CRACKER, MEAT PUPPETS
Upper Darby, PA
May 10, 1994
Review by Alan Sheckter
Pretty good list for the Tower Theater, I thought. The ticket buying public apparently didn't agree. Only about 1000 tickets were sold for this 3000+ seat theater. To give the illusion of a full house, there were two black curtains hung. One, upstairs, blocking off the upper balcony; and the other downstairs, cutting off the back of the orchestra. Only the Tower's new general admission "room to move" area in front of the stage, and the lower balcony were used. Kind of weird.
Those crazy Meat Puppets, led by lead guitar and vocalist Curt Kirkwood and his brother Cris, who plays bass guitar and also sings came out at 8:00 for their one-hour set. The crowd, who ranged in age from their late teens to late 30s gave the Meat Puppets a subdued, polite greeting. By the end of the set (the closer was "Lake Of Fire" which dates back to 1984), folks were visibly impressed. Their tunes were highlighted by rapid fire guitars achieving sonic/astral jams and simply lots of fast, electric knee-slapping fun. They even did an acoustic, bluegrass/rock novelty song probably called "Sleepy Pee-Pee." Their biggest hit to date (in their successful yet non-commercial 14 year career), "Backwater," was excellent as was the powerful ballad "Roof With A Hole." The most impressive to me was "Another Moon," a ten-minute extravaganza full of blazingly swift 1/32 guitar notes. A job well done.
David Lowery and Johnny Hickman, the two main men of Cracker took the stage at 9:30 and threw excellent, entertaining songs at us for 90 minutes. While Lowery, former Camper Von Beethoven leader is also the apparent leader of Cracker, Hickman, armed with a killer Gibson Les Paul with neat tribal designs on it is no slouch. In fact, his Johnny Cash-like country guitar inflections add immensely to their character. Cracker is crisp, upbeat and very talented. The guitar, guitar, bass, drum thing work well for them as they briskly performed songs like "Movie Star," "Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)," "This Is Cracker Soul." Hickman led and sang "Lonesome Johnny Blues" and did a first-rate job. Another highlight was the tongue-in-cheek "Take The Skinheads Bowling," and old CVB song.
Of note after their better-than-the-original Grateful Dead song "Loser," Lowery took the crowd by surprise. He said, "We thought if we covered a Grateful Dead tune, we'd get the band's attention, and we did. We'll be playing with them - in Oregon - in June - in Eugene. So, if you're gonna be out there, come see us." We are everywhere!
Two other songs, that are unlisted bonus tracks on their current "Kerosene Hat" also were splendid: the frenzied "I Ride My Bike" and the mellow "Eurotrash Girl." Their big hit "Low" also appeared, and the fans showed their approval of the excellent version.
These two bands were right on target on a night when most fans stayed home.
CRACKER'S SET: Movie Star, Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now), Let's Go For A Ride, I See The Light, Get Off This, Eurotrash Girl, This Is Cracker Soul, Loser, Mr. Wrong, Lonesome Johnny Blues, Low, -a CVB song-, Take The Skinheads Bowling, Take Me Down To The Infirmary, I Ride My Bike, Dr. Bernice. Encore: I Want Everything (thanks to my good buddy Renee Cugini, King of Prussia, PA for the list)
CRASH TEST DUMMIES, OCTOBER PROJECT
February 11, 1994
Review by Alan Sheckter
An enthralling combination of two bands that have enjoyed substantial recent success descended on Philadelphia for a very sold-out show on a very, very snowbound night. The extraordinary number of snow and ice storms in this region this past winter had rendered many concerts canceled or postponed, and I feared this show would meet the same fate. With a full nine inches of snow on the landscape, we eagerly slid, spun and plowed into the city.
Parking was an adventure. Oh well. Put the car somewhere, worry about digging it out later. I figured the crowd would be somewhat sparse, but I was wrong. The Cabaret (one of Philly's bigger and most notable clubs) was wall to wall an hour before show time. The well-bred, well-mannered music lovers gathered on the floor and waited.
About 10:00, New York's (actually North Jersey's) October Project walked out on stage to thunderous approval. Led by the gorgeous diva with the dazzling opera-like voice of Mary Fahl, they performed for about 45 minutes, utilizing almost every track from their self-titled debut LP. As she led the group through their set, Fahl's voice and sheer concentration were awe-inspiring and the crowd was all ears from beginning to end. Songs included the extremely melodic opener "Bury My Lovely," as well as "Ariel," "Eyes Of Mercy," "the stirring, soulful "Be My Hero," the kind, endearing acoustic and bongo driven "Return To Me," "Take Me As I Am" and "Always."
