Show #51 of Winter/Spring ’93 brings us to Kansas, for one night only. Despite only visiting the state briefly now, we’ll be back at this very venue in August. The band sounds tight tonight from the first song, a fun “Suzy Greenberg” opener. A very dynamic “Foam” follows. The backing band gets nice and quiet during both Page and Trey’s solos, which sound a little extended tonight. It’s a strong performance of the song. Well-played performances of “Sparkle” and “Possum” round out the first third of the set.
The second segment of the set is a twenty minute “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird.” The narration begins with Trey telling the audience that a truck driver is dragging the venue along west towards the Rocky Mountains. They are about to become the first building to ever be driven off of a ski jump (Page appropriately adds a tease of Van Halen’s “Jump” here). This leads to the venue floating through space (of course, how else could this have gone?) and the audience members exiting the venue one by one. They float towards a distant plane of existence and land in Gamehendge. At this point Trey rushes through the rest of the standard “Forbin’s” story, introducing Icculus and explaining the importance of the book. At one point he remarks “I”m sure you’re following all of this.” It’s not my favorite narration of the tour but it’s definitely entertaining and adds some imagination to the middle of this set. Trey sounds quite good during “Mockingbird” tonight, which to my ears sounds like a technically demanding song.
“Chalk Dust Torture” kicks up the energy after “Mockingbird” before “Guelah Papyrus” makes a surprise appearance at the end of the set instead of the #2 position. It works here as a nice breather before the return appearance of tour bust-out “Caravan.” Once again I like the jam during the middle of the song, which works into a fun “Manteca” tease shortly after 4:00. “Cavern” closes the set. I thoroughly enjoyed this first half of the show. Like last night, there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking in the band’s playing. That being said, everything is well played and there’s a lot of fun to be had between the narration and the return of “Caravan” for a second appearance this tour.
Set 2 opens with a string of five songs on the shorter side of things. “My Friend, My Friend” begins the set and lacks the long, extended outro that many versions recently had. We move from “My Friend” to competent performances of “Rift,” “The Sloth,” and “Uncle Pen.” The first “Fast Enough for You” of the month provides a nice change in pace after these four faster songs. A quick “Big Ball Jam” leads into the only real centerpiece of the set, a mid-set Mike’s Groove.
First, a quick note: my recording tonight has “Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove” as one track, so my references to track time will reflect that. The “Mike’s Song” jam is underway at 2:27. The first jam is good but also relatively standard and quick; it ends shortly after 5:00. A “Simple”-esque second jam starts at 5:25. Fishman changes up the beat here in favor of a simpler, more straightforward rhythm. Trey follows by modulating into more major-key territory, and the band enters into an almost-blissful passage. Trey introduces some dissonance around 6:15 but the segment remains unique and in type-II-ish territory. Phish.net notes that there’s a “Dave’s Energy Guide” tease in this “Mike’s Song,” so that may be part of what’s going on here. They break back towards the “Mike’s” progression at 7:40, quickly wrap up the jam, and head into the end chords at 8:15. This is another good, interesting “Mike’s Song” highlighted by the second jam.
Trey struggles a little during this “Hydrogen” before “Weekapaug” starts up at 12:10. The jam starts at 13:35 with strong riffing from Trey. He starts soloing and brings the jam to a peak at 15:30. The rest of the jam until 18:00 is basically one big peak from Trey, with lots of great playing from him (particularly his runs right before the end of the jam). It’s far from the most experimental or adventurous “Weekapaug” of tour but it’s a nice cap to this sequence of music. After the return to the “Weekapaug” chord progression there’s a silent jam from 18:45-19:30. The band builds back up from this silent jam into the end of “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” to end the song. This is a solid Mike’s Groove that is the clear highlight of this set.
The Henrietta sequence immediately follows the Mike’s Groove and features Fishman bantering about…failing to obtain a class D license? Something like that. The set closes with “Squirming Coil.” “Bold as Love” returns for the first time since February as the first encore song before an a capella “Sweet Adeline” ends the show. Like last night there are some fun moments throughout this show, and also like last night, I think the first set might be the stronger half. The narration during “Forbin’s,” the return of “Caravan,” the added dynamism of “Foam,” and overall good playing makes for an entertaining first set. The second set, however, failed to excite me much, with the strong but not particularly deep Mike’s Groove being the only centerpiece. Hopefully, with a lot of big tunes due for a showing tomorrow night (“Stash,” “Tweezer,” “YEM,” “David Bowie”), we’ll hear the band dig a little deeper in Missouri.
- Show rating: 3/5
- Highlights: “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird,” “Caravan,” “Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 71 mins.
- Second set length: 74 mins.
- This is the first and last time Phish performed at the Memorial Hall. They will return on 8/17/93.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Bold as Love,” returning after a thirty-one show absence (2/26/93).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (4 songs).