A Record of History

Niagara Falls 12/7/95

Niagara Falls 12/7/95

With all of the hubbub surrounding Fall Tour, Phish’s release of their December ‘95 stop at Niagara Falls Convention Center flew way under my radar. I just recently listened to the discs for the first time and I must say, it’s another winner in a recent hot streak of Live Phish drops. This show—a classic even within a classic month—had been begging for the re-master treatment for years, and this shimmering two-setter has finally gotten its due. What a treat it is to get a Live Phish release from such a hallowed era in band history. Much like Hampton/Winston-Salem provided a glimpse into Fall ’97, and Ventura opened a portal to Summers ’97 and ’98, Niagara Falls brings us back in time to December ’95, the home stretch of legendary two-leg, 54-show fall tour on which the band truly realized all the skills they had been honing for years.

Having stretched the limits of abstraction over the courses of Fall ’94 and Summer ’95, Phish spent the fall of ’95 selecting the best elements of this growth spurt and tightening things up into a full-throttle, psychedelic arena rock show. In a matter of weeks following Niagara Falls, the band would play a career-defining show at Madison Square Garden, but on this night on the other side of New York State, Phish cemented another golden block in their yellow brick road of December.

imgresThough this show isn’t a masterpiece of set craftsmasnship, it contains elite, jaw-dropping versions of “Slave to the Traffic Light,” “Split Open and Melt,” “Reba,” “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug.” Additionally the we hear an early incarnation of “Taste” in the second set, at this point called “Taste That Surrounds.” Phish showcased their free form creativity of the era throughout this show, as they dove deep into second-set versions of “Split,” “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug,” taking each jam far off course and forming tour highlights out all three. A “Reba” that sounds like it’s in fast-forward compared to recent versions highlights the middle of this second set, as Trey’s comically confident and exceptionally emotive soloing evokes the sound and intensity of days gone by—a true gem that is often overshadowed by Niagara’s copious highlights.

Retro Niagara Print (Welker)

Retro Niagara Print (Welker)

The first set features an out-of-nowhere version of “Slave” that sounds like it’s plucked from the end of a hugely dramatic frame of music. Unfurled in between “Rift” and “Guyute,” this standout version—which sits in an incredibly delicate space for quite some time—could anchor the opening half all by itself. However, a unique “Curtain > Bag,” a bust out of “Demand” and a full-throttle “Possum” provide solid support.

In short, this Niagara Falls release provides a stellar portrait of Phish’s sound and jamming in one of the most historic months of their career. The band brought all sorts of furious jams to Niagara Falls that December night, though they delivered them within a less-than-artistic setlist. But when Phish drops so many Grade-A excursions on a single audience, how they unfold becomes largely irrelevant. This one is a keeper.


Niagara Falls CD Giveaway!

Hippie Santa

Hippie Santa

Just in time for Christmas, and thanks to the kind folks at Phish Inc., I have three copies of this release to give away! If you’d like to enter your name into the ring, please write a haiku that touches the essence of December ’95. I will pick my favorite 10 entries (and post them), put the names in a hat and draw the three winners. Please have your haikus in to mrminer@phishthoughts.com by 7:30 pm Tuesday (tomorrow) night! Thanks for playing and Happy Holidays from Phishthoughts.com!


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500 Responses to “A Record of History”

  1. Jerome Garcia Says:

    SPAC2 Set II w/ Tweezer > Sand > Carini is a $$$ little segment. Solid Bingos. Just brightened my day. However Miner said ‘most laymen versions of “Tweezer” and “Sand” one will ever hear.’ Damn. Well fun spinning at the desk; got my head bobbin.

    Based on that Dicks is done and this is the last year at MSG.

    ^fudge. I’m w/ MiA. Perhaps that bodes well for a TX run in ’14. Ha! Just kidding. We know Phish Inc doesn’t dig the Lonestar State aside from ACL Festie Phish which really doesn’t count anyway.

    Got it sumo. Noted. Dicks out for Laborious Day wknd.

  2. sumodie Says:

    25k? Under 25k and freedom. My two wishes for 2014. Lol /not lol

  3. dorn76 Says:

    Jamaica. Yes.

    That’s an Island Tour.

  4. Brostafarian Says:

    True Sumo. Freedom!