The band is a class act all the way, and Fahl is an amazing vocalist, not interested in teasing or showing off her considerable physical beauty. Instead, she and backup singer/keyboardist Marina Belica concentrate on the projection and beauty of their voices.
I know what it means to be free.
Now I want to know how to love you;
Return to me, return to me"
-from "Return To Me"
October Project, who have seeped into the collective psyche of adult modern radio with their sweet, dreamy contemporary sound, are a unique, polished live act as well. After the encore, the crowd gave its final polite yet zealous ovation to Fahl and company.
Though the crowd was mostly card-carrying politically correct, mild-mannered music fans, anticipation got to some (maybe it was the low barometer), who grew itchy as the hour grew late and the Crash Test Dummie were a bit slow hitting the stage. They finally came on around midnight, and they would eventually please all.
To know Canada's Crash Test Dummies is to know Brad Roberts' unbelievably deep voice. The charismatic long-hair shows off a lovable nature on stage as he portrayed thought provoking adult images of childhood realizations. In "Swimming In Your Ocean," for instance, Roberts asks the unanswerable musical question, "Why does God cause things like tornadoes and train wrecks?" Other imagery (that devout religious followers might object to) can be found in the opening number and title track from Arista's current, Jerry Harrison produced God Shuffled His Feet. God is more human here as Roberts tells us that after the seventh day (of creation) God invited some folks to picnic on wine and bread, and delighted with the world He created, God "shuffles his feet" in happy contentment.
While brother Dan Roberts previously played bass, the five person band at the Chestnut included Brad Roberts on acoustic and electric guitars, the talented multi-instrumentalist (mandolin, harmonica and maracas-type shaker thing), Thomas Dolby look-alike Benjamin Darvill, Ellen Reid as well as another female, both on keyboards and vocals, and a drummer. Roberts resembles an old fashion minstrel, telling funny stories between songs, wearing a simple outfit of jeans, red T-shirt and casual, open vest. The Crash Test Dummies performed for about 90 minutes, picking selections from their current and first album, The Ghosts That Haunt Me, including the popular, much requested "Superman's Song."
The personable, positive and talented, slightly quirky, left of center acoustic rock of the Dummies and the operatic beauty of October Project made this bill a great showcase of two trendy bands. Roberts especially wins my vote of support solely for his ability to hum the lyric "Mmm mmm mmm mmm" loud enough to be heard over the band. Try it yourself. It ain't easy!
CRASH TEST DUMMIES SET (reasonably complete, but not necessarily in order): God Shuffled His Feet, Afternoons & Coffeespoons, Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm, Superman's Song, How Does A Duck Know, When I Go Out With An Artist, Here I Stand Before Me, Winter Song, The Country Life, The Ghosts That Haunt Me, Androgynous, Coming Back Soon, At My Funeral (thanks to Alan Guralnick, West Chester, PA for contributing to this review)
March 28, 1994
Review by Alan Sheckter
Another year, another Spring Tour. Geographically, this was not the most prolific tour, in terms of number of performances in the densest area of Dead Heads, the Northeastern United States. The five late-March shows at Long Island's Nassau Coliseum were the only shows within 400 miles of New York City. The band would reappear next all the way down in Atlanta.
This led to a larger than normal amount of "Miracle" people, those who ignore the band's wishes (the Dead have actually come on the radio and begged "fans" not to do this), and shuffle around the parking lot, some with signs, some with only an extended index finger, and each with their own faith that someone will bestow a ticket on them.
This was the fifth and final show of the sold-out Long Island run. It was really the sixth in a row for Bob Weir, who chose to "work" on the Dead's off-night and play a set with bassist/chum Rob Wasserman. That set included "Take Me To The River," "Easy Answers," "Throwin' Stones," "Fever," "Maggie's Farm" and a new tune at New York City's Beacon Theater.
There was one major change with the Dead on this tour. Long-time Dead associate Sam Cutler had taken over the helm at the soundboard, a position that Dan Healy had seemingly held forever. This change was apparent to all of those who didn't know and even to most of us that did know of the change.
It was a fine run of shows, and one point cannot be stressed enough. The band performed five shows here, and did not repeat a single song. Not one. That to me is absolutely incredible. Tell your friends that one next time they say that the Dead always play the same sh--.
