Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Phil & Phriends Part 3: 4/17/99

Today marks the 20th Anniversary of Phil & Phriends Show from April '99 were the first true coming together of the Grateful Dead and Phish worlds. For those of use who remember the show announcements, the importance can not be overstated, this was going to be monumental, Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell would head west to join Phil Lesh along with Steve Kimock and John Molo at The Fillmore in San Francisco. These were the hottest tickets around and even more exciting the shows outshine the immense hype.

They remain some of the best live music produced by either outfits illustrious careers and deserve a revisit on their twentieth birthday. (Part 1, Part 2)

Today we look at the mid show of the run: 4/17/99:

(Listen through or watch through the youtube link above)

If the previous night was the Phish lead party night for this outfit, the closing night was highlighted by Kimock and Molo as the band got spacey, jazz directed and worked out some of the more intricate Dead tunes in relaxed, confident and down right jaw dropping fashion.
The opening huge tune/segue fest continued for night three and if asked what is the supreme highlight of this run, I would have to pick the opening segue magic of this show as the "Dark Star">"It's Up To You" "Days Between"> "Dark Star" > "My Favorite Things" is simply glorious. 

The playing in and out of "Dark Star" would be another trait Lesh would take with him moving forward but on this night Kimock shines bright as his tune "It's Up To You" blends wonderfully with the Grateful Dead old jam war horse, and the most underrated song in the band's catalog "Day's Between". Always a personal favorite, this version is magical and we haven't even dipped back into "Dark Star" and the instrumental take on the Coltrane classic.

The whole thing is moved along so swimmingly by Lesh and particularly Molo as the band just seems in total command over the opening hour of music. Donna Jean rejoins the boys to help out as "Bird Song" has flashes of that Dark Star jazz flowing through it as Page delivers his vocal highlight of the run to close out the magical set of music even though not everyone will dig Phil's backup vocals.

Here is where I will put a caveat, if you don't like Phil's style of singing these shows may not take on the legendary status they have achieved in the RtBE clubhouse. Sure there is enough music (as well as vocals from Trey and Page) but Phil is the main vocalist and his singing just fine for us, but he is clearly not for everyone.

The second set opens with "Terrapin Station" as the band goes big and while not an all-time must hear it is a respectable version (with some vocal flubs but excellent playing roaming over twenty minutes) but the set shifts into a higher gear with "Down with Disease" acting as a rev up before the band melds back seamlessly into Dark Star's sung second verse; simply gorgeous.

The group moves into some fan favorites mid second set and while perhaps a killer "Eyes of The World" jam would have seemed a perfect fit, they went with "Friend of the Devil" and "Casey Jones" both solid if not world beating. Things are soaring again though for "Morning Dew" and the raging running of "Going Down The Road Feeling Bad"

This particular group of players seem like they could have kept it going forever, but they never played together again, and that is OK as these shows captured a truly magical coming together of musical worlds and connected generations through music, love and pure joy. RtBE makes it a habit to listen to these shows often, you should do the same.

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