Tonight’s show is Winter/Spring 93’s last stop in Canada. Phish last played at Le Spectrum just a few months ago in December. There’s a good sounding recording of the soundcheck jam in circulation, and it’s quite fun to listen to. We have not heard very often this tour the band just sitting back and jamming for sixteen minutes straight, and that’s exactly what they do here. The jam immediately settles into a reggae groove with Page soloing on organ. He switches to his baby grand for some impressive lines at 2:30. Trey starts to take over around 4:00, though Mike increasingly takes on a melodic role and echoes Trey’s playing. Fish takes a drum solo at 7:00. Trey comes back in about a minute later with chunky, blues riffing. The rest of the jam is based around this blues feel, and features more soloing from Trey, Mike, and Page. There’s nothing too exploratory here, but it’s fun to hear the band play with such a laid-back feeling, something that is quite unusual to hear on this tour.
Perhaps emboldened by the improvisational soundcheck, the band jumps right into the deep end with a show-opening “Split Open and Melt,” a song undergoing a renaissance and new approach from the band. The jam starts at 4:10, and once again the band quickly latches on to a dissonant Trey riff to stretch the song’s structure. Treys starts to break from this passage around 6:00 while refraining from taking a traditional solo. The rest of the band inches back towards the “Split” progression. The song takes a final dissonant lurch at 8:30 before wrapping up. This is another great “Melt” that builds up an intense, dissonant jam, similar to the last couple performances of the song.
“Uncle Pen” carries the momentum well after the strong opener. “The Sloth” follows and is well-played and high-energy, despite not being played frequently. This uptempo, energetic feeling continues with a mid-set “Runaway Jim,” which is capped with impressive guitar heroics from Trey at 6:00-7:45. Personal favorite “Horn” is next and, along with “Sloth,” helps keep this setlist feeling fresh. It provides a welcome moment of contemplation before the set picks back up with a typically-ripping “Llama.” The set continues along at a brisk pace with good renditions of “Glide,” “Rift,” and “Fee.”
The first set ends with a good “Run Like an Antelope.” The jam is nice and long, and while not touching on any unusual territory, the jam brings the set to a rocking and high-energy close. I thought this was definitely a better than average first set. The opening and closing songs both contain substantial jams, and the middle of the set is filled with a fresh, concise setlist with tight, high-energy playing. All in all, a very satisfying show so far.
Set 2 opens with a rocking “Chalk Dust Torture” that has some interesting string-scratching effects from Trey in between the song’s verses. A standard but well-played “It’s Ice” follows “Chalk Dust” and lands in “Ya Mar.” Like “AC/DC Bag,” “Ya Mar” seems to be (slowly) returning to a somewhat regular rotation. Trey screams “Play it Leo!” early, so follows up by screaming “Don’t play, Leo! LEO!” It’s an amusing mistake-turned-gag. The crowd gets into it, and the band responds by stretching out the “Ya Mar” solo section longer than they have so far on this tour. The “Ya Mar” jam, while only a couple minutes long, recalls the mellow vibe of the soundcheck jam. Trey has a run of very tight, jazzy soloing at 6:15 that is brief but very good. The jam slowly peters out as Fishman starts up “Mound.” “Big Ball Jam” takes its usual position following “Mound.”
“Reba” kicks off the more substantive portion of the set, and oof, it’s a messy one tonight. There are some issues with the song’s composition around 2:10, and Trey goes badly out of tune shortly thereafter. The tuning issue is very noticeable and not good (I can empathize herewith Trey here, there’s nothing more frustrating than your guitar doing something unexpected mid-performance). His problems persist through the beginning of the jam at 5:55. Trey sits out for a minute here, presumably to work on his sound issue. Once Trey’s back in, Fishman starts to alter his beat in unusual ways, including adding a volley of snare hits around 7:45. The jam follows the standard course from there, and ends with a solid but not amazing or particularly blissful peak. “Reba” ends with more compositional issues during the outro. I have to call a spade a spade: this might be the worst-sounding”Reba” of tour so far.
Mike’s Groove is next, providing an opportunity for some mid-set redemption. The “Mike’s Song” jam starts at 2:30. The first jam is standard and quickly builds to a peak before the end chords come in around 4:45. The second jam, however, is atypical. It opens up almost immediately with melodic, airy playing from Trey that is vaguely reminiscent of “Simple” in parts. This leads into blissful trilling from Trey that brings on the glorious peak “Reba” failed to fully deliver. The band shifts back into the key of “Mike’s Song” and the first jam at 7:30, and after some great wailing from Trey, the final set of end chords at 8:30.
“I Am Hydrogen” is notable tonight, surprisingly, for a lengthy tease that I can’t identify from 0:45-1:45 that effectively creates a mini-jam within “Hydrogen.” The “Weekapaug Groove” jam gets underway at 1:20 of that song, and starts with good, cheery soloing from Trey. The band breaks down the song’s rhythm at 3:00 and Page takes the lead with his soloing. A full-on type-II jam develops (or elaborate tease that I’m again not familiar with) that segues seamlessly into a huge bust-out of “Makisupa Policeman,” last seen in 1990! After the “Makisupa” verse the band enters into an unusually ambient/spacey jam from 1:10-2:00 of the “Makisupa” track. The tempo starts to pick up with choppy chords from Trey, and the band segues seamlessly back into the “Weekapaug” jam. Trey immediately takes charge and enters into a passage of blissful soloing shortly after 1:00. There’s great riffing and full-band interplay here before the band embraces the “Weekapaug” progression fully at 3:50. After a final round of terrific soloing from Trey, the band wraps up an excellent Mike’s Groove by heading into the end of “Weekapaug.”
The Henrietta segment is next. Fishman asks if “all my friends from Burlington” are here, and the crowd cheers. Fish responds, “okay, everybody!” “The Squirming Coil” closes the set and features a long, very enjoyable outro solo from Page. Unfortunately, tonight’s encore (“My Friend, My Friend,” “Sweet Adeline”) is absent from circulation. It’s a shame, because I don’t think they have played “My Friend” in the encore slot, so that would have been interesting to hear.
I almost gave this show a 5, and I think I would have had the “Reba” in the middle of set 2 been more impressive. That being said, this is an excellent top-to-bottom show with great playing from the show-opening “Melt” to the monster set-2 Mike’s Groove. The band sounds a little looser than normal, from the long soundcheck jam to the second set “Ya Mar” and the huge bust-out of “Makisupa Policeman.” After a somewhat pedestrian second set in Toronto, the band is back on track with another awesome late-April show. Just try and forget the “Reba.”
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: Soundcheck jam, “Split Open and Melt,” “Run Like an Antelope,” “Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove > Makisupa Policeman > Weekapaug Groove”
- Phish.net setlist
- Soundcheck length: 16 mins.
- First set length: 64 mins.
- Second set length: ~92 mins.
- This is the second and last time Phish performed at Le Spectrum. They last performed here on 12/13/92.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Makisupa Policeman,” returning after a three hundred and twenty-two show absence (11/26/90).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (5 songs).