Phish — Paul Wright Gym, WSU — Gunnison, CO 03.14.1993
I Cup>Foam, Guelah, Sparkle, Stash, Paul & Silas>Sample, Reba, PYITE>Jim
II Halley’s>Bowie, Curtis Loew>YEM->Spooky Jam->YEM, Lifeboy, Rift, BBJ, GGITS>HYHU, Coil
E Memories, Adeline, Golgi
Here on the back end of a three night run that had the band traipsing back and forth across Colorado we have a Sunday night show, the last Colorado show before they make the jump over to Arizona on the way towards the West Coast. Playing in the midst of a Spring snowstorm, this would be the band’s last time performing in the highest collegiate gym in the world (he he. that works on more than one level) as their next visit to this mountainous state would be for their first performance at Red Rocks during the much ballyhooed August leg of the upcoming summer tour. This is the 30th show of the tour over 39 days that have seen the band play in 14 states. I’ll detail some tour stats towards the end here today since I think they are somewhat telling at this stage of the game but let’s get into it, shall we?
First set kicks off with that new cover Loving Cup and by now they have it down to where the band and crowd are feeling what this song will be. That energy carries over into a spirited Foam where Trey plays some nice leads over the thumping rhythm section. This gives way to Guelah, Sparkle (non-FMS) and four songs in we have gotten the crowd up enough to hear them well on the aud. Notably, Foam and Guelah in the 2/3 holes is pretty common at this point in the tour so I think one could say that for the band these were definitely being used as ‘warm up’ tunes to a certain extent. Now we drop into Stash which stays mainly in the box for the first half before they ratchet things up towards a fierce jam that eventually comes back to the main theme in closing up. Definitely a version worth checking out. P&S>Sample gets us to Reba where things get a little bit loose considering they bring out Cameron McKinney after several callouts to him by Trey earlier in the set (he was their favorite child to have guest with the band, of course). There is a decent little jam here but it gets largely overshadowed by the kid’s inclusion as he does a little Indian War Dance solo on piano (which was also teased earlier on in the song by Trey) right before the whistling section and then joins in for the ending chorus. Check it out but don’t expect this to be a world burning version. PYITE is up next and this is another example of the band having found form on a song that just came back for this tour. Considering they still are rotating it with Landlady it is good to hear that they can shift towards the longer song and hit all the right spots. A rocking Jim closer sends the crowd to the setbreak with high hopes for a big second set as it is clear the band has come to play on this evening.
And with that second set things go big right from the start. First we get a massive bustout for a quite well played (all things reconsidered) Halley’s that had been waiting 474 shows between appearances. This is also the first time the song was ever performed without its writer, Richard “Nancy” Wright. There’s no outro jam or anything, but they get the energy muffin cooking from the start here. This heads straight away into Bowie and having this fill the second slot should be indication enough that things are going swimmingly. The jam here is pure T&R, staying mainly in the box but with Trey playing some evocative leads above the fray along the way. Another quality jam to add to the list here. Oh and next? Yeah, let’s just bust out another one from the way back with Curtis Loew popping in after 302 shows passed by. Again, nothing major here but considering the time between versions it is nice to hear them play it well. So that gets us to the meat of the set which is a major YEM the likes of which were talked about and traded as commodity back in the day. This one starts off well enough with a quite patient and pretty nirvana section before they head off into the jam. After a couple of minutes in the YEM box they go outside first for an ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ quote (with Trey throwing in a vocal), then some ‘Low Rider’ action, then a full ‘Spooky’ jam (with Page on vocals), all followed by a seamless run into ‘Oye Como Va’ before the short D&B gets us to the VJ. And we aren’t finished yet! First they drop a tease of the Pretenders’ tune ‘Mystery Achievement’ (you may not recognize the song’s name, but you will know it when you hear it) before getting to a ‘We Will Rock You’ chant and eventually a full quote of ‘Welcome to the Machine’ prior to the breakdown into madness that includes some spirited pirate banter. This was my favorite YEM for quite some time (and the last show one of my brothers hit before a 17 year gap that we closed in 2010… but that’s another story) so I know it very well and I implore you to give the full thing the listen if you don’t know it. You won’t be disappointed. Next we get a much deserved cool down with a beaut of a Lifeboy (only the third of tour and first in 26 shows), then a pretty well shredded Rift. BBJ will then get us to a debut with the first Great Gig in the Sky filling the Fish Fun time slot instead of the normal Syd Barrett and other light fare. This is a nice change of pace and well done in its hilarious fashion on the vac and includes the spoken lyrics before the main section. Page then tickles the ivories nicely for the Coil closer and we have a triple encore of Memories, Adeline, Golgi to take us into the thin, snowy air of the Colorado night.
Look, this isn’t the best show ever and it may not even make the top ten sets of Spring ’93 when it is all said and done but it makes a pretty good case for inclusion. That second set has everything one could hope for and more out of ’93 Phish including on point playing, high energy, antics, open jamming, bustouts, a debut, and more. And to think that they are still easily on the upswing with this tour just makes you shake your head and laugh. For highlights from this one I’ll say you should spin Stash, Reba, possibly PYITE>Jim, and pretty much the whole second set though you could take out the Rift, BBJ section since that is fairly standard. I guess you could leave out Halley’s and Curtis too but being the big bustouts they were, why not just let ‘em run, eh?
Now it is time to follow the lines headed… west… but while we are here let’s talk stats for a bit, okay? After 30 shows on this tour some noticeable patterns have taken shape in terms of song placement and choice. There are some songs that are clearly being played quite frequently as [leaving out HYHU] there are eight songs that have been played in at least half of the shows: BBJ (22), Grace (20), Rift (20), Poor Heart (19), Sparkle (16), Stash (16), YEM (16), and Llama (15). Another 21 songs have been played more than 10 times so it is clear that the rotation is relatively tight which stands to reason considering this tour is essentially supporting the release of Rift which came out the day before the tour began. In total there have been 112 songs played with 12 debuts (I’m not counting ‘jams’ such as the .net identified ‘Spooky Jam’ in this show’s YEM) which is a pretty good rate there. In terms of some of those patterns, the easiest place to look is at openers/closers/encores. For show openers, the songs are fairly evenly spread out with Golgi the leader at only 6 shows opened. For openers it has been more about stringing together 3-4 solid energy songs to get the crowd moving and allow the band to warm up before heading into jammier waters. First set closers are more telling with Antelope (11) and Bowie (9) being very far ahead of everything else. Second set openers are all over the place with Axilla and Jim each having 5 to their name to lead the way. Show closers are a bit surprising with Reprise (7) holding first and Grace in second (5) after which it becomes muddled. And then not surprisingly the a cappella tunes rule the encores with Grace (13) in the lead over Adeline (7). Maybe this minutiae is only interesting to me, but it is telling when you go through an entire tour to start to see these patterns emerge as it all unfolds.
So that’s the story here. One thing to note is that most sources out there for this one have an aud for the first set and then an sbd for the second which is quite nice. Enjoy this one and we’ll be back shortly with more from AZ…