Phish swung by Le Transbordeur in Lyon, France for a splendid show a few days before the end of their month-long European tour during 1997. On July 9, 1997, Phish mixed their emerging experimental funk sound with heavy rock, silliness, a great setlist, and wonderful musical guests. The day before, the band met a local Häagen-Dazs employee named Pierre. Throughout the show, he’s referenced–often humorously.
PYITE starts the show with a longer intro, typical of a lot of versions from that year. The song leads into an unusually placed Caspian before a blazing Ginseng. Ginseng is a song that I really love because of its ability to highlight Trey’s impressive bluegrassy playing seen in much of the 90’s. Unfortunately, songs like Ginseng and MMGAMOIO lack in 3.0 because of Trey’s decreased finger dexterity.
Split Open and Melt is like a gooey blob that holds the first set to the ground, akin to a glob of solidified deep fryer oil that has fallen atop a sheet of wax paper. The jam is unusual compared to most versions because of the funky beginning and end. While the jam doesn’t take us to any particularly impressive place, the thickness and darkness of it is certainly worth mention.
Set 1: Punch You In the Eye > Prince Caspian, Ginseng Sullivan, Split Open and Melt, Dirt, Taste, Sweet Adeline, Harry Hood
Set 2: Down with Disease > My Soul > Cars Trucks Buses, You Enjoy Myself -> Ghost> Poor Heart
Encore: Hello My Baby
1997 is known for a number of things, of course; funk, Trey’s shirts, Ghost, the fall tour, and Taste. Nothing compares to a Taste from ’97. This show’s rendition is blistering. Trey lifts the whole audience out of the murk that drenched them during Melt. Taste is about as glorious of a summer song as there is–after all, this “Summer Rage Sauce” series is all about getting us pumped for summer tour, right?
Hood closed the first set with some playfulness. To end this impressive version, one that will remind you how Hood should sound, Trey alternates the lyrics by yelling different things after the line, “you can feel good, (I feel) good, good about…”. Among his suggestions are Häagen-Dazs and Pierre.
When the boys take the stage for set two, Trey calls out to Pierre yet again, asking him to hold his hands up and claiming that Häagen-Dazs is the second best ice cream in the world (obviously Ben & Jerry’s is first). The eerie beginning to DwD begins, completely stops, then Mike starts ‘er up. This 12-minute version packs such an unbelievable punch. The entire jam reminds me of the beginning to the DwD jam on 12/11/97 (the part that Bittersweet Motel features while Trey is talking about “cumming”). Trey’s fretwork is stunning in this version, quickly working his wah pedal from time to time for the gritty ’97 blistering rock sound. This version blows doors down.
Without skipping a note, the band launches into an upbeat My Soul for some more blistering guitar work. The tempo for this My Soul is faster than usual, and Trey’s solo is less bluesy, it follows the sound of the earlier DwD more.
Cars Trucks Buses, a song that doesn’t often venture far from it’s composed sound, features some heavy funk overlay from Trey. It’s also appropriate to note Page’s pristine playing in this version–he sounds absolutely fantastic.
The tightly composed structure of CTB tees the band up perfectly for the even tighter composition of the following YEM. This monstrous YEM (over 30 minutes), is the real deal. First off, Trey adds an amazing DwD tease during the composed section of the song. [clip of tease below]
I can’t remember any other versions of YEM that contain a tease within the composition. Going into the jam, Trey jumps in the funky waters quick. He strums familiar chords to get the band in perfect meshing mode. When the band is cocked, locked, and ready to RAWK, Bela Fleck steps in for some bango work. Shortly after, Jeff Coffin joins on sax to get this jam dirty and grimy as can be. This jam gets so raunchy that you can just imagine the sleezy Frenchmen with pencil-thin mustaches fucking on the venue’s floor.
Trey eventually calls Pierre out again before introducing more of the Flecktones. The jam goes in and out of drum/rhythm solos before Victor is introduced for some heavy-hitting playing. With the formal introductions of Jeff Coffin (now no longer a Flecktone) and Bela Fleck, the band jumps into a full jam, including all members of both bands. The ensuing music is some of the most memorable in Phishtory. Often, people are skeptical about guests sitting in a a Phish show, much less an entire band, but the Flecktones and Phish so perfectly meshed on this night. It sounded like they were one single band with one mission: to pornofunk people’s faces. Be sure not to miss the exchanges of licks between Trey and Bela before the segue into Ghost.
It’s not often that Phish will have a guest (or many guests) on stage while segueing into another Phish song. Trey knew the Flecktones could handle it though, they were so obviously on the same page this night.
The segue was long and unorthodox, but they eventually arrived in Ghost after Trey’s audible countdown. I’m not even going to try to explain this Ghost. You’re just going to have to listen. The following Poor Heart is impressive too–the many fake endings make this probably the longest version of the song to date.
Have a nice weekend!!