The crowd was fairly orderly and not overly rowdy, which was nice, especially considering we were in "Noo Yawk." With the Dead Head multitudes assembled, the band hit the stage. They took a couple of moments to warm up, as they were actually getting ready for an opening trio of songs. As we whispered to each other our guesses for the opener, guitars quietly began to lightly strum on stage - the band was opening with the oft-covered "Let The Good Times Roll," a song the Dead do from time to time, but hadn't done in the previous 23 shows. They perform it as a moderately slow shuffle with a four-way acapella ending by Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Vince Welnick. Without time to rest, Garcia nodded his head and the boys launched into a rousing "Bertha," highlighted by Jerry's belting out the lyrics, "Test me, test me, why don't you arrest me? Throw me in the jailhouse, until the sun goes down." Somewhat predictable, but not a disappointment, Phil Lesh blood pumped powerful bass notes to assure the segue into "Greatest Story Ever Told," a song that can really be traced to "the Pump Song," that appeared on an old Mickey Hart solo LP. Fast-paced, vigorous jamming, Weir's vocal treatment and timely computer generated colorful lighting effects brought a high energy level to a show that was barely ten minutes old.
The Dead, as always, connected with each other as one mind, the musicians, instruments and even the crowd reaching one incomparable essence seemingly greater than the sum of its parts. As expected, the next song would be a ballad. rarely do the Dead stay on a searing, breakneck pace for a long period of time. They ebb and flow with moods of intensity mixed with moments of subdued beauty. And so, Garcia led the laid back "West L.A. Fadeaway." Next I was hoping that Bob Weir would pick up his acoustic guitar (it was perched right behind him) and regale us in that fashion as he has done occasionally in the past year. Nope, not this time. Instead was his version of Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece," the crowd vocally reacting to the phrase, "Oh the hours we spent - inside the Coliseum...". Years ago, it was Garcia who did this song frequently with the Jerry Garcia Band. It's been Weir's baby for about ten years now. Garcia next sang the beautiful, somewhat rare (only performed twice in the last year) "It Must've Been The Roses," the faithful crowd swaying to and fro to the Robert Hunter tune. Time to pick up the pace again, with a snappy "Beat It On Down The Line," done once in a while since the 1960s. Succeeding that was Garcia's rendering of the traditional love song "Fenario" and Weir's treatment of the Dead's FM radio hit from the mid-1970s "Music Never Stopped" (with an intricate monster jam at the end that really had the boys working) which crescendoed to a finale that ended the first set.
After a break, we were ready for set two. Since it was the final show of a long run, we were hoping for a "let it all hang out" set. It very easily could have been a short, terse set as well because the band could've been weary by now. Happily, we got the goods. The set opened with the four-way acapella harmony of the Beatles' 1966 hit "Rain." This was excellent for several reasons. First, it is a lovely rendition of a classic. Second, it was still relatively new as a Dead song, and previously it had almost always been an encore, and third, it was raining outside. The slow lyric "Rrraaaaiiiinnnn - I don't mind" received thunderous applause. Okay, super opener, then what? Weir threw in a fine version of "Victim Or The Crime," followed by Phil Lesh's only lead vocal of the New York run, the appropriate "Box Of Rain." Next was my millionth "He's Gone," a tune which an old friend once said "plods on like an old dying horse." Okay, we had our four songs, and I was ready for the drum duet. Instead, Garcia would sing his second song in a row (Weir and Garcia usually tradeoff lead vocals) and the third of the set that spoke of the weather. It was McCartney's "That Would Be Something," a charming ditty that found Jerry repeating the quiet and friendly phrase, "meet you in the pouring rain." In an unprecedented move, Garcia hung tough and threw more coal on the second set fire and did his third song in a row, the traditional "Goin' Down The Road (Feeling Bad) Can you find any examples of Jerry legitimately singing three songs in a row - ever? (4/19/77 comes to mind, sports fans...). After all the "rain" songs, the "Going where the climate suits my clothes" lyric really hit home.
Finally, the band broke for the traditional percussion duet, followed by fine versions of Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower," the yet to be released Garcia ballad, "Days Between" and traditional "Turn On Your Lovelight" to end the set. The now-rare 1970 lullaby "Brokedown Palace" was the encore. We left happy and satisfied... until the next tour...
KRISTEN HERSH, POOKA
Theatre of Living Arts
April 23, 1994
Review by Netta Gilboa
I was told Kristin Hersh's songs were in the same vein as Joni Mitchell's so I jumped at the chance to go hear her. God knows Joni doesn't tour. Hersh hardly sounds like Joni Mitchell, but I was surely not disappointed.
