Take for instance when the tour was really heating up and Phish landed in The Palace of Auburn Hills in what is known as the greater Detroit Area. With a 24 date Fall Tour billed as "Phish Destroys America"- they brought fire to every show with with ear shredding guitar rifts sliced between overlays of
the infamous infancy of 98's Cow-Funk. Phish, after spending the better part of the year on two European tours, with an epic American Summer tour and The Great Went Festival in-between, the Fall was when the new songs that would in a years time be released as The Story of The Ghost, Auburn Hills- a year to the day after their Vegas-Claypool-Harpua-Elvis show, this becomes a perfect snapshot of how much power and attention was put into each and every song played. Detail was mashed with creative looseness that allowed a space for Phish to embrace their then newly found position at the top of the so called jam-band mountain, it was a time to be defined and thus they did.
Opening the show with a cripplingly fast "Golgi" they quickly jaunted into "Run Like an Antelope" with Trey looping a (whale call) "Antelope" comes forth with great sound, a different sound. Next is a refreshingly era-esqe "Train Song". Later a fluid jam conspires during a near flawless "Gin" containing within a jam that has a building feature to it almost like "harry hood" that eventually fades out into a wah-wah jam /"Foam" bass-slapping segue. The "Foam" that takes place next is rolling with slicing guitar rifts and playful piano laying atop the Bass ripping that eventually bubbles and dips way low near the center of the song and slows to near silence. Trey then gently noodles the track back from near nothingness. A well placed "Sample In a Jar" and "Fee" the later of which garnered cheers of joy from the crowd- the show at this point begins to show a different side to Phish- and show's how much they have changed over the past 15 years. While it's still the same four members the sound it very different, more precise and yes young sounding. Looping out of "Fee" into "Maze" there is a truly psychedelic feel to the intro of the song- a sound that Trey employed many times over the course of this tour. If compared to a "Maze" of recent memory it would have to be the light-saber version from Portsmouth, VA on June 19th of this past Summer Tour. Opening with a drawn out eerie feeling the song is crisp and refreshing again the sound quality is notable. As a high point in the first set if not the entire show this Maze is not to be missed as
it goes into some rarely charted territory.
The 2nd set "Tweezer" is literally teased into formation. The jam is multi-layered and could seriously be the poster child "Tweezer" for this era. Form without form.
One of the better "Tweezers" of the entire tour. Clocking in at over 22 minutes(not rare at all for 1997) it segues in a mish-mash of dirty butt rock into a rip roaring version of Jimmy Hendrix's "Izabella". After being rocked for over a half an hour a minmalist "Twist" comes out. With the song in it's infancy this version is a must hear- with just guitar and
a little bit of drumming as they sing the lyrics building to the harmonically famous chorus."Piper" is clean and refreshing- also new to the world of Phish fans this version heavy on the keys comes across like a hot shower on a cold day. A fun and almost playful "Sleeping Monkey" draws into a even more excited "Tweezer Reprise"- wrapping up the elongated 7 song- 2nd Disc. "Rocky Top" is the encore and caps off a perfectly perfect Phish show. With quickening speed and an awesome piano solo coming after Trey's scream of "Play it Leo!!!" I found this release to be pitch perfect- and the sound as good as the soundboards that we get today. The drums and bass are clear, piano and keys easily defined and Trey's guitar- as if there were any doubt comes across like a hot knife through butter.
The beauty of this release is there are few antics, few one-off's-yet one can tell why this show was picked for release. It's complete. And a complete show like this
gives all the listeners a chance to time travel back to that tour when Clinton was president, mail order was still MAIL-ORDER and Phish decidedly so in the best of ways; destroyed America.