The most common question I have gotten since I started The Daily Ghost is, What do you think of Prague?…Time to answer that question…
Background (Ghost Position: Set 1 – Song 3 of 9)
Ghost moves back into the beginning of the first set, after the second set beauty at Copenhagen. 07/06/1998 is a fire of a show, and opens incredibly strong. The Buried Alive>AC/DC Bag->Ghost->Cities opening is as strong as they come. Grade A segues from AC/DC, and into Cities are included on our track. If for some reason you have never heard it make sure to check out the Piper in the second set. One of the best.
Composed Section (1:05-6:24)
After Mike perfectly crafts the Ghost Bass Line into the AC/DC Jam, Ghost takes it’s time coming full circle. Another killer Ghost intro section. At 1:25, you can hear Trey mutter “Yeah, Yeah”. Trey then starts to throw some funk into this intro section and deploys loops that circle the theater. What develops is more of a Ghost intro jam. Mike locks down the bass line while Trey and Fish are free to play around and make for one of the more interesting Ghost intros.
At the 3:50 mark the lyrics enter. The lyrics are full of energy and the pace is already moving. In the solo section, Page gets crazy! He plays a video game sounding solo and it is unlike any other intro before it. I wouldn’t say it was the most electrifying solo ever, but it certainly was cool. The pause is a bit longer than normal and Trey actually does some soloing during it. The drop in is pretty rough, though they try to save it. Overall, a very cool composed section!
Dousing Lucerna Theater in Lighter Fluid (6:25-9:51)
The beginning of the jam starts with Mike plucking loudly. Fish is doing some unique high-hat work and making things interesting right away. If you have been following along with TDG, you know the beginning section usually starts with Fish locking down a beat. Soon after, Mike brings the funk, and Trey plays some funk riffs. You can throw that all out the window.
At the 7:08 mark, Trey moves right to the front of the stage only 30 seconds or so into the jam. This is not a slow movement either, he moves out like he is Jimi “freaking” Hendrix. This Ghost does not wait around. Big Red grabs a hold and we go for a ferocious ride.
Starting at the 7:24 mark, Page drops in a plethora of sounds. Simple notes, but a wide variety. They almost sound like wind chimes and it adds such a cool dynamic to that section. At about the 7:55 mark, Trey begins to take things up a bit. Page moves to the piano, and as he usually does, just rocks this section. The balance his piano strikes with the shredding from Trey is brilliant. It blows my mind the was he is able to calm himself down, and provide that beautiful contrast while Trey is unleashing madness. Page McConnell has one creatively awesome musical mind.
Trey’s tone is one that I always remember from this Ghost. Kevin Shapiro in his essay describes it as “Trey’s Hendrix-esque leads with bent tone and pitch into a series of shifting polyrhythmic counterpoints.” Sounds about right to me. I might add that all those sounds get entered through a machine gun and are fired into a techno dance club. Hopefully that made sense. Sometimes I write some crazy stuff. I can pick out Trey’s tone in this Ghost probably faster than any other. Something to be said for that!
This section gets lost with the face melting that is about to follow. I love this section and the fantastic build the band creates. At the 8:50 mark, Mike drops an evil eating bass line that just adds to coolness.
Watching the World Burn (9:52-12:09)
At 9:52 Trey plays one long note and then moves even further out in front. I am not sure he is still on the stage at this point!! He starts to channel his inner Hendrix, before finding a lick to create some tension with. Fish and Mike come in right behind Trey and push the pace. The tension Trey creates is with a sniper’s accuracy. From 10:05-10:16 the tension just grabs a hold of everything that exists. You know it is coming….
At the 10:20, Big Red lights a match that ignites the entire theater. When he lets the tension go there is nowhere to hide. There is nothing do but cheer!! As Trey lays into this lick the crowd goes absolutely ballistic. Little do they know we are just start getting started!! As the kids like to say “The shit is on!”. The building is on fire the energy is certainly heightened. A match has been lit but sometimes it if fun just to watch it burn for a while. When you watch the video Trey sticks his tongue out like Michael Jordan knowing just how good he is playing at this moment.