The opening band, Pooka, have a very promising future. They are two women who are clearly friends offstage and whose songs have great harmonies. They also have unusual words. Just when you think you are listening to a love song, they throw you a curve ball. Their name comes from the mythical Irish goblin that appears friendly and charming but then turns nasty with no warning. Keep an eye out for them in years to come.
The woman sitting next to me turned out to be a huge Kristin Hersh fan which was useful since Hersh did not introduce any of the songs by name. She also told me Hersh already has quite a following from the band she used to play with, Throwing Muses. Wearing ripped blue jeans and a simple shirt, Hersh played songs one after the other with a few choice stories intertwined. I would pay money just to hear her tell more stories. She plugged Pooka's set twice, described her appearance on a talk show the night before and laughed about her new video and touring with a small child. The songs were good to great too.
A fun evening out if you like music which relies on lyrics more than electric guitars and laser light shows.
Hersh's set: Sundrops, Houdini Blues, Me and My Charms, new song, Red Shoes, The Cuckoo, Tuesday Night, Juno, new song, A Loom. Encore #1: Amazing Grace Deliberate Cutters. Encore #2: Pearl. Thanks for Laura Koepfler of Philadelphia, PA for the songlist and pleasant conversation.
February 19, 1994
Review by Netta Gilboa
It had been just over a year and a half since I'd last seen Melanie. This cult folk singer does not tour too often. Tin Angel is a splendid acoustic club I'd never been to before. They sell gourmet coffees and unusual teas in addition to booze and the 100 people lucky enough to get in for this show got wonderful beverages and service along with great music.
An opening artist who was listed on the bill didn't play, and so Melanie ended up getting all of the scheduled time. She did two shows, both thoroughly sold out with people turned away. Backed by guitarist Norman Rockwell and her two daughters Leilah and Jeordie, Melanie plugged songs from her newest CD Freedom Knows My Name and allowed the audience to call out requests for old favorites.
Since she has performed since 1967, Melanie's repretoire includes easily as many songs as bands like the Grateful Dead. Yet, unlike most other artists, she's not afraid to reach into the past and try most anything fans call out for. Highlights of the early show included a cover of Cheryle Wheeler's "Estate Sale" with the changed line "I found a brand new pair of roller skates going through dead people's houses," "Leftover Wine," a verse of "Happy Birthday" sung impromptu by the audience complete with two audience members producing photos of daughters they named after Melanie (she passed the photos to her daughters before continuing with the show) and a cover of Arlo Guthrie's "Generation Song," said to have been written by Arlo for Melanie.
The late show was three songs longer with even more audience interaction. The evening's highlight was when a woman walked by the stage en route to the ladies room. She showed Melanie a button she had on which said "I'm A Beautiful People Too." Melanie decided to play the song and graciously waited for the woman to return from the bathroom. It took quite awhile and Melanie ended up telling the story of how she wrote "Beautiful People" (which I'd never heard in 22 years of being a die-hard fan). She discussed the history of the buttons made and finally yelled to the woman "Hey, you better get out of the bathroom."
Other highlights included "Autumn Lady," a cover of "Purple Haze," a broken string during "Look What They Done To My Song, Ma" and a chilling "Peace Will Come."
If Melanie comes to your town, don't miss the chance to see
her. People came to the Tin Angel from as far away as New York
City, Maryland and even Australia. They knew she performs with
an honesty and a passion rarely found elsewhere in the music business.
This is one artist who'll keep you counting the days and years
until you can find somewhere else to see her again.
Early show: ?/Live Coal/Freedom Knows My Name/Lovin' The Boy Next Door/Life Will Not Go Away/Estate Sale/Brand New Key/Silence Is King/Ring The Living Bell/Happy Birthday/Selenium Blue/Leftover Wine/Poet/Generation Song/Beautiful People. e: Look What They Done To My Song, Ma. Late Show: Didn't You Ever Love Somebody/I'm Back In Town/Mononguahela River/Someday I'll Be A Farmer/Too Late/Ring The Living Bell/Estate Sale/Beautiful People/Tonight's The Kinda Night/Detroit Or Buffalo/Autumn Lady/Silence Is King//Purple Haze/Look What They Done To My Song, Ma/Under False Pretenses/Bald/Peace Will Come/Freedom Knows My Name. Instead of an encore, Melanie graciously signed autographs and posed for pictures with any fans who waited in line.
