21 in 21 of 2018: #11 08/03/2018 Verizon Wireless Amphitheater at Encore Park, Alpharett, GA (Myke Menio, @LawnMemo)
The Daily Ghost #164
Background (Set: 1 of 2 – Song: 3 of 10 – Show Gap: 3)
Back by popular demand, I am going old school “The Daily Ghost” super mega breakdown. Real quick I want to give some SERIOUS love to the “Tweezer” and “Carini” from this show. Both are absolutely fantastic pieces of improv. The “Tweezer” squeezes 25 minutes of jamming down in 15 minutes with some incredible distinct sections. The “Carini” is simply an all-timer. The sonic build at the end of the jam is the real deal.
Now, it’s all about the “Ghost”…
Composed Section (0:00-3:30)
So, the show opened “First Tube” and “No Men In No Man’s Land” before “Ghost”. This is not your 2009-2017 first set. “Ghost” emerges with a nice slinky feel to it. The solo section sees a bunch of interplay between Trey and Page, with Page stealing the show. Above average solo section from Page especially.
A nice lead in, and a pretty DAMN good drop!
One of the better ones for sure! Overall, this composed section is decent. Nothing really noteworthy, but solid.
Alpharetta Exploration (3:31-7:16)
Page jumps on the clav for the initial jam. A smooth groove emerges as the band tries to find its footing. At 4:14, Trey lays down a couple of rhythm licks and the jam begins to move downward. Measure by measure you can hear Mike Gordon start to take strength. He may wear lipstick and paint his nails, but Mike is a real badass. He prods into this exploration ever so slightly but you can still feel his presence.
The jam struggles to find a true direction until Trey changes tones and begins leading about 5:30. Page moves to the organ to paint his sonic landscape alternating between haunting and beautiful. The evil eeriness eventually wins out and Mike asserts an evil alligator that backbones this section. This alligator of darkness is the key to moving the jam forward.
Interplay Magic* (*This is not a basketball reference) (7:17-11:36)
If you listen closely, Mike lays down a quick bass line right at the 7:17 mark and Page switches to beautiful raindrops. This is the key first moment of shifting this jam. Take notice of the brilliance of Fishman. NOBODY has a feel for jams quite like our Fishman. Often you can sit there with your jaw dropped listening to all the incredible little fills and beats he sneaks in. In this instance, Fishman feels the jam taking shape. So, he lays back with a beat that is both pushing forward and open ended. He repeats this allowing everyone to find their spot. Fishman’s ability to determine if a jam needs creative fills or a repetitive beat is one of Fish’s true strengths. He reads jams like Trey reads the Nordstrom dress shirt catalog.
Mike Gordon continues to argue with me using his bass to remind me he is not from this Earth. He is playing lead and keeping the rhythm all at the same time. It’s not human. He does this ALL THE TIME now. All the notes he plays in this section shouldn’t work, yet not only to they work, but they are also perfect. It’s like Natalie Dormer. You aren’t quite sure why it works, just that is definitely does.
Gordon is playing at level that just leaves me shaking my head. Multiple times while listening to 2018 Phish improv, I often say to myself, “I just can’t believe how good Mike Gordon is right now.”
Trey finds his mark at 7:46. He plays a softer melody that Page IMMEDIATELY jumps on and harmonizes with. It’s so fucking beautiful. Guitar and piano merge in one beautiful sound and melts my soul. I travel thousands of miles and spend a boatload of money just to hear moments like 30 seconds between 7:46-8:16. In an opus like this incredible “Ghost” there are sections of brilliance that live in my jam memory. When I re-spin a jam, it’s about remembering the things I felt when I first heard it. It’s about rekindling the love. I was sitting here enjoying this jam, and when those 30 seconds hit, I instantly felt my soul transported back in time. My mood has went from “this is nice” to “HELL FUCKING YES!”
This section is just like what any lady gets with me…30 seconds in heaven.
