With another summer tour looming the “Phab Phour” from Vermont have whet the appetites of their fan base by unleashing another monstrous concert box-set. The band continues their string of excellent archival releases with the newest addition to their ever-expanding live catalogue; an 8-disc collection presenting three incendiary shows performed at the Paradiso in the Netherlands during their heralded 1997 European tours, which for all intents and purposes will be called Amsterdam ’97.
Let's face it; Phish could do no wrong in 1997. Most fans consider the tours of that year to be the finest of their storied career. During that time they performed with unbridled fervor, and their experimentation was off the charts. The group was so multi-dimensional in their approach to concerts that few years before then really had that feeling that fans could show up and truly expect the unexpected on any given night.
Examples of this are peppered all over Amsterdam ‘97. Fans were treated to song debuts, like the first ever cover of Bob Marley’s “Soul Shakedown Party” that opened the night from February 17th, as well as the newborn “Carini” which was birthed in the middle of set two. Their minds were blown on songs that lasted over twenty minutes, like the “Ghost” and “Cities” jams performed during their July 1st visit to the venue. The audience experienced bizarre yet comedic references to “killer worms” in and out of the July performances, which showed the band’s ever present knack for waving their geek flag. To complete the run folks were stunned by a double encore of a frenetic “Free” and a bombastic “David Bowie”.
Other highlights from this run included a supremely funky rendition of “Weekapaug Groove”, an ethereal thirty-minute ride through “Stash”, the beautifully covered JJ Cale tune “Ain’t Love Funny”, and two perfect examples of how great those ’97 “Bathtub Gin” jams would slowly soar high before landing right back where they started.
The recordings heard on Amsterdam ‘97 are pristine and wonderfully mastered thanks to the work of Paul Languedoc/Jon Altschiller/Fred Kevorkian, and every part of the package is adorned with beautiful artwork by famed artist Jim Pollock. Thankfully Phish have delivered this fantastic release so everyone can relive the magic of the band from this compelling era.