Toronto, ON, Canada
October 7, 1993
Review by Erik Twight
This was Maceo's second appearance in Toronto in 1993 and he seems to be getting more popular than ever. He has been playing horns (and flute) for about a quarter century now, beginning his touring and recording career with James Brown in the late 1960s working on such classics as "It's A Man's Man's Man's World" and "Sex Machine." With fellow J.B.'s Fred Wesley Jackson and Pee Wee Ellis as well as Bootsy Collins, Maceo left James Brown in the early seventies and joined the U.S. Funk Mob led by George Clinton. After leaving the P. Funk All-Stars, Maceo Parker has been recording and touring with his own act, consisting of his fellow J.B. horns and a back-up band. His band this time featured a new keyboard player and a new bass player. The band played an introductory instrumental before the horn section came on stage and played a Ray Charles number (they are due to tour with him) before kicking off their usual show starter, "Shake Everything You've Got."
Like his last visit to Toronto, the jamming was amazing throughout the concert. The horns are clearly the lead instruments in this band, and Maceo and company remind his audience that horns can lead a band, and groove as well as guitars. The set consisted of jammed out organic funk, culling from their work with James Brown, George Clinton and on Maceo's albums. I believe one of their songs was a Marvin Gaye cover, but I could be mistaken. The set lasted for almost two hours before the band re-emerged to play encores of "Soul Power" and "Sex Machine." What came next was a welcome surprise; they performed a medley of Funkadelic's "Red Hot Mama" and an instrumental run-through of "Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On" before returning to the James Brown jam. The horn players sauntered off stage while the band finished the tune, garnishing it with Booker T.-styled keyboard playing.
With the slow, but finally mounting popularity of Maceo's Live On Planet Groove (recorded live in Cologne), Maceo Parker is becoming as popular fronting his own band as his former co-funkateers James Brown and George Clinton. If you are in any way a fan of funk music or its current derivative acid jazz, check out Maceo Parker and party down.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Review by Jason Gossard
Officially, this was the first show of Phish's Spring tour, and the first show since the release of their new album. I was lucky enough to have my Spring Break this week (I'm a teacher), and was psyched to find myself in another country ready to catch the first week of the Spring Tour. Waiting in line for the show, I discovered that Phish had played a surprise Burlington show the night before, and upon seing the set list, saw that it cooked. I was kind of bummed upon hearing this, considering that I was crashed in a motel room just north of Burlington the night before. But the excitement of this show was overwhelming, and I was fully prepared for an excellent time.
The show didn't start until almost an hour-and-a-half late, thanks to some poor entrance handling by the venue management. People were starting to get a little grumpy and irritated and annoyed, but when the lights went out, and those first chords from "Runaway Jim" filled the room, all was forgiven. One of the simply happiest ways to start a show, "Runaway Jim" had the crowd dancin' and bouncin' in no time. The closing jam was exhilarating, and the energy carried over into one of the better "Foam"'s I've seen. The intensity continued with "Fluffhead," and I personally was grinning from ear to ear by the time Trey was putting the final flourishes on his closing solo. For the most part, unfortunately, the first set peaked at this point, although the "new song" of the set-"Julius"- was a surprise treat. Not being too thrilled with the (over)production on the album, I found myself dancing frantically to the raw and energetic "Julius" that the boys were performing in front of me; and unlike the album version, the live "Julius" climaxes with a rollicking jam. The closing number of the set- "AC/DC Bag"- was a very nice surprise, and even though the middle of this first set didn't really move me, this closer left me feeling good.
The second set opened with what was for me the highlight of the tour. I am a Frank Zappa freak, and practically worship every note of music the man ever performed. When I heard that "Peaches en Regalia"opening drum roll, and then heard those oh-so-familiar chords emanating from Trey's guitar, I almost lost it. One of my favorite Zappa tunes (a true Zappa classic), and a song I never got to see FZ perform, "Peaches" was played beautifully by Phish, and was a fitting tribute to the late genius. These three minutes made my whole trip worthwhile.
Apart from this, the rest of the set was great. The second song was a very groovy "Ya Mar," followed by a nicely tweaked-out version of "Tweezer." The second new song of the night- "If I Could"- was, for me, mostly forgettable, except for the stunningly beautiful solo that finished the song. Starting pure and simple, the solo grew and grew, in emotion and in speed, until it was this musical monster. It made me look forward to hearing the song again- all of it. "You Enjoy Myself" was the highlight of the set, but I think that unless something else seriously sweet happens, then that usually goes without saying. Fishman took the stage next, and sang my favorite childhood song, "I Wanna Be Like You" from "The Jungle Book." The song is performed by Mowgli the Man-Cub and by King Louie the Ape in the movie, and Fishman sang both parts, even reciting their respective lines before and during the songs. Everything about this tune - from the vacuum cleaner to Trey's rolling beat to the closing scats by all four members of the band - was fun.
