The Daily Ghost

The Daily Ghost #31 07/02/1998 The Grey Hall, Freetown Christiana, Copenhagen, Denmark

Background (Ghost Position: Set 2 – Song 1 of 4-Show Gap: 2)

After being played in the first night of a three night run, Ghost comes back bigger and badder on the last night of the run in Copenhagen.  As the second set opener, it has the room to spread its wings and devour everything in its path.  The first song of a massive four song set, this is one for the ages…Some thoughts form @MrMiner are included in the “Final Thoughts” section.  I have the segue and full Runaway Jim included.


Composed Section (0:00-5:58)

After some idiot yells “Halley’s Comet” (sorry if you are that idiot), Trey releases some loops and they echo ever so softly.  Mike’s bass comes roaring through the fog that Trey’s loops create.  When done correctly, the new style Ghost intro can be very powerful and create a massive spooky feeling.  Copenhagen #2 intro does just that.  Letting the loops echo those extra couple of seconds makes all the difference.  You can just feel the power of this Ghost.  I certainly like the old Ghost intro as much as the next person, but when the current style is done the right way, it is bad ass.  It takes until the 3:15 mark for the lyrics to creep in.  When they do, they are ever so soft adding to the spooky feeling.

Even though this intro is patient, and has that massive feeling to it, it’s a bit quicker than Copenhagen #1.  The solo section features Mike dominating completely for the first time.  Page is really an afterthought.  The pause is extra long, and they butcher the drop in.  A lot of times it seems the longer the pause, the uglier the drop in.

Grooving at Grey Hall (5:59-8:40)

After a long intro section, the jam breaks down quickly.  Fish slows things down, and Page sprinkles some piano in very lightly.  This is a smooth jazzy style jam to start.

At the 6:30 mark, Trey moves into the groove with pure grace.  I love his entrance and the subsequent series of notes he plays.  He leads so effortlessly, yet is completely in tune with the jam around him.  Not to mention, that gritty sound he uses is fantastic.  He allows Page’s piano and Mike’s walking bass to move around him and balance the jam.

These sections can really be impressive.  The mixing pot of Phish is in full display.  Trey has a bluesy style solo working, Mike and Fish are throwing jazzy funk down, and Page moves all over the place.  The result is a sound that is purely Phish.  The beginning sections of Ghost jam often find a sound like this, and I thought it was time I point it out.

I experience a range of emotions when this happens.  Trey’s gorgeous soloing drifts me away from reality.  Fish and Mike make my feet and body move, while Page catches me and spins me around.  Trying to categorize Phish is an impossible job.

Get the Kindling…Time to Build the Fire (8:42-11:30)

At the 8:41 mark Page plays some organ chords to creates a massive amount of space.  As a result at 8:48, Trey starts to quickly repeat a series of notes building the tension in the jam.  Mike climbs up and down his scales to help bring some wood to this fire.  Fishman has clearly picked up the pace and you can really feel heat coming.

Phish is in no hurry to get there however, and they really take their time building this beast. Trey really works at the build while Fishman continues to push the pace faster and faster.

At the 10:00 mark, Trey does a really cool thing.  He starts to solo in the middle of this build.  It fits perfectly and the jam does not miss a beat.  What I love is that you can feel the hairs on you body tingling, knowing full Machine Gun Trey is coming, yet the anticipation lingers.  He shows you glimpses of it but does not force it upon the jam.  He waits like a lion stalking his prey…

Thanks for Having us Grey Hall, Sorry we have to Light Your Building on Fire (11:31-13:20)

At the 11:31 mark, Fish holds things up just for a second allowing Trey to release the tension.  Trey plays an ultra fast series of notes and the crowd responds.  Trey starts to take things further and further upward.  Then…

At 12:02-12:15 Trey plays a lick that is stuff of legend.  This lick is also known as the Trojan Horse, German Tanks, maybe even a nuclear warhead.  It might be only 13 seconds long but in those 13 seconds civilizations were ended.  I am not sure where the heck that came from, but I sure hope it comes back.

After the 12:15 mark is no slouch either!  Trey and Fish are pouring lighter fluid on this fire.  Back the heck away!  Monster peak!

At the 12:48 mark, Mike starts to infuse a mellower bass line into the fire.  Things are still cooking right along but that bass line is the beginning of a change to the next section.  Fish starts to slow things down, and as he does that, Trey makes sure to get a couple last machine gun licks in.

