After their first night in Prague, Phish came out with a purpose. Opening Europe ’98 with a phenomenal three-night run at The Grey Hall in Copenhagen, the band stopped at the Midtfyns Festival in Denmark before shifting the scene to Eastern Europe. Descending upon the culturally revitalized city of Prague provided a completely divergent different vibe after spending a stint in Scandinavia, particularly with a great exchange rate and the popular, psychoactive alcohol, Absinthe. Carrying a certain lucidity to its bacchanalian buzz, Absinthe knocked more than a few American fans on their heads with its particularly high proof and disorienting feel. Rumors surfaced after the fact, that Absinthe had been the very same spirit that knocked the band off their game in a forgettable opening night on July 5th. Within the intimate and elaborate Lucerna Theatre, Phish stumbled through a show that seemed horribly out of place, especially considering their last seven outings comprised the Island Run and Christiania.
So as the band emerged for their second and final night in Prague, they had something to prove. Throwing down from note one, the show sprinted out of the gates with “Buried Alive > AC/ BAG,” and never broke stride , flowing right into a show highlight,”Ghost > Cities.” The band gathered a colossal head of steam as Trey annihilated the third song of the show, a feat made famous by a You Tube clip over the years (found below.) Playing with an intensity and an urgency that simply lacked the previous night, Phish locked in right away, crafting a stellar opening frame. After a full-speed transition into “Cities,” Phish dropped from the upbeat tempo into half-time following the opening verse, creating the gooey textures that had come to define the song. This opening sequence clearly illustrated the band’s intent, seeking to seriously throw down to make up for a cloudy effort the night before. And they most certainly succeeded. The first set continued with captivating versions of “Limb” and “Maze” before “Golgi” brought the show to setbreak.
Phish played a blistering second frame, highlighted by an extended, twenty-minute “Piper” long before they were the norm. This high-speed, multi-faceted chase showcased the band’s single-mindedness on this night, collectively breaking new ground within this torrid version. Eventually moving into murkier realms, this jaunt didn’t remain cranked up the entire time, but offered an eerie-turned-lounge-funk final segment.Winding into “Makisupa,” the energy in the room dripped from the theatre’s gilded decor, as everyone felt the feeling of what had just transpired. A smoking “Bowie” capped the nights explorations before “Loving Cup” closed the set.
Walking from Lucerna to F/X – a multi-room night club that hosted the post-show party for band and fans alike – we spoke of the night and day experiences of the past two nights. The show that has just gone down carried a certain energy and intensity throughout, crafting a different type of standout show than we’d seen up north. This night had been full-throttle Phish, and everyone knew it. As we partied through the night until a morning train departed for a cross-continental trek to Barcelona, the band had righted their ship after a brief, “culturally-induced” fumble. And as we headed for sunshine, despite the overnight journey, spirits soared as European vacation rolled on.
Jama of the Day: 7.6.98 Prague, CZ
This segment stoked an early fire in Prague’s standout show. “Ghost” featured a ridiculous shred-session from Big Red; check out the video below.
In my opinion, the most impressive jam of the show.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
7.6.98 Lucerna, Prague, CZ < Torrent
7.6.98 Lucerna, Prague, CZ < Megaup
Probably the most impressive show of Europe ’98 that didn’t take place in The Grey Hall.
I: Buried Alive > AC/DC Bag, Ghost > Cities, Limb By Limb, Train Song, Roggae, Maze, Golgi Apparatus
II: Julius, Meat, Piper > Makisupa Policeman, David Bowie, Loving Cup
Source: Schoeps MK4 (FOB; mics in a hat) > VMS IO2b > DA P1
“Ghost” Jam 7.6.98 I