Even though weren't any major break outs as far as song selection goes, and even though the set lists were pretty short, I really enjoyed the show. I was on vacation, thousands of miles away from home, in a foreign (French speaking) country, and the band I was seeing played Zappa tunes. Yes, my view of the situation was biased, but from the looks on the faces around me, I don't think I was the only one having a good time. This was a typically excellent Phish show, and as the tour continued, the shows would just keep getting better.
Set list- #1) Runaway Jim, Foam, Fluffhead, Glide, Julius, Bouncin' Around the Room, Rift, AC/DC Bag #2) Peaches en Regalia, Ya Mar, Tweezer, If I Could, You Enjoy Myself, I Wanna Be Like You, Chalkdust Torture, Amazing Grace (acapella) E)- Nellie Kane (acapella), Golgi Apparatus
Broome County Vet. Memorial
April 9, 1994
Review by Jason Gossard
Binghamton usually proves to be an excellent breeding spot for great Phish music. For some unknown reason, the boys usually pull out all of the stops when playing here, and the Binghamton Phish shows have earned a reputation as being some of the hottest Phish shows to catch. This show, the fifth show on the tour, and the fifth show since the release of the new album, proved to be no disappointment.
The festivities started off on a rather quirky note, with a highly charged "Magilla." If this concert was a book, "Magilla" would have been the prologue, and the real story wouldn't have started until the second song, and even higher charged "Wilson." Throughout the first four shows of the tour, this was the most highly requested song from the audience, with cries of "Wilson" being heard in almost every second of silence. When the boys finally pulled the song out, it was met with an enthusiatic scream from the crowd, and then bid adieu with an even more enthusiastic scream when this charged version was finished. The rest of the first set rolled along nicely, with a "Rift," "Bathtub Gin," "Nellie Kane" (the third one in four shows), and a rockin' "Julius." While the version on the new album is enjoyable, "Julius" live is quite a different beast. Without all the production and horns and backup singers, "Julius" rocks a lot harder in the live setting, and climaxes in a joyous Trey guitar solo, reminscent of the closing solo in "Runaway Jim." Mike Gordon's walking bassline was particularly exciting during this solo. Next came "Fee," "All Things Reconsidered," and then, for me the highlight of the set, "Stash." While I was rather disappointed in the Toronto "Stash" from two shows earlier, this one left me breathless. The closing jam was stunning, and I was once again left amazed at the uncanny ability these guys have to venture out into the far reaches of improv, and yet still sound as if every note was well-rehearsed. "The Squirming Coil" closed the set, and Page's piano explorations left this Binghamton crowd very happy, and eagerly awaiting what would be an even better second set.
The second set opened with a song that for me has become a surprise favorite. When I first heard this song in the Spring of '93, I must admit that it didn't do very much for me. It wasn't a bad tune, but it wasn't anything to write home about. As the band played it more and more, I began to like the song better. They put more energy into it, and the closing guitar rave-up became a show highlight. After they played it to open the second set here in Binghamton, "Sample in a Jar" was undeniably one of my favorite Phish tunes. This version rocked, and set the pace for a hectic and crazy second set. "Reba" was song number two, and the jam in this was easily the spaciest "Reba" jam I've ever heard. "Peaches en Regalia" (Yes, the Frank Zappa tune) was next, and me being an unhealthily avid Zappa fan, I was drooling by this point. After the Beach Ball Jam, the boys broke out "Demand" from the new album, a short, little Zappesque number. They did not perform the ending jam that is found on the album, which is actually the closing jam from a live '93 "Split Open and Melt." Instead, they went into one of the craziest "Mike's Song"'s I've heard in a while. As always, the lights were spellbinding, and the smoke and fog reached an almost choking thickness. "I Am Hydrogen" and "The Groove" were equally insane, and it seemed that the show had reached its peak by this point. But the boys managed to up the ante even more, and performed a beautiful "Tela." Then, to make this show even crazier, the boys pulled out a completely unexpected "Slave to the Traffic Light," with a closing guitar solo that left me with chills running up and down my body. "Cavern" then ended this ridiculously good second set.