Cool it Down (13:21-14:59)

The fire from the previous section slowly starts to be extinguished.  At the 13:50 mark, Fish puts the fire extinguisher on full blast.  He slows things way down, and we start to move to a more exploratory space.

At the 14:01 mark Trey starts to play some of the fall ’97 Funk riffs and it looks like a full Funk dance party may break out.  Instead, Trey backs off a bit as Mike plays a huge tone which is almost the bass line from Crosseyed and Painless.  Instead of the funk throwdown, Trey starts to solo for a bit until…

From the Ashes…The Scary Ghost Emerges…(15:00-18:05)

From the explorations that take place in the previous section, Trey finds a lick that he falls in love with at the 15:00 mark.  The band does not jump on at first, but Trey relentlessly repeats it and it becomes the new direction of the jam.

What I love about this quintessential type 2 jam is that it actually makes me think of a scary Ghost.  I always think of Trey’s sound as a scary Ghost floating through the air chasing me.  It is dark, dirty, and scary with nowhere to hide.  From the ashes of the fire, this evil Ghost has emerged and he wants revenge for lighting his building on fire.

I feel like he is hunting me down to make me pay for all the sins I have committed (there are plenty).  This is not the friendly Ghost of Worcester, this Ghost brings pain and suffering.  Fish has some perfectly timed crash cymbals which only add to the effect.  Page’s piano, which usually brings raindrops and moves my soul, is only feeding this Ghost monster. Thanks Page..

Four band members moving at once to create a monster that frightens me? Yeah, that just happened.

Then, an Angel appeared…(18:06-21:20)

Just as it feels the darkness will consume me, the beauty of Trey’s soul shines through.  It doesn’t come roaring through, but takes it time.  The rays of light that usually come from Page, are powered this time by Big Red.  They work their way into this darkness and have a battle with the black scary Ghost.  They go back and forth, between the light vs. the dark.  Page gives the light just a little bit of push at the 19:27 mark, and it was all that was needed.

At 19:50 the Ghost is no more, it has been defeated.  The brightness of the angel created by Trey’s guitar is all that shines.  By 20:03 the angel is so bright, that even the other three members of Phish must simply stand in awe.  No other sounds are made, somethings are just too beautiful.

The last minute and a twenty seconds from Trey is some the most beautiful music I have ever heard.  I have listened to this minute and twenty of Phish probably a hundred times in my life.  In fact, I just listened to it about 25 times while thinking about what to write for this review.  It just grabs me and doesn’t let go.  I don’t think I am the only one either.  You can hear a pin drop during this.  Normally when things get that quiet, you hear the audience chatting.  Not here, the beauty shut the crowd up..

I saw a thread on today about Phish songs that make you cry.  I found it very ironic that thread was started today.  This last minute and a half of this Ghost has done that for me many times.  It makes me think of the beautiful ride into heaven, for all the people that have crossed my path in life, that are no longer with us.  This melody, from my favorite guitarist, is the guide for them leaving my life and entering a better place.  Thank you Trey..

After that heart lifting melody, a very cool segue to Runway Jim takes place.

Final Thoughts

I had a conversation earlier in this project with Mr. Miner about some of his favorite Ghosts.  We certainly agree on the strength of 07/02/1998.  I asked him for some thoughts and here is what he said..

“The first new-school “Ghost” came as the second song of Christiana’s three-night run, but when the band brought out the song for the second time in three nights on July 2nd, they instantly realized its enhanced potential, veering from “cow funk” of the past into an exploration of texture, melody and ambient realms. This “Ghost,” the centerpiece of one of 1998’s most outstanding sets, set the bar incredibly high for all subsequent versions. The band’s improvisation was airtight throughout the three nights at The Grey Hall, and their interplay came to a head in this all-time version. In my opinion, 7.2.98’s “Ghost” joins Radio City and McNichols versions as the most impressive three renditions ever played. Take a listen and hear how Phish launched “Ghost’s” new era in an intimate, Scandinavian barn with a jam that transcended its place in time.”-Mr.Miner

While I can’t as easily pick a top three, Copehagen #2 is certainly of that quality.  A fantastic intro, a great groove, a smooth build, a fire peak, a scary Ghost section, and a breathtaking outro show just how much ground this Ghost covers.  Maybe, more than any version, it shows the limitless scope which Ghost can move through.  It really does a little bit of everything, and moves the soul.  A great example of why Ghost is my favorite song.

Score: 9.6

Tomorrow, TDG gives thanks.