Phish: Niagara Falls (2013)
Thus, Phish played their way self-assuredly toward New Year's at Madison Square Garden, warming up via the bluegrassy "The Old Home Place" and further stretching their collective musical muscles with "The Curtain." Songs already familiar to the groups followers, such as "AC/DC Bag," functioned as gear- shifting toward more open-ended improvisational pieces like the exquisitely mellifluous "Slave to the Traffic Light" and "Possum" that remain staples of the quartet's repertoire today.
And for good reason: linked by compact numbers such as "Bouncing Around the Room," Phish paced themselves on stage in such a way that they maximized the dynamics of the concert and retained the attention span of the audience. Why else tease Iron Butterfly's FM radio classic "In A Gadda Da Vida" during "Split Open and Melt" if not to test their own openness to the spontaneity of the moment as well as the attendees' musical acuity? The light touch and intricacy of their interaction on "Reba" are the stuff of their contemporary legend and rightly so, while the ultimately ferocious ambience of the digital loop jam at the end of "Weekapaug Groove," abbreviated as it is, stands as a harbinger of the 'Island Tour' of spring 1998.
Enclosed in pastel green graphics, the partially-glossy segments of which provide a contrast that makes the overall design more vivid, this triple-fold digi-pak of discs includes a double- sided single-sheet of credits as well as coupons allowing download of video from this performance officially unavailable elsewhere (as well as this full release in mp3 format). These enclosures augment the remastering of the complete two-set performance and the bonus inclusion of a slow version of "Poor Heart" from the soundcheck that further reaffirms the vigorous and justified confidence Phish felt at this juncture of their career.
Thus, Niagara Falls is fully in keeping with the personalized (and deceptively professional) means by which Phish has, throughout its history and in a decidedly reciprocal relationship with its followers, offered varied modes of music to dote onand worthily so.
Track Listing: CD 1: The Old Home Place > The Curtain > AC/DC Bag, Demand > Rift; Slave to the Traffic Light; Guyute; Bouncing Around the Room; Possum; Hello My Baby. CD 2: Split Open and Melt, Strange Design > Taste That Surrounds; Reba; Julius; Sleeping Monkey > Sparkle > Mike's Song -> Weekapaug Groove -> Digital Delay Loop Jam; Amazing Grace; Uncle Pen. (soundcheck "Poor Heart").
Personnel: Trey Anastasio: vocals, guitar; Mike Gordon: bass, vocals; Page McConnell: keyboards, vocals; Jon Fishman: drums, vocals.
Record Label: Jemp Records