June 12, 2015

Phish: Amsterdam

The three shows that Phish performed in 1997 at the Paradiso in Amsterdam are highly rated among the Vermont jam band fan base. Extensive jamming, the debut of Carini and the on the spot creation of the Worm Town Jam are among the many highlights. The new 8CD box set Amsterdam contains all three shows (February 17 and July -1-2) in full in superb soundboard quality.

February 17, 1997

When Phish entered the stage for their show at the Paradiso on February 1997 they hit the ground running with a four part segue: Marley's Soul Shakedown Party followed a flawless rendition of the challenging Divided Sky, crowd participation favorite Wilson and the Clifton Chenier Zydeco classic My Soul. It felt like they needed to make amends for their disastrous show at the Melkweg in Amsterdam the year before, a gig that was only memorable for its excessive use of weed by both the band and the audience.

This night they were on point with tight versions of Billy Breathes and Bathtub Gin in the first set, but it's the second set where the band throw away the rules book and go in at the deep end with a non-stop batch of songs, including an inspired Down With Disease leading into the debut of Carini, a twenty minutes monster claiming a prominent place on the short list of definitive versions of the song. They kept the encore short and sweet with a pairing of Sleeping Monkey and Rocky Top. This time the band owned Amsterdam and not the other way around.

When Phish came back for another European tour in the Summer the S.F.X. Centre in Dublin and the Paradiso were the only venues to be awarded a two-night stand.

July 1, 1997

Mention this show and people start raving about the Ghost opener. First played on the opening night of the European Summer tour in Dublin the song had evolved rapidly, the band using it as a canvas for ambient interplay. Guitarist Trey Anastasio and keyboardist Page McConnell hit it off and there's a bit of "worm banter" ("I think you know where you are! You're on the back of the worm!") that would be expanded on night two. Phish had played two short one set festival shows before coming to Amsterdam and they were ready for some jamming expeditions, without worrying about time slots. Especially Reba is delivered with unbridled gusto.

The songs in Set 2 are sucked into to black hole of the Talking Heads cover Cities, a showcase for the minimalistic skills of drummer Jon Fishman and Mike Gordon's laid back bass motifs. They played in slow motion, foreshadowing the relaxed cow funk that would blossom during the 1997 Fall tour. The "worm" gets another mention. Obviously the mellow mood suited them and they followed suit with another cover, the Stones classis Loving Cup (far superior to the Big Went version that made it into the Bittersweet Motel documentary), before ending the set with Slave To The Traffic Light. Encore When he Circus Comes sounds a bit tired - the night's foray into experimentation could not be translated to the Los Lobos track, although they tried.

July 2, 1997

The final night of Phish in Amsterdam is mostly remembered for the epic Stash and the Worm Town Jam in the second set that had been hinted at the previous night. Killer worms inhabiting the canals? Sure. Don't try this at home, kids. The first set however is no slough either, with the Gordon double whammy opener Mike's Song > Simple, even more Mike in the bluegrass cover Ginseng Sullivan, and another taste of cow funk during the lengthy intro for Weekapaug Groove (the vocals finally kick in shortly after the 12 minutes mark). The highlight is the spiralling journey through Maze.

The second set was rather short - the major Stash workout and a super fast Llama had taken their toll, but they made up with the nearly half an hour encore Free > David Bowie.

Amsterdam is a document of a band at the peak of their game. Away from the expectations of the huge crowds in the States, playing smaller venues in Europe must have felt like a return to the early Nineties when they played in theaters for attentive audiences who were willing to be surprised and to share the on-stage experiences of four musicians playing flawless composed sections, short breather songs and jamming out like there is no tomorrow.

The box set will be in stores on June 16 via JEMP records. Pre-order from Dry Goods.

Disc 1
1. Soul Shakedown Party > (4:49)
2. Divided Sky (13:32)
3. Wilson > (4:44)
4. My Soul (5:13)
5. Guyute (10:13)
6. Timber (Jerry) > (7:05)
7. Billy Breathes (6:56)
8. Llama (4:02)
9. Bathtub Gin > (13:03)
10. Golgi Apparatus (4:57)

Disc 2
1. The Squirming Coil > (10:17)
2. Down With Disease > (18:18)
3. Carini > (21:26)
4. Taste > (6:34)
5. Down With Disease > (1:24)
6. Suzy Greenberg > (6:19)
7. Prince Caspian (8:17))

Disc 3
1. Sleeping Monkey > (5:56)
2. Rocky Top (3:01)
3. Ghost (22:26)
4. Horn (4:06)
5. Ya Mar (10:00))

Disc 4
1. Limb By Limb > (12:43)
2. Ain’t Love Funny (4:44)
3. Saw It Again (7:08)
4. Dirt (4:29)
5. Reba (17:21)
6. Dogs Stole Things (5:25))

Disc 5
1. Fish Keyboard Jam > (3:18)
2. Timber (Jerry) > (8:16)
3. Bathtub Gin > (14:32)
4. Cities (24:37)
5. Loving Cup > (6:07)
6. Slave To The Traffic Light (12:29)
7. When The Circus Comes (5:27))

Disc 6
1. Mike’s Song > (10:15)
2. Simple > (12:03)
3. Maze (13:49)
4. Strange Design (3:21)
5. Ginseng Sullivan (3:25)
6. Vultures (6:18)
7. Water In The Sky > (2:47)
8. Weekapaug Groove (13:39))

Disc 7
1. Stash > (30:47)
2. Llama > (5:39)
3. Wormtown Jam > (7:15)
4. Wading In The Velvet Sea (8:15))

Disc 8
1. Free (12:45)
2. David Bowie (16:11)

Their 2015 Summer tour kicks off with a two-night stand in Bend, OR.

Live dates:
  • 07/21 Les Schwab Amphitheater, Bend, OR
  • 07/22 Les Schwab Amphitheater, Bend, OR
  • 07/24 Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA
  • 07/25 The Forum, Los Angeles, CA
  • 07/28 Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, TX
  • 07/29 Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie, Grand Prairie, TX
  • 07/31 Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood, Atlanta, GA
  • 08/01 Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood, Atlanta, GA
  • 08/02 Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, Tuscaloosa, AL
  • 08/04 Riverfront Park Amphitheater, Nashville, TN
  • 08/05 Starlight Theatre, Kansas City, MO
  • 08/07 Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
  • 08/08 Alpine Valley Music Center, East Troy, WI
  • 08/09 Alpine Valley Music Center, East Troy, WI
  • 08/11 The Mann, Philadelphia, PA
  • 08/12 The Mann, Philadelphia, PA
  • 08/14 Walnut Creek Amphitheater, Raleigh, NC
  • 08/15 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
  • 08/16 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
  • 08/21 Magnaball at Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, NY
  • 08/22 Magnaball at Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, NY
  • 08/23 Magnaball at Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, NY
  • 09/04 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
  • 09/05 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
  • 09/06 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO

» phish.com

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