(The clip that is streaming is a SBD from Hampton/Winston Salem. The version linked for download is an AUD that I have stitched together from the spreadsheet. If you would like to buy the download the official release, it is available here 11/21/97 LivePhish)
Background (Ghost Position: Set 2 – (opener) Song 1 of 4)
So how do you follow Denver Ghost? After skipping only the Illinois show, Ghost turns up in the second set of the legendary Hampton run. Leading off another of my favorite sets (4 songs!) this is another standout version. One of the reasons I decided to do this project, was to show the changes from version to version. After the madness in Denver, this is a completely different animal. I have included the entire 25 minute AC/DC Bag for two reasons. One, the segue is killer. Two, this Bag is one of the best.
Composed Section (0:00-2:52)
A good start up, and a great way to begin a set! The tempo is very upbeat. You can tell the energy created in that great first set has spilled into this set opening Ghost. Page takes a second to gather himself in the solo and gets really funky. Gordon comes in slapping as usual, and the solo section ends with a great Fishman fill. A shorter than average pause…and what’s this??? Another pretty damn good drop in!! Two is a row? This has to be Fall ’97…
Smooth Set Opener (2:53-5:05)
A couple of sectioned off measures, like the previous versions, start this jam. Gordon has a monster sound going on right away. Fishman has a nice easy beat going. Trey starts to lay some funk riffs, while Page is throwing some thickness into the mix. It is a smooth groove right from the start. They find it right away and never look back. It is a balanced groove with everyone complimenting each other extremely well. Gordon might get the most attention from my ear, especially at the 4:05 mark.
Deep Rich Bass Funk (5:06-6:24)
At the 5:06 mark, Fish lights up the room with a great fill and the funk is about to be unleashed. Cactus finds an enormous deep sound with his bass that is pure Earth shattering power. Not sure if you need license to carry something like that, but in the hands of Cactus…I feel plenty safe. Page is sprinkling great notes on top of the BEOW BEOW BEOW. Trey is playing those echoing ’97 funk riffs that pair so great with Fish’s cymbal work.
At 6:07 Fish does some quick high-hat work, and after a few last monster BEOWS from Mike the jam fades to the distance….
Snorkeling in the Coral Reef (6:25-9:37)
Starting around 6:25 we hear Trey send out some whale call delays as the jam starts to fade into nothing. It quickly reaches a very minimal state. This is such a contrast from the previous minute of monster bass funk. The whale calls ring out and start to loop. Awesome stuff. I picture being left out at sea where it is so quiet and nothing is around you. Alone, with your thoughts, and maybe a couple of sea animals swim by you. After a bit of hanging out, it is time for a swim…
At the 7:13 mark Trey starts to solo over the emptiness. The last Ghost took me on a cloud ride, this one takes me into the ocean. I picture myself snorkeling through the Coral Reef. Mike’s sounds starting at 7:30, have a cool bubbly sound to them, which makes me think of this water analogy. Trey’s guitar loops are like sonar rushing by my head. Fish’s beat is the pace at which I take each stroke while snorkeling.
At 8:10 Page provides the last piece of beauty to this swim. He brings in his soul moving piano to provide the sounds of splashing Phish in the sea. 8:10-9:37 is pure blissful Phish. Beautiful stuff here!
Swimming back up (9:38-12:18)
At 9:38 Mike’s bass starts to lead the way back up to the surface. He starts to lay into some quick notes and Trey jumps on board. Towards the end of the previous section it was much more of a blissful,easy tone. The pace in this section is much quicker and everyone is playing more notes. It certainly makes me feel as if I am in more of the frantic swim back to the surface.
Although the pace is a bit more frantic, there is still plenty of beauty to be found. Starting at 10:40 Page plays quite a beautiful section, then Trey answers with some great notes as well. There is an assortment of playing coming from Trey. Riffs, notes that ring out, he is all over the pace. Page’s beauty is constant. From 10:40-12:18 Leo really knocks it out of the park.
Beach Dance Party (12:18-14:45)
At 12:18 Trey starts to play a lick very quickly and you can feel the jam changing. The band doesn’t jump on board to the quicker pace right away. Actually, quite the opposite happens as they take the jam down further. Trey continues to play some fantastic licks, while the band provides him with some cool support.
The sounds in this section are great. You have a spaced out funk feel from everyone but Trey. Trey is in total lead position and his playing is dynamite. At 13:50 Mike throws down a nasty bass line that Trey immediately rolls with. Then at 14:05 Trey takes it up another notch. While Gordon continues to play the bass line he just established, Trey plays a super cool lick over the top of it.
And just when it feels like the jam might be building toward a peak…. at 14:43 you can hear Trey say something, and then BOOM >AC/DC Bag comes almost out of nowhere. I dig this segue! If you haven’t for some reason heard this Bag make sure you let this sucker play. MONSTER!
I enjoy this Ghost for a couple of reasons. I love the contrast of this Ghost with the massive Ghost from Denver. Where Denver was crazy and perfectly flowing Ghost, Hampton’s is much different. Hampton Ghost explores a lot more and really goes in a lot of different directions. I absolutely love the first 10 minutes, and the minimal bliss style is simply gorgeous. Although still great, this Ghost just doesn’t find that special magic to earn the highest marks. Bonus points for the great uniqueness of the Hampton ’97 Ghost.