After those 30 seconds, the jam sits in this soft, yet charging space that is quite wonderful. Fishman is finding his game and playing some insane stuff. This space is filled with what makes the current state of Phish great. You can hear each member of Phish perfectly. Every member feels like they are playing lead and rhythm at the same time. I re-listened to this section 10 times focusing on different band members and everyone is absolutely on point. NOBODY does this better than Phish. One sound yet still sounding like four distinct members all at the same time.
Fish slows it down at 11:10 and Page moves to baby grand. Then Page reminds me why he is my favorite musician. The melody he plays from 11:23-11:32 just makes me jump up and scream.
Those nine seconds are more exciting than a nine month pregnancy. Okay, that joke might not be that good.
Another fill from Fish and we switch directions. Let me catch my breath….that’s what she said!
“Echoes” of Phish>Holy Fuckballs This is a Sick Dance Party (11:37-18:08)
Trey throws down a wicked sustain then moves to the tube screamer and has a full on Pink Floyd “Echoes” tone rocking. UM YEAH, I’m a fan!!! Bad ass! I could live in this forever… except…
Phish switches things up quickly and between 12:18-12:30, they play one of the weirdest train wrecking things ever.
It doesn’t make sense. Except….
The 12 second car crash simply allows the next section’s groove to sound more badass. The tension of that car crash is released not by a peak, but by one SICK ASS groove. You can have your peaks…GIVE ME THIS. If you want to know why I wear a helmet at Phish shows, it’s because this is my adrenaline. These moments are when I bust a move and start worrying if I am going to have a heart attack.
In fact, while sitting at my computer I am dancing so hard my cat “Eliza” just ran away scared out of her mind. I would tell her it’s going to be okay, but it’s not going to be. Not until this “Ghost” ends. I might need to check the warranty of this chair. I am worried the manufacturer never tested it for Phish Echoes chair dancing.
I would like to describe this section in three words: Super Fucking Nasty.
That dirty tone makes me feel dirty. And I love feeling DIRTY.
We are 15 minutes in and it’s officially that moment when you know IT’S ON!!!! You can hear the crowd respond and collectively remember that this is the third song! I’ve seen shows worse than the first 15 minutes of this “Ghost”.
Right after the 15 minute mark Trey works in a delay that takes things to even another level. Is there another level higher than Super Fucking Nasty? Of course, Super Duper Fucking Nasty!
As those delays ring out, Mike has switched his bass to a space phaser. He is firing this phaser with deadly precision. Mike Gordon Picard. At times, he sounds like he has 8 arms and 8 phasers though. So, Mike Octopus Gordon Picard.
Keep rewinding this section (is that the term when using a digital copy?). Let it soak in. It’s damn ludicrous. Then laugh at me trying to do it justice.
The Peak (18:09-20:18)
From the Pink Floyd dance party, comes an ultra quick move into a building peak. Trey takes charge quickly and plays some of his more impressive runs. Trey fingers don’t move that quickly, that often, and the band rewards with him by continuing to push harder
At 19:40 Page is losing his damn mind. It sounds like he is hitting his baby grand with a friggin anvil.
There might not be a single “Holy crap this is the greatest peak of all time” moment but for two minutes this baby purrs. There is sustained exhilaration. I can’t imagine performing for two minutes this intense.
Return to the Composed Section (20:19-22:27)
At 20:19 the peak ends and we return to the composed section and finish with 90 seconds of the crowd going nuts.
Again this was the third song of the show! This “Ghost” is simply awesome. Showcasing each band member, and often at the same time, this “Ghost” is among the best of this era. In fact it might be somewhere in the top 20 all time. You can easily make the case it’s the best “Ghost” of this era. I still probably prefer 11/28/2009 Albany version but not by much. There are certainly some other great versions post-breakup that have claims to the second place throne as well. Still….any way you slice it, this “Ghost” is unique, has top notch interplay, throws down a nasty Pink Floyd dance party, plus a damn nice peak. What else can you ask for? The Alpharetta “Ghost” will live in legend.