May is laced with the first hints of summer; the buds are blossoming, the weather starts getting warmer, and summer tour is on everyone’s mind. May isn’t the most popular month for Phish to play shows, but there are still a decent amount to choose from. The handful of concerts Phish played in May of 1993 is some of my favorite playing by them.
While TAB has played many shows at The Palace in Albany, NY before, Phish has only played there twice–both during a two-night stand on 5/5 and 5/6 in 1993. Phish was on a hot-streak entering the month of May in ’93, 5/8/93 is probably one of my all-time favorite shows in fact. The first half of the two-nighter in Albany featured intensity that’s hard to match. This show contained everything ’93 embodied for the band: silliness, experimental improv, segues, awesome setlists, and unreal guitar. Luckily the recording at the bottom of this post is a crispy soundboard!
Set 1: Rift, Guelah Papyrus, Foam, Sparkle, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, It’s Ice > Glide > Maze, Golgi Apparatus
Set 2: Runaway Jim -> My Friend, My Friend -> Manteca -> My Friend, My Friend, Poor Heart > Weigh > Big Ball Jam > Ya Mar, You Enjoy Myself -> Jam
Encore: Amazing Grace, Cavern > Take the ‘A’ Train > Cavern
After tightly played versions of Rift and Guelah Papyrus, Phish dive into one of their favorite 3-spot songs, Foam. As a lot of you know, I’m a huge fan of early Foams. The jam often retains a pristine sort of sound that is hard to duplicate in other Phish tunes. Page’s playing in the first half of the jam is phenomenal–as he often does in this song, his ivories lift you up to a new place upon listening. By the time Trey chimes in for his part, you’re already teed up to be knocked down the fairway. Trey starts his part real quiet in this version. Eventually he snaps into a beautiful climax before the song ends. This rendition benefited much from the quality of the recording.
Although I think the Stash from a few nights later on 5/8 takes the cake, this 13 minute journey doesn’t disappoint. Right out of the gates the tension starts. Trey goes into a trance of controlled chaos. His tension almost hits a plateau during the first half of the jam where he’s in the zone. Mike starts coming in to take a new lead with a ridiculous melody–giving Trey something to jump onto. Trey slips out of his trance and meshes with Mike for a while before creating more tension before the expected peaks. Real interesting version.
Page added two obscure teases during the Ice > Glide > Maze segment; he added Pop Goes the Weasel during It’s Ice and Mission: Impossible during Maze. Trey crushes this Maze. The notes flew out of his guitar like Chuck Norris wielding six Uzis.
The second set contains two totally-unexpected song sandwiches, the first being MFMF -> Manteca -> MFMF. This would actually be the second time Phish played Manteca in as many shows–they played it during Tweezer on 5/3 in New Jersey. During the chaotic ending of MFMF, the band rocks right into Manteca before ending the original song.
Trey abruptly interrupts the beginning of Ya Mar to say he’s playing it for his then-girlfriend, Sue, continuing that he loves her. Shortly after Ya Mar, YEM comes out to play. I’m just realizing now that this is the second Friday Rage Sauce in a row that which contains a YEM with guests. (Last week’s was 7/9/97 with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones). This is another 32+ minute version with no vocal jam. This, also like last weeks, features some super original and impressive jamming. The Aquarium Rescue unit came out partway into the jam–this isn’t one of those sit-ins that is a drag on the playing; all the people on stage worked real well together, Fish even moved to the vacuum for a bit of it during a particularly spacey segment. Soon, the Dude of Life joins for some lyrical playfulness. The jam ends with heavy drums and screaming guitar. There’s no vocal jam, the show just ends.
The encore is equally as interesting. After the mic-less Amazing Grace, the band starts Cavern. Soon, Page does a lick from Take the A-Train, everyone’s quiet, Page does it again and boom–the whole band jumps into the Duke Ellington standard and plays it completely before Trey jumps back into the Cavern lyrics–unexpected, awesome stuff indeed. This would be the 3rd-to-last time Phish played this ever. The last time the song was played was at the Beacon Theater on 4/13/1994.