  5. Gavinsdad Says:

    Mixing up the roadtrips approach:

    09 gorge
    10 Raleigh>mind baby jam>Charlotte
    11 UIC
    12 bill graham
    13 dicks

    The pheesh ha been berry goot ta me. (Not even including all the AC love -three 3 packs in 3.0 in my back yard)

  6. Gavinsdad Says:

    Mixing up the roadtrips approach:

    09 gorge
    10 Raleigh>mind baby jam>Charlotte
    11 UIC
    12 bill graham
    13 dicks

    The pheesh ha been berry goot ta me. (Not even including all the AC love -three 3 packs in 3.0 in my back yard)

  7. willowed Says:

    Hey boys and girls. I’m only doing 12/28 and 12/30 this year.

    I am dumping my 12/29 ticket. E-mail me if you need it.

    Solid seat it looks like. Section 3, Row 2

    jonathan dot bailey @ quinnipiac dot edu

  8. Gavinsdad Says:

    Flogging. Sorry gents.

  9. Brostafarian Says:

    ’98 Barcelona Gin. Fantastic.

  10. Gavinsdad Says:

    Thanks Willowed. Hope to see u one of those days, if only for a pint. I’m only getting one and don’t know which. But I think I’m going the barstool seat route.

  11. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    only hitting up 12/30 this year and i may not be able to stay the night (little one at grandparents)- philly folks, is it possible to catch a train from msg back to philly after the show. or do i need to have a car in trenton?

  12. sumodie Says:

    Willowed, do you know if that is an aisle seat?

  13. willowed Says:

    Gdad. Are you favoring one date over another?

    I’m doing the 28th with Jdub. Got a hotel somewhere.

    The 30th will be fun too. Bringing the wife to get down in the city. She can’t wait to see you cats again. Staying over that night as well.

  14. Brostafarian Says:

    I don’t care if they come to Texas. Do Europe!!!

  15. willowed Says:

    Row 2 seat 5 sumo.

  16. willowed Says:

    I assume it is not.

  17. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Well Europe does not fit w/in the somewhere I don’t have to get on a plane or drive 20 yrs to see them. But those constraints probably just apply to the continental US.

    Best ballpark estimate for cost of airfare lodging shows accoutrements etc for a Phish Europe tour? Not necessary to factor in flucations in currency exchange rates.

  18. hoedown Says:

    29th and 30th for my better half and myself. Doing the train in from Jersey hotel dealie. Keep us in the loop for preshow pints. Planning on spending a hour or two chilling in Bryant Park as well. Also planning to take a ride up the wooden escalator to the top floor of Macy’s, accompanied with the vehicle of course. It has become a preshow tradition to test out all the fine leather couch’s on the top floor of Macy’s with a head full. Always makes for some good laughs and preshow energy.

  19. dorn76 Says:

    Cypress After Midnight.

    Because it’s bright, sunny and 10:50 AM.

  20. sumodie Says:

    Brosta, not surprisingly, this is the only place I crack jokes about my southern gothic soap opera. Still have tingly nerve damage in my wrists, a minor issue yet also a constant reminder. I’ve come to realize that weekend was a perfect storm of events for me; the opera wasn’t precipitated by a single event. Ah well

    Phish! NYC! NYE!

  21. Kaveh Says:

    Just listened to the Aaron Rodgers show from yesterday; and he said that he has been to a Phish show. Interesting….

  22. dorn76 Says:

    @heady, you can def get on an Amtrak at like 3:00AM in Penn Station.

    Not sure about NJ Transit/SEPTA…

  23. bob dylan Says:

    Gdad can pick em. Nicely done dude.

    Hoping for your freedom sumo! I can’t imagine the stress of it all.

  24. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    @dorn- thanks for the information. i just did some research and found the same info. amtrak 3:00 am; nj transit/septa stop running way early. i have a cousin in manhattan, i may ask him if he and his girl would babysit for the night. that way we can enjoy nyc as family the next day and not have rush to get back to philly. it will all work out…

  25. Gavinsdad Says:

    What Dorn said @Heady. There are late trains, both Amtrak (to Phillys 30th st station) and NJ transit (to Trenton) but u have to check schedules. There is generally a gap between the midnite train and the next one (between 3/4 am).

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