Show #70 of Winter/Spring ’93 brings us just a couple hours north from where show #1 was played. At a capacity of 3200 the Bangor Auditorium is one of the larger venues Phish plays on this tour. Most venues the band played on this tour have been either one-off venues (only visited on this tour) or never visited again by the band after this tour. The band will return to Bangor Auditorium, however, for the first show following the 1994 Halloween ‘musical costume’. The common opening pairing of “Buried Alive” and “Poor Heart” opens this show. The band’s playing sounds good from the beginning of this show.
Next is “Split Open and Melt,” making its second appearance in as many nights. Tonight’s performance is shorter than last night’s but is wilder and better executed. The jam starts at 4:15 with a heavy-metal Trey riff. This works into a good, repeating Trey riff. Shortly after 6:00 both Trey and Mike begin to push in different directions at almost the same time. The result is a partial breaking with the “Melt” song structure and a couple minutes of the signature, psychedelic intensity that this song can bring. It takes about 30 seconds for the band to coalesce again but once they do the rest of the jam is excellent. They start to settle back into the “Split” groove around 7:40 but there’s more exciting tension/release runs before the end of the song shortly after 9:00. Again, this one is a little on the shorter side, but the band covers a lot of ground quickly. This “Split” is definitely up there with the other great “Splits” from the last couple weeks.
I like the placement of “Sparkle” tonight, for it works as a nice transition between the intensity of “Melt” and the following “Caravan.” As usual, “Caravan” is fun to hear. Page has his best moment of the night so far with his solo, and the band throws in a very brief “Manteca” tease at 3:45. (I wonder why the band decided this week was the time for “Manteca” jams? ) “The Lizards” kicks off a more composition-orientated back half of the set. The song is well-played and a treat to hear in the first set (“Lizards” have more commonly lurked in the second set this tour). “Horn” keeps to its “once every 10-to-12” day rotation, which is a long enough gap to keep the song sounding fresh each time they play it. “Divided Sky” also is a quality performance tonight. The song has a solid 30 second pause and crowd cheer that feels more significant than any other pause that occurred this tour. Did I just listen to the first real “Sky” pause? I’m curious to see where that crowd/band interaction goes from here.
“I Didn’t Know” takes its usual penultimate spot before the set-closing “Run Like an Antelope.” “Antelope” has a little extra jamming during the intro tonight, before Trey starts the jam proper with catchy riffing at 3:00. From there the song goes through a standard but good build highlighted by intense fretwork from Trey. “Melt” is the easy highlight of this short first-set, but the back half of the set is still enjoyable thanks to good performances of classic songs.
Set 2 opens with a solid “Rift” before “Bouncing Around the Room” makes an appearance. “Bouncing” feels a little odd in this slot; it often feels like a breather song and we’re only six minutes into set 2, which feels early for a breather. “Maze” is next and brings the energy level up. Page takes an unusually good and extended solo tonight that builds to a fierce peak. He doesn’t hand off to Trey until 6:30. Trey’s solo, by contrast, feels fairly standard. Page wins the “Maze” duel tonight. “Fee” is nice to hear, having not been played in a week, and works well in the setlist following the intensity of “Maze.” “Big Ball Jam” brings us to the first “You Enjoy Myself” since the huge Albany performance.
Page’s solo begins at 8:00 of “YEM,” and in comparison to his “Maze” solo it sounds fairly standard. Trey takes over at 10:40 and his segment also feels like a typical “YEM” solo until 12:45 at which point Trey and Mike lock onto a carnival-esque sound. The band starts to break the jam down and Trey takes a jazzy solo at 13:30 that is clean and melodic. From there the band breaks the jam down into almost nothing before building back up around a heavy-metal Trey riff. This develops into bluesy riffing at 15:30 that quickly picks up in tempo. Trey starts to drift off and scratch his guitar as they slowly transition into a funky drum and bass segment. The vocal jam starts at 18:40. I wouldn’t put this “YEM” in the top tier from this tour as a good portion of it is standard fare, but the few minutes during Trey’s solo where the band breaks the jam down and quickly moves through a few distinct passages does add some improvisational excitement to this performance.
“The Great Gig in the Sky” emerges from the “YEM” vocal jam and serves as the Henrietta segment of the evening. Phish treats the Maine crowd to”Harry Hood” tonight, which makes one of its irregular appearances tonight and is the highlight of the evening. The jam begins at 5:10 and the first couple minutes are calm and peaceful. Trey steps on the gas at 7:00, quickly kicking up the intensity of the jam a few notches. He goes through some great runs before starting to bring the song to a peak at 8:35. Trey holds a note for a good 30 seconds before a thrilling set of ‘machine-gun’ runs brings this “Hood” to a truly euphoric peak, culminating in a blissful melody from 10:30-10:50 before the band brings the song to a close. Another excellent 1993 “Hood” that will bring a smile to the face of any Phish fan.
The band just keeps rolling with another crowd-favorite: “Harpua.” Trey remarks that the band has “just finished a big national tour.” Tonight’s narration begins with Trey describing one “Ravishing Rick Rude,” a Maine resident and lumberjack that has a dog named Harpua. The two characters share a growing hatred of the ever-growing and constantly encroaching suburbs. The narration becomes more standard as Trey begins describing Jimmy and his cat Poster Nutbag, residents of said suburbia. When Jimmy turns on his record player Trey begins playing Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads” for about 20 seconds. After the tease Trey tells the audience that it’s “obvious you’ve never heard that song,” before instructing them that “you all should.” Harpua kills Poster not long after. “Highway to Hell” makes for a perfect closer after “Harpua” as the band exits the stage with tongue firmly in cheek.
Before the first encore, “Amazing Grace,” Trey introduces his dog Marley to the audience. “Golgi Apparatus” sends the crowd home for the evening. I’m giving tonight’s show a 3 because I feel it doesn’t quite hit as many of the highs that this last week or so has been filled with, and because good chunks of the show feel fairly standard for the tour (particularly the back half of set 1 and the beginning of set 2). That said, the end of set 2 almost pushed this back up to a 4 for me because “Harry Hood” is once again excellent and worth hearing and “Harpua” is very entertaining. “YEM” is good as well and has a few minutes of interesting and unusual improvisation. Regarding the first set, “Split Open and Melt” has a great, tight jam that serves as a good example of where the song is at, and “Caravan” has some good solos and a “Manteca” tease. The list of highlights runs long, so a 3 might seem harsh, but this show is up against some stiff competition at the end of this tour. On it’s own it’s certainly a good and enjoyable Phish show.
- Show rating: 3/5
- Highlights: “Split Open and Melt,” “You Enjoy Myself,” “Harry Hood,” “Harpua”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 67 mins.
- Second set length: 93 mins.
- This is the first time Phish performed at the Bangor Auditorium. They will return on 11/02/94.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Harpua,” returning after an eighteen show absence (4/14/93).
- The best represented studio albums are Rift and Junta (4 songs).