Throughout the show, a group of fans in front of the stage kept yelling "AC/DC," in an effort to get the band to play "AC/DC Bag." The band obviously heard this request a number of times throughout the show, and after performing the first encore ("Amazing Grace.") Trey announces that this next tune is for those people in the front. Thinking they're getting their "AC/DC Bag," they cheer. But with typical good humor, Trey rips through the opening chords of "Highway to Hell," and gives the crowd a performance that would have made AC/DC envious. It was the perfect way to end an insanely wicked show.
Set list- #1) Magilla, Wilson, Rift, Bathtub Gin, Nellie Kane, Julius, Fee, All Things Reconsidered, Stash, The Squirming Coil. #2) Sample in a Jar, Reba, Peaches en Regalia, Beach Ball Jam, Demand> Mike's Song> I Am Hydrogen> The Groove, Tela, Slave to the Traffic Light, Cavern. E) Amazing Grace, Highway to Hell
Bob Carpenter Center, U of DE
April 18, 1994
Review by Alan Sheckter
No question. These boys from Burlington, VT are hot! A recent tour featured Phish zig-zagging across America. At the same time, their new Elektra album Hoist entered the Billboard album chart at #34. Three shows at New York's moderate-sized Beacon Theater sold out in 35 minutes. This show at the University of Delaware (capacity 5626) was a sellout, as were most of the shows on this tour. In April and May only, Phish was to play 44 shows in 26 states and provinces. Things are going very well for the band who offer a killer free newsletter, and also keep fans in touch with a telephone hotline as well as through cyberspace with their Phish.Net community.
We arrived at 3:00 PM for an interview (ed. note: see next issue of Gray Areas for an extended interview and insights from Mike Gordon,) and already there were a few tailgaters, hackeysackers and frisbee throwers in the parking lot.
We sat in on the 45 minute soundcheck which contained 20 minutes of jamming and a few songs, one being "If I Could" from the new record. Trey Anastasio, lead guitarist and vocalist (who had the coolest Marvin Martian T-shirt on), sat during most of the soundcheck. He had a full leg cast from an injury suffered on stage only a few days before. He did stand during the actual show. We also watched the lighting and sound technicians do their magic, the stage draped with a black backdrop adorned with huge abstract hieroglyphic-type swaths of paint and mirrored pieces.
There was no opening act, and the show began about 8:05 with a surge toward the stage and screaming recognition from the adoring fans, as the band broke into "Chalkdust Torture." The crowd seemed to be about 90% college kids and about 20% were festooned with (you guessed it) Dead T-shirts. I still can't find the Dead/Phish connection, except that the music of both seems to take you to a higher place, and there's an intangible feeling of "community" in the crowd. The fans were more attentive, lucid and level-headed than Dead Heads, though there were certainly some "hipping trippies."
The band, Mike Gordon on bass and vocals, Page McConnell on keyboards, John Fishman on drums, and Trey, are extremely skillful, competent and can expertly play styles of rock, jazz, freeform and even bluegrass with dazzling brilliance.
There were constant musical peaks of intensity throughout, and several times, Phish jammed out with precision and sheer speed I've never before witnessed. There was robust dancing in the aisles. For me, the highlight of the first set was an incredible "Split Open And Melt," which included four full minutes of relentless, searing jamming, followed by the peaceful "Dog Faced Boy." The set ended with "Oh Kee Pa Ceremony" which was a bluegrass-with-an-attitude jam followed by the solid, vigorous rocking of "AC/DC Bag."
The second set began with "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (theme from 2001) and the band being in high gear, they continued to pelt us with song after song. There was "Sparkle" and "Sample In A Jar" as well as the Zappa-esque jamming of "Bathtub Gin." Then was a novelty offered at no other concert. Roadies brought out three giant rubber beach balls, passed them around the crowd, and each time they bounced off the hands of an audience member, the band would pluck or hit a dissonant note that made for a neat, abstract jam. How would they get the balls back? After a few minutes, the roadies came back out, joined hands and made a human basket, inviting shots from the audience. The balls made their way back toward the stage, each "basket" receiving thunderous ovations. It was a lot of fun and really showed off the festive spirit of Phish.
