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Published: 2006/10/23
by Dan Alford

Mind Left Bowie Jam

Quick Picks:
1) Planet Drum, 9/22/06- Inspired music
2) SKB, 10/22/05- A great line-up that will hopefully resurface
3) Tabla Beat Science, Live from San Francisco- Laswell and Zakir beats
4) Coltrane, The European Concerts, Disc 3
5) Ravi Shankar, Live at Monterey – Afternoon listening

6/18/94 Bowie

After a tight Peaches lead in, Fish gives maybe three cymbal hits to declare Bowie and Trey and Page slip gloriously into a full blown Mind Left Body jam- its bright and clean, swelling up for a minute or two before Fishs cymbals re-exert their guidance. A heavy throb develops while Trey squiggles about- it all hangs for just a moment and the quartet jumps into Bowie. The meat of the song starts with a vague Three Blind Mice idea that immediately goes pretty and looks back to the GD jam. The music lurches and is simultaneously aggressive and cartoonish at Treys behest, though Page slides in and out as a lead. A swirl builds and the foursome runs at the final jam without further thought. The rest of this show is great too- Page shines throughout.

12/29/94 Bowie

The grandfather of Bowies opens with a swirl and throb bedrock on which Page dances fancifully, Mike blurbing up here and there before Fish makes the songs identity clear. The mammoth jam starts off plodding with a menacing tone, Mike setting the mood and Page periodically coloring in the details. Eventually the music puffs itself into a lumbering loom that staggers darkly. Trey pulls it together for a moment, but Page clears the way back towards Bowie with a brief opening, his band mates following furiously, but at eighteen minutes, theyre only half way there.

The music dislocates again, growing quiet and Phishy- Page trills beautifully like a Coil solo. Trey rides in with rhythm and the band takes flight- a glorious Hood jam (a great Hood the following night, by the way) as bright and satisfying as anything played that year. When it runs its course, whistling opens the wonderfully inspired and twisted Lassie call vocal jam. Now. Now. Now. Do it now. The ensuing jam is pure Bowie, running at full speed with Trey surfing through the middle as if hes stored up all the preceding energy for this climax. A classic.

5/3/93 Set II
In digging through early 90s shows, I realized just how important setlists really are. In the later years, I generally walked away from a concert with individual songs or suites in mind, but in those early years prime shows were dictated by the long view of the ebb and flow. There wasnt too much variation, night to night, in most songs, but a particular string of songs could be as much of a rollercoaster as a 98 Ghost or a 97 Wolfmans Brother. The opener from 3/14/92 jumps to mind- Jim > Cavern > Reba- all are spotless, but the buzz comes from the trajectory, not from any individual song. (Of course that gig does have favorite versions of Hood and Split Open and Melt too, plus a great encore with John Popper, so the theory only holds so much Phish Water- although I think it is especially true for WSP).

Another standout run of sounds comes from the New Brunswick, NJ show on 5/2/93, just before the epic two night stand at the Palace in Albany. The second set opens with ACDC Bag > Curtain > Tweezer > Manteca > Tweezer > Contact. The first pair is pleasing enough on its own, the Curtains opening trill drawing up a big punch from the ACDC afterglow. Tweezer, one of those tunes that really is unique night to night, opens almost immediately in a I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet jam from Trey that he just keeps digging on. The music is up beat and hoppin, and while the shade of shadows is lingering on the outskirts, in the end it sounds more like a 96 DWD than a Tweezer. The band pops into Manteca, vocals and all, and then dives down into a much more Tweezer-style jam, Mike really shining through. The goofy Contact that closes the suite is a fun, light breeze that, like the Curtain, draws on the previous tune.

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