Another night at the Michigan Theater, another soundboard recording to go along with it. We start the evening off with a solid, but not perfect, “Rift.” A competent “Guelah Papyrus” is next, followed by “Split Open and Melt.” The “Melt” jam starts at 4:15. I like Trey’s playing during this one, particularly his riffing at the beginning of the jam and his ‘machine-gun’ style of soloing, both at 6:20 and later at 8:00, after it sounds like the band has returned to the composed ending. It’s a short jam and it follows the standard structure, but there’s some good playing from Trey and the band overall sounds a bit livelier and tighter than in the first two songs.
A quick “Sparkle” bridges us to the first-set centerpiece, “Divided Sky.” This is a fine outing of the song, and it holds this slot in the setlist well. A pairing of “Fee > Maze” follows. The band blends the outro of “Fee” over the intro to “Maze,” which is a cool effect. Neither solo in “Maze” particularly blew me away, but Trey’s built to a stronger peak so I give him the nod tonight in the “Maze” duel. Due to some technical issue we cut right into the first verse of “Horn” without hearing the intro. I always enjoy this one, partly due to the infrequency of its appearances.
“I Didn’t Know” takes its usual spot as penultimate song of the first set. Tonight’s is super-extended and very amusing. Right after the a capella intro of the song Page takes the microphone and says hi to the audience. He proceeds to bring audience members on stage to share their thoughts on last night’s ridiculous encore (which included about a 6 minute pause during “Big Black Furry Creatures from Mars”). The first person says, “I thought you were fucked up.” Another person confesses to “tripping” during the show and thinking it was awesome. One woman exclaims every excitedly that “this is my first Phish show, and I’m really, really happy!” Don’t worry lady, we’ve all been there. Trey is finally forced to explain what happened and he admits that he thought it was Mike’s turn to begin the song, and when he realized what had happened he felt “really, really stupid.” Page thanks the audience for participating in “tonight’s ‘how was last night’s encore’ portion of the show!” Altogether it’s a very amusing, almost 7 minute aside that’s thankfully quite listenable thanks to the soundboard.
“Cavern” quickly closes out a concise first set after the “I Didn’t Know” shenanigans. Besides for the banter at the end, this is a rather average first set of the tour. “Split Open” and “Divided Sky” are probably the highlights, but they’re not particularly exceptional performances. Hopefully the band will dig a bit deeper in the second set.
“Poor Heart” opens set 2, an unusual spot for the song. “Tweezer” follows. The “Tweezer” jam is underway at 4:25 and begins with funky riffing from Trey. The jam builds a bit, takes a dissonant turn at 7:40, and transitions to the composed ending at 10:00. It’s an enjoyable performance but nothing special. “The Horse > Silent in the Morning” provides an early-set breather. The “Horse” intro is slightly extended as Trey improvises on his acoustic guitar. “Possum” is next and the most exciting song of the set so far. Trey’s solo is initially quiet but has a dark tone. After a couple minutes of simmering the solo starts to boil over at 5:00 and builds to a strong peak at 8:00. It’s a dynamic “Possum” that showcases some great playing from Trey.
“Mound” and “Big Ball Jam” bring us to a highly unusual, but very fun Mike’s Groove. The “Mike’s” jam begins at 2:35 and Trey joins in quickly with fast trilling. This quickly builds to a solid first peak before the end chords start at 4:40. However, instead of transitioning into the usual “Simple”-esque, F-key jam the band instead transitions back into a groove similar to the first jam. This becomes increasingly melodic and major-key, atypical for “Mike’s Song,” before morphing into a full-on “Low Rider” jam by 7:00. This segment is very smooth, very funky, and not too over-the-top. After about a minute of this the jam seamlessly segues into “Ya Mar,” instead of “Hydrogen” or “Weekapaug.” Like the “Low Rider” jam, this segue is smooth.
“Ya Mar” is largely by-the-books, but it does feature decent solos from both Page and Trey. After a full stop the band begins the first “Walk Away” of the month. I’m personally a big fan of this song; I think it injects a lot of energy into a show. As much as I like the song though, the band has been playing it conservatively on this tour. This one clocks in at exactly 4:00. Despite the lack of a big solo it’s still fun to hear. Instead of “Weekapaug” this Mike’s Groove remains unfinished as the Henrietta segment begins. There’s not much banter tonight, just a long vacuum solo. A quick “Tweezer Reprise” closes a concise second set. “Amazing Grace” is unfortunately absent from the recording I’m using, so a fun “Rocky Top” is the only encore song I heard tonight.
No doubt there’s some good moments tonight, and the “Mike’s Song > Ya Mar” is an excellent segment with shades of the funk sound they will develop in the years to come. As a whole though, most of the performances here are par for the course for the tour, and I don’t think this show rises to the level of some of the other great shows of this tour. The band’s playing sounds good though, and combined with the soundboard recording this show is not a bad top-to-bottom listen.
The Winter/Spring ’93 tour now starts to move out of the midwest and in a decidedly eastward direction, as we head back towards the northeast where this whole affair got started over two months ago. After a night off, I’ll talk to you again on 4/20 as we start a multi-night run in Ohio.
- Show rating: 3/5
- Highlights: “I Didn’t Know,” “Mike’s Song -> Ya Mar”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 70 mins.
- Second set length: 77 mins.
- This is the third and last time Phish performed at the Michigan Theater. Trey Anastasio band performs here on 5/3/99 and 10/21/06, while Mike Gordon performs here on 10/23/05.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Walk Away,” returning after a fourteen show absence (3/28/93).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (7 songs).