Background (Ghost Position: Set 2 – Song 4 of 5)
After opening the set in Hampton, Ghost moves almost to the end of Set 2 in Worcester. The Denver Ghost and the Hampton Ghost are two completely different versions… Worcester would be a third. Included is the segue into Johnny B. Goode that closes the set.
Composed Section (0:00-2:56)
The start is a bit rocky at first. Fishman has picked up the tempo a bit during the intro. Page gets down and funky in the solo section, extra crunchy. The pause is a bit longer than normal…wait for it…..wait for it…3 (that is 1,2,3) drop ins in a row that were nailed. What is happening??? This tour rules! They get a bit crazy with the vocals at the end of the section before the jam begins.
Super Ghost Cow Funk (2:57-7:27)
The funk begins from the first note of the jam. Gordon is laying down a filthy funk bass line. Fishman is murdering some fills that lead to this early part of the jam feeling extra “funkdafied”. Get out the straight-jacket… LawnMemo is dancing like a crazy person right from the start.
At 3:33 Page plays a cool melody that meshes well with the funk. At 3:49 Trey plays a very simple funk riff, which pushes Mike to slap his bass into oblivion. We are officially knee deep in Fall ’97 Cow Funk. At about the 4:00 min mark Gordon is simply on another level. Everyone else is providing great space for the Cactus. Give him the ball and look out…
Trey, Page, and Mike are all locking down their individual parts and not pushing things. It allows Gordon the freedom to destroy “the hot as balls” Centrum Centre. It is safe to say, not many people are in line to the legendary Centrum bathroom right now. If they are…you can still probably hear the bass destruction Gordon is throwing down. Although Cactus is clearly driving this beast, the band is locked in. Everyone is really doing their part and has created a great space to work in. Without any of the other three, Gordon’s bass dismantling would not be possible. The balance of the sound coming from the other three band members, is what allows Gordon’s sound to jump into your soul.
At 4:29 Fishman makes some crazy scream noise. At 4:52 the crowd roars with their approval. This venue makes magic and this Ghost is no exception. At 4:54 Trey sends out some loops that bounce around the entire arena. This just adds to the sounds jumping from Mike’s bass. The loops are placed perfectly by Trey and they sound amazing. Shortly after the loops are unleashed, Page gets extra funky as well. He starts ripping into the clav and really pushing things. PURE FULL BAND FUNK!
At 6:30 Mike picks it up and lays down a fast paced bass line. Fish picks it up a bit also, and the tempo to this ultra dance party is even more frantic. Someone get me some water!!! Damn! In my opinion this is the finest “Ghost Funk” we have seen.
LawnMemo’s Heart start/stop (Wait I mean start/stop jam) (7:28-11:30)
After the monster cow funk, the jam looks like it will slow down by the 7:30 mark. At the 7:30 mark Mike almost teases Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Couldn’t Stand the Weather”. Not quite but super cool.
At 7:45 you can hear the jam basically stop. Then Trey starts to play a lick that many of you will probably compare with the Dayton Tube that would show up later in the tour. At 8:00 Mike’s drops the fight bell and things get even more funkier than before. Page and Mike are really getting into it.
Another stop at 8:20 with Trey playing those famous funk licks. At 8:35 Mike flips every table in his path and comes roaring in. At 8:54 Trey kicks it into high gear and this jam is now a monster eating everything it can!!!
No way?!?! Another stop at 9:09!! Well we can’t take it down from here right?? No F’ing way!!! At 9:27 Victor Wooten and Neil Peart come exploding back to the jam. What the hell is going on?? Am I supposed to call everyone I know and tell them I love them right now? Is the world ending? How the hell do you really say Worcester anyways!!!
Oh no…oh no…at 9:43 Trey says “F this” and comes tearing into this insanity. Page also moves to the piano at exactly the same time. I’ll be right back I need to take a blood pressure pill. Where we saw more of a laid back Trey during the Hampton Ghost, a different version of him has entered the Centrum. This Trey has guns, big, bad ass guns. Machine gun Trey enters the jam and just blows the roof off this place.
Let me not forget the fact that Gordon and Fishman are destroying what is left of their instruments. With the full band throttle that is going on, Page’s piano is perfect!!! This is as good as it gets. I promise NOBODY is in line for the bathroom now. In fact that bathroom has been blown up.
At 10:52…they…stop….again….it can’t be. I can’t take this…someone is going to have to carry me away from my laptop in a wheelchair after this review. The crowd blows up at 10:55. Sure enough at 10:57 Trey picks it up another notch even though I didn’t think there was another notch. He comes taring into a solo and then peaks this Ghost with pure, all out fury.
It doesn’t get much better than 7:28-11:30. That is a gear not many bands on the planet have ever seen.
Time to Give me CPR (11:31-14:35)
After the insane start/stop Earth destruction, it is time for Phish to revive my heart that stopped in the previous section. They bring the jam wayyyyyyy down. Gordon is hitting some fight bells while sending out some gooey rain drop sounds. Another perfect example of Fall ’97 here in this section, with very minimalist playing by everyone. Everything is quiet, yet each note rings so loudly.
I love when Phish peaks with such power, rather than just ending things there, they let the air out slowly. It makes the jam feel like an entire emotional experience, rather than just pure jubilation.
This breakdown section is super cool. They find a great groove and even do a bit of exploring. Fish locks down the beat so everyone is free to see what they can come up with.
A Little Bit Louder now…WAIT NOT AGAIN!!!(14:35-18:43)
At 14:35 Mike plays that crazy pitched high sound, and starts to get crazy with it. He starts to play it very slowly then a bit louder each time. Trey finally joins in and starts to play louder at 15:15. At 15:25 Page starts to get louder with his crazy carnival sound. Super cool build!
At 15:53 Page gets on the piano and starts to add that to the build. Things start to really pick up from there. Trey starts to play more notes and the small hairs on my body start to tingle. I can feel it happening…
At 16:27 Fish comes banging through the door and we are kicking ass again. Trey rips a solo, Page hammers piano chords, Mike gets back to the deep bass. Peak number 2 is here!!! By the time 16:27 hits, everyone is bringing it.
The breakdown after the start/stop helps this second peak to absolutely erupt. It is pure face melting stuff right here. Trey does the opposite of open this sucker. HE CLOSES with a fury. Gordon and Fish are no slouches either, ripping everything to shreds. This easily could have closed the set….but wait….
At 18:43 the Jam stops on a dime and Phish channels their inner Marty McFly and rip Johnny B. Goode. Cool Segue, KILLER Finish to a set.
Can someone please tell me why this Ghost doesn’t get talked about among the all time great versions? It is incredible. The problem with scoring Ghosts and comparing them, is that every one of them is so different than the other. (A big reason I love the song) So what is Worcester Ghost all about? It has some of my favorite funk through the 7:30 min mark. After that, INTENSE MIND BLOWING start/stop madness. Follow that up with a super sweet, cool down period. Finish off with a face melting peak ->Johnny B. Goode. What am I missing? Count me among the biggest supporters for this Ghost. It kicks ass.