Phish — Ritz Theatre — Tampa, FL 02.26.1993
I Jim, Foam, Fee->Melt, Fluffhead, Llama, Horn, Divided, IDK>Cavern
II Cup>Paul & Silas>Tweezer, Glide>CDT, Mound, BBJ, YEM, HYHU>Lengthwise>HYHU, Coil, Reprise
E Bold as Love, Adeline
Here we have a lightly regarded or possibly lesser known show that hides a few gems to be unearthed. This is the first of two stops at this venue in the year with the August visit being more widely known considering the cache that August ’93 holds. But this show has energy, high quality playing, some real live takeaway jams, and that youthful exuberance of the band on the rise. None of these factors on their own make the show a must-hear experience but as a whole it works and as such this is one of the first shows on this tour not part of a run at a major venue (i.e. The Roseland or Roxy shows) that really comes together to be greater than the sum of its parts.
This commences from the get as they open with a fiery take on Jim where Trey takes charge in moving the jam alomstbutnotquite outside of the boundaries of the song. You can tell they are starting to want to jump off the deep end with this song and even though the massive versions of Jim are still more than two years away starting with Raleigh, NC 06.16.1995 — to say nothing of the longest version of any song ever that is the Worcester Jim from 11.29.1997. The seeds are being sowed here though and in just about a month we will start the hear more from this tune. Foam follows with a straightforward and punchy version that piggybacks off of the opener in getting everyone up and moving. trey again shines throughout this one. After a cleanly played Fee we get a Melt where Trey unloads a few clips from the machine gun and Fish backs him up with some insane fills while Page and Mike throw in their own flavors for a version that really points out how quickly they could connect on songs at this stage as at the peak all four seem to be going in different directions at the same time together… which I know makes perfect sense to you. Seriously, check this version out. This is straight fire in under ten minutes. A pretty well nailed Fluffhead comes up next (which is maybe the best version of the song to date this tour) and, once again, the addition of the baby grand piano brings a new life to the vibrancy of tunes like this one. It is a much cleaner sound than the electric piano me thinks and adds to a nicely peaked out version. The shred clinic continues for Llama and then Horn takes it down a notch before a real purty Divided with a pause that seems to last an eternity and Trey and Page combine to fillet the resolution. IDK pops up again tonight for more Fish nickname fun and the Madonna’s “sister” washboard solo in the 9th appearance for the song here in the 20th show of tour. We then get a Cavern closer (woo?) bringing us to a well deserved break to discuss just how hot this first set was. Interestingly, there are no Secret Language or other teases to be found here giving weight to the notion that they were just head-down-going-for-it without much outward thought involved. I approve of this set and wish to subscribe to its newsletter.
The second set starts off with a fun trifecta of Cup>P&S>Tweezer that carries over the mood from the first set. They are starting to really take Lovin’ Cup as their own now even while staying very true to the songs original form. After that quick grassy interlude for Paul & Silas we have a pretty much in the box Tweezer that elevates into a well developed jam. Trey finds an interesting line to follow and Fish goes with him, Page tags along, Mike says “sure, why not”, and they are into something not quite but still kinda tweezery before bringing it back around for the big peak. It’s just a fun ride. A crisp take on Glide provides the breather before a positively raging CDT (so unusual for the time period, huh?). They follow this up with a rather fast paced Mound before bringing out the balls for the all but ubiquitous BBJ before heading into YEM for the second night in a row. This one is very well played (I do love me some of that beautiful nirvana section action. It just amps up the anticipation.) with Page taking a nice solo on the organ where you can almost feel Trey just biding his timing thinking “just wait, yo. be patient…” before he takes over and, oh boy, does he ever. Out comes the gun for another attack. There’s the shred, an Oye Como Va tease and then is goes to a quite quick B&D breakdown before the VJ gets all Pete Schall’d. It might be one of the shorter takes on the song but there’s a lot packed into those sixteen plus minutes. Fish Fun Time is up next and tonight we have that classic ‘sing-along’ (according to Fish) Lengthwise. After a lovely take on Coil we get the booming Reprise closer we knew was coming. The encore is a bit flipped with Bold as Love (Trey nailing the solo here, naturally) preceding the shush-ful Adeline but, seriously, how do you overcome the drunken lovelies?
This one might not make it on the big board at the end of the tour but up until now this is one of the better total shows they have played. The show works better as a complete thing than in picking out individual highlights but I will note that if you are strapped for time or something you should focus on Jim, Melt, Tweezer, and YEM. BUt do yourself a favor and play this show at high volume straight through. You won’t regret it.
Just a note on content:
I had thought about doing another “stats so far” summary for this post being that this is the 20th show of the tour and round numbers are nice but I’m going to wait until the 25th show (Austin, TX 03.06.1993) since that will put us with Florida, Lousiana, and Texas in the rearview mirror. So we have that to look forward to which is nice.