a transition into “Lizards.” I really liked this “Tweezer” though I wish they had pushed at it further since there were some good ideas here that I would have liked to hear them muse over longer. There are some minor timing issues at 4:15 in Lizards that they quickly overcome, though the band drops out almost completely around 7:50 leaving Fishman playing solo. This sounds weird (and not a good ‘weird’). Definitely not the best ever performance of this song.
The band manages to successfully pull themselves together for the following “Llama,” which sounds decent. We drop into “You Enjoy Myself” from there. I don’t think the ‘bliss’ segment of this “YEM” is unusually long but I do like the two-note melody Page repeats throughout. Page’s keyboard solo starts at 7:50 and is noticeably subdued and funky tonight. It’s decently stretched out as well, with Trey slowly taking the reigns at 11:30. Trey’s segment starts out similarly subdued but builds at a nice, languid pace to a more deliberate peak than Page’s. The peak really hits with a satisfying drop around 14:20. The bass and drums segment isn’t very long or exciting tonight and the vocal jam begins by 17:20. It ends in an entertaining fashion with wild, animal noises. This is a nice return to form for “YEM” after a couple of slightly underwhelming performances. Each segment feels nice and stretched out and everyone (except Mike) takes advantage of the extra room to move about. Maybe the highlight of the night for me.
Henrietta’s segment includes “Love You” tonight and is devoid of any notable banter. It also sounds quite sloppy (more so than usual). After this we enter into what amounts to a half-hour mini-set with guest Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes on washboard, harp, and vocals. They debut three songs that will never again return to the Phish stage: “It’s All Right,” “Loup Garou,” and “Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie.” As much as I like “Jesus Just Left Chicago” I have never felt that Phish pulls off a very authentic blues sound, and these songs don’t do much to change that opinion. Nevertheless, there’s nothing outright bad about this segment either. After this sit-in the set just keeps rolling on; the second set and encore combine to make up almost two full hours. We end with “Harry Hood,” and like other songs from this show, the build-up during this “Hood’s” jam is nice and patient and the peak features some of the most shredding lines from Trey of the entire night. It’s a nice cherry on top of a show that has featured lots of sweets. The “Amazing Grace” that actually ended the set is absent on my tape, and the night ends with a “Golgi > Tweezer Reprise” encore.
This is a long show, mostly because of the second set, so I wouldn’t listen to it in one (or even two) sittings. While there’s not much that is way outside the box tonight, there are solid renditions of “Stash,” “Reba,” and “Harry Hood,” and a “Tweezer” and a “You Enjoy Myself” that I would definitely rate as better than average for the tour. That’s a lot of goodness for one night, so this is definitely a show that is worth hearing.
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: “Reba,” “Tweezer,” “You Enjoy Myself,” “Harry Hood”
- Phish.net setlist
- Debuts: “It’s All Right” (Bruce Sunpie Barnes and the Lousiana Sunspots), “Loup Garou” (Bruce Sunpie Barnes and the Lousiana Sunspots), “Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie” (Louis Jordan)
- First set length: 77 mins.
- Second set length: ~117 mins.
- This is the fourth time Phish performed at Tipitina’s. They will return tomorrow night.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “The Horse,” “Silent in the Morning,” and “Harry Hood,” all returning after a seven show absence (2/20/93).
- The best represented studio albums are Rift and A Picture of Nectar (6 songs).