The set also contained one of their oldest tunes, "Mike's Song," the Hebrew prayer "Alvenu Malkenu," the current FM-friendly "Down With Disease" and an outrageous, Fishman-led "I Wanna Be Like You" from The Jungle Book. Their trademark trampolines also came out for Mike and Trey (where the Dead would go off for a drum solo, Phish not only kept the jamming pace up, they'd play while bounding up and down on trampolines). Since his leg was out of commission, Trey grabbed a willing participant from the audience and gave him a guitar to air-jam on. The set ended with "Cavern" and a rocked-out, monster version of Zeppelin's "Good Times Bad Times" (with Page doing a great Robert Plant vocal imitation) was the encore to the three hour show.
Phrantic, Phrenzied, Phurious and Pheverish, Phish can jam with the best of 'em, and they try to include the audience in the show. This routine makes for a winning formula, one that will make Phish continue to Phlourish.
Set list- #1) Chalkdust Torture, Glide, Poor heart, Julius, My Friend, Rift, Split Open And Melt, Dog Faced Boy, Oh Kee Pa Ceremony, AC/DC Bag
Set list- #2) Also Sprach Zarathustra, Sample In A Jar, Spackle, Bathtub Gin, Beach Ball Jam, Mike's Song, Ya Mar, Alvenu Malkenu, Down With Disease, I Wanna Be Like You, Cavern. E) Good Times Bad Times (thanks to Steve Harwitz, Wilmington, DE for the list)
RPM Warehouse, Canada
Review by Erik Twight
Well, Iggy's back again, with a new album and a new group, but with his incredible stage act still intact. As a rock singer and performer, few can beat the forty-something year old. After years of intense drug and alcohol abuse, Iggy dried out and has been apparently performing au-naturale since the mid-eighties. He can still sing and he can still out-move rockers half his age.
Unfortunately, Iggy's live act, like his albums, has gotten somewhat too professional for his kind of music. He can still write good songs containing lyrics that aren't moronic or condescending (a rarity these days), but musically his recording style has become rather generic. His band plays slick, well-executed, commercial hard rock reminiscent more of GnR than of the Stooges or the Ig's backing bands of the late seventies and early eighties. This is not to imply Iggy should have stayed on the "Raw Power" course (which he thankfully hasn't), but I find this band seems just too eager to impress without using much originality.
Iggy and company started pretty early (so early that we missed the first few songs), and played about 90 minutes of assorted hits and some new material. The new material was well received, but older songs such as "The Passenger" and "Lust For Life" drew the most applause and participation. The final encore sums up the nineties Iggy: a cleaned-up version of "Louie Louie" with various quasi-political observations. Metallic K.O. this ain't... a drum solo was included, almost as if to remind the audience that this is a "professional rock band," not to be confused with Iggy's sloppy, out-of-control years. If you like the slick Ig (and obviously many do), his act should be seen; if you prefer the looser Iggy, we'll have to wait and see what his next band is like.
Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
April 29, 1994
Review by Steve Devito
After completing their 18th album, Counterparts, and entering their 20th year of rock, Rush played a sold-out Friday night at the Spectrum. The band also performed the next night due to popular demand. The 8:00 show opened with a brand new band from the not so brand new city of Seattle, Washington, Candlebox. The 30 minute set was an anxiety attack for many Rush fans, however the band's fine performance earned the respect of the crowd.
The lights went off at 9:00, and a huge curtain in front of the stage was raised as Rush began their show with the Strauss piece "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (theme music from the motion picture 2001: A Space Odyssey). This worked perfectly for Rush's trademark theater-sized screen which created a futuristic, high-tech aura that would soon embody the Spectrum. The actual set then began with "Dreamline" off of Roll The Bones, introducing the band's solid sound as well as the intricate light show. Bassist Geddy Lee and Percussionist Neil Peart provided perhaps the best bottom in the business as guitarist Alex Lifeson played with convincing execution. They only played five songs from their current Counterpart due to the amount of chronologically varied songs needed to please all of the audience. Such songs as "Spirit Of Radio" and "Closer To The Heart" were played to gain the partial fans attention, along with medleys such as "Xanadu" and "Hemispheres" to please the hardcore following. The theater screen behind the band, pyrotechnics, laser lights, incredible drum solo and even giant inflatable bunnies from the album Presto gave the crowd a very pleasing visual show.
Set list- ) Also Sprach Zarathustra, Dreamline, Spirit Of Radio, Analogue Kid, Time Stand Still, Nobody's Hero, Roll The Bones, Animate, Stick It Out, Double Agent, Limelight, Bravado, Mystic Rhythms, Closer To The Heart, Show Don't Tell, ?, Drum solo extravaganza!, The Trees, Xanadu, Hemispheres, Tom Sawyer. E) YYZ