Phish — Celebrity Theatre — Phoenix, AZ 03.16.1993
I Adeline, Buried Alive>Poor Heart>Ice, Fee>Maze, IDK, Divided, HYHU>You Gotta See Mama Every Night, McGrupp, Cavern
II MFMF, Curtain>Tweezer->Sweet Emotion Jam->Tweezer->Gin, Esther>Secret Language Instructions>Esther>CDT, YEM, HYHU>Bike, Lengthwise>Bike, HYHU, Lawn Boy>Llama, Grace
After a night off for a little rest and travel the band is in Arizona for one night only as the tour rolls on its merry way. After the crispy sbd from the last set this show is a little jarring to hear, but there’s some quality to be found here amidst the hiss and crackle of tape generations gone by. Plus, this show was at a “theatre in the round” which is something I’ve always wanted to experience for Phish as no matter where you sit in this type of room you eventually get a great view of the band… or their backs as the case may be.
First set starts with the then-not-too-uncommon a cappella (un-mic’d) opener Adeline (in this instance so that the band could capitalize on the intimate room and the great acoustics therein) before Buried Alive storms in to get things going properly. This heads into a quickly paced Poor Heart and a pretty stock (though well played) Ice before we get our first left turn of the evening. Fee starts up and it seems normal enough until you realize Trey <em>isn’t</em> using the microphone, in fact he’s singing through the megaphone un-mic’d. The band backs off so that he can be heard here in a somewhat unique though otherwise straight forward version. This leads to a white hot Maze that stays in the box but definitely will get you doing that Maze thing, checking left and right to make sure you are still in the room and not in fact stuck in a maze. Don’t worry you are in the room. The maze is a macguffin. Phew. A brief IDK with an un-mic’d solo of some sort gets us to a real purty like Divided that the crowd gives great appreciation for at the end. Trey then mentions his grandmother being there in the crowd and we get some HYHU tinklings from Page as Trey’s grandfather takes the stage to lead the band through the Dixieland standard ‘You Gotta See Mama Every Night’ in honor of grandma. Everybody say “awwwwwwww”. Next up is Poss… hang on, Trey shuts down Fish on that intro to get the first McGrupp of the tour going (in honor of Page according to Trey but could have been a ) which, while a tad sloppy, is nice to hear as always before Cavern takes us to the break to discuss the merits of viewing Fish’s backside as part of the total experience.
Second set begins with MFMF and this one is getting darker and darker the more they play it. There’s no Eugene here but they are leaning that way before dropping into The Curtain>Tweezer (an always welcome pairing). The Curtain is fine enough but the Tweezer is where the meat lies in this pairing (naturally) as after a few minutes of chugging through the main theme they hit on ‘Sweet Emotion’ and take it in fully, including lyrics for a bit before returning to Tweezer for a slowed down end jam that never fully resolves before we are hit with Gin on the back end. This is a pre-open style Gin so it is largely straight forward though there are hints of what might be with this song here. It is interesting to note that they only played the song infrequently that year with 15 show gaps being the norm. In fact, after two more showings from this one it would be shelved for almost 30 shows before coming back in a big way in August with two consecutive versions that are worthy, notably including The Murat Gin which seems to have been the tipping point for the song in a lot of ways. But I digress… After this they get into Esther and as they typically throw SL here, Trey decides to lay out some instructions for the Random Note, Simpsons, and All Fall Down signals. This is actually the last known time he has done this so if you don’t know them by then, good luck I suppose. After taking us through the twisted tale of that poor poor lass, we get a rocking CDT that precedes a rather in-the-box YEM. Granted, we are comparing that somewhat to the one the show previous but still. Heck, they didn’t even VJ this one instead heading into HYHU. Fish Fun Time is next on the bill and here we get Bike and a crowd-initiated Lengthwise (briefly) before the Bike resolution. Then there’s a Lawn Boy with Page taking a solo on vocals before a shreddy Llama and a Grace closer just to bookend this one with a cappella tunes. Your encores are Sparkle and Reprise which is a nice pairing for getting people amped up before sending them off into the night.
Overall, this is a decent show with a few memorable highlights and what seems to be great band/crowd interaction on several levels. Definitely a loose feel here as they are clearly in the road way by now and closing in on the midpoint of this 71 show tour. I’d listen to the Tweezer->Sweet Emotion->Tweezer->Gin segment, maybe the YEM for the end jam, and Lawn Boy for the hilarity of it. Now we are off to California for a ten show run up to the Northwest for six shows and the end of this leg of the tour.