Barcelona. The mere mention of the city brings images of the Mediterranean coast, the architectural works of Antoni Gaudi, sandy beaches and paella. In the Phish world, it also coaxes memories of a hot (both literally and figuratively) three night run to end the spectacular Europe 98 tour. From the legendary Grey Hall which saw the debut of the Moma Dance, the epic Tweezer>2001, the exploratory Ghost>Jim, to the new(ish) live Phish release of 7/6 at the Lucerna Theatre in Prague, to the cozy confines of Zeleste, a tiny square club on the outskirts of the city. After two nights of World Cup-laced Phish jams in Spain, the stage was set for the tour closer on 7/10/1998.
For anyone who was there, the intense heat and humidity inside the club provided a wet backdrop for what would certainly be an interesting night. This was all supposed to go down at some beach front venue called the Bikini Club, yet with the number of ticket sales, the venue had to be switched to the not-so-unique Zeleste. Boo! Nonetheless, all were ready for what was certainly going to be a blow out affair- no pun intended.
The set opened harmlessly with a Disease, Dogs Stole Things. And then the “blow out” began. WIth the opening riffs of Divided Sky, everyone was amped as the compositional masterpiece hadn’t been dusted off across the pond. Yet, midway through the song, the crackling began. Apparantly, Phish, the musical super-heroes that they are, were having some serious sound issues. Interesting. Aborting the song because the feedback became far too obtrusive, Trey went on to tell some jokes as Languedoc and team worked quickly to ameliorate the situation.
When the band got the go ahead, instead of moving back to Divided Sky, Trey immediately pumped the energy through the roof, slowly beginning the licks to Mike’s Song. Hell, since the band had sound issues and the crowd was already drenched in sweat–might as well come back and throw down. It didn’t happen. Before they even dropped into the jam, similar issues plagued the system, and snap, crackle, and pop– the Mike’s was aborted. Trey was visibly pissed off as he informed the eager crowd that they would have to take a break while this all got worked out, and that they would play up to curfew from the time everything got fixed. Pretty strange happenings, especially coming on the last show of tour after the previous two nights had gone off just fine–same club, same system.
When they reappeared on the stage some thirty minutes later, Mike stepped up to the mic and began the a capella opening to Halley’s Comet, not seen since the 28th of December in Landover, MD. Not many know of this Halley’s, but it’s straight fire. Trey comes right out of the composed section with some “yo-yo” grooves using his 1998 wah-pedal funk. This jam develops into some real candy-grooving, and eventually slides into a driving preview of First Tube, at this point only played with the Eight Foot Fluorescent Tubes in Burlington at Higher Ground on April 17, 1998–the true first incarnation of the Trey band with local musicians Russ, Tony, Russ Lawson on guitar, and Heloise Williams on vocals. Definitely the highlight of the show, this Halley’s chills out nicely into Roggae. Sparkle briefly brought back the speaker demons, but all remained in tact. Upon the ending of Sparkle–take two! The opening riffs of Mike’s jacked the audience’s pulse right back up and featured an extended exploration of Simple, taking the song to places before uncharted.
With a definitively off-kilter show, Phish ended their European vacation and headed back to the states to Portland and the Gorge to begin the legendary summer 98 US tour. The fans dispersed to different night clubs around the city to revel in the couple weeks that had just ensued and to party with all of the new friends made. A strange evening it was .
Below is a link to the eighteen minute Halley’s for your listening pleasure.
07/10/98 Zeleste, Barcelona
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