From that point forward the match Trey has lit, and the fire that he has started takes over his entire body. The inner Hendrix in Trey has completely taken over. He takes over the stage and just rips solo after solo. Mike is also all over the place and really helps in building the energy even further.
At the 11:02 mark, Fishman starts to beat the hell out of his drums. He unleashes a bunch of monster fills right in a row. I know what this means…I am about to be blown away that there is only one drummer in the band. Get out of the way or have your ass kicked by a man wearing a dress!
At the 11:55 mark, the band places a quick build into the chaos. In the video Trey is actually making the sounds with his mouth he is playing, and you can see just how pumped he is!!! You know something is coming…
The Match and the Ensuing Fire was Awesome!! You know what would be cooler? An Industrial Strength Flame Thrower!!! (12:10-End of the World, whoops I meant 14:24)
At 12:10, Trey trades his guitar for a flame thrower. I can’t put it any other way. No way in hell that solo came from an electric guitar. Trey has no regard for human life. He is spraying faces with the flamethrower left and right. Not a single one of the 700 or so faces in attendance are making it out of this place. I once talked with @LazyLighting55 who shot the video below. He looked like the guy who wears the mask in Boardwalk Empire. Some injuries are so much fun while it happens, the pain that comes after is worth it. I mean when Big Red lets that lick go, you can just hear the horror of everyone’s face melting. It sounds like the crowd is cheering, but we all know what is really going on…
While we are the subject of misinformation…Many people think the nickname “Big Red” comes from his hair and beard color. I beg to differ. I like to think it comes from that moment when he trades his guitar for a flame thrower and unleashes red fire on unsuspecting venues. Whatever, agree to disagree.
Trey is jumping up and down, and Mike is basically laughing at how awesome this is. The pure ass kicking energy flowing through the band is so awesome to watch. This video is certainly one of the true gems in the Phish World.
So we should talk about the actual music for a second. As much as Trey’s is playing some of his most ass kicking licks ever, try to hear everything else that is going on. Fishman is beating the living crap out his kit, you can’t really miss that. Mike is moving up and down the entire range of his bass. He moves up and down scales with so much ease, and it just adds that extra dimension to this blaze of destruction.
The thing that I love to point out during this is just how cool the Chairman is. He is not the Chairman of the Boards during this insanity, he is the Chairman of this Fire. Ha, I thought he blew my mind at how cool he was in the previous section among the hectic pace. In this section he is the guy that, even though everyone is bolting for the fire escape and beating the hell out of each other, puts on his shades and new shirt, and walks right out the front door.
In the video you can see him playing piano and the Rhodes at the same time. It is not just hectic run after run, up and down the keys. Everything is blowing up around him, and the coolest man on the planet, just plays perfect chord after chord. What it does is, it is basically like him holding paper and cardboard for Trey’s flamethrower. By holding down that slower space with his chords, it makes Trey’s shredding even more powerful. Picasso McConnell, ladies and gentlemen.
It’s Ok…Come back I know You Are a Little Freaked Out…Look A Dry Ice Factory (14:24-16:15)
After that blazing rage, things start to fade out a bit. Trey starts to extended some notes and Fish brings things down. At the 14:51 mark, Trey bows out and Page starts to lay down some chords. The jam breaks down and then at the 15:35 stops. The crowd erupts and Trey’s lets loops absorb the applause. At 15:53, Fish starts the jam back up but it as an outro that segues beautifully into Cities. One of my favorite segues in Phish history. The beauty of it is not just the segue but the fact that Cities starts with such a quickened pace. Pure brilliance.
For some people, this Ghost is their absolute favorite. I will never argue with them. It does one thing, and one thing insanely well, it kicks ass. There are few face melters out there like Prague Ghost. It is simply known as “Prague Ghost”, for a reason. It is not my favorite, nor in my top 5. I just prefer my Ghosts to do a couple of different things well. I like my Ghosts like a fine balanced wine, that you can pick out each and every flavor, then appreciate the brilliance of how they blend together. That being said, I love Prague Ghost. Sometimes, it is fun to to smash that fine bottle of wine and just get drunk. I often play Prague Ghost for people who are just getting into Phish, it is hard not to love the pure power of it.
Link to Kevin Shapiro’s Essay on 07/06/98 Shapiro’s Essay