Phish Friday | THE Bowie > Cities > Bowie

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Hola LMB readers. Nice to be back and nice to jump right in head-first with the return of Phish Friday. I figured that if we’re coming back with a PF post our first week back, we’d better make it a damn good one. So I bring you “THE Bowie > Cities > Bowie” or so I have often heard it named. Although these tracks really speak for themselves, I thought I’d offer a quick breakdown…

Except for the little Simpsons theme busted out during the spacy intro, this version of “David Bowie” is pretty typical for its first 15 minutes or so. The vocals are sparse and silly. The improv is dark and focused on familiar Bowie themes.

Then…it deconstructs, but in a good way.


Piece by piece, the jam is dissolved into a choppy, rhythmic funkiness until Fishman and Gordo lock into a light little groove. Just two minutes prior, we had been in a long, meandering, and dark kind of improvisation. But with a little rhythmic breakdown and change of key, the band heads out into brand new territory.

And it’s vintage Phish.

The upbeat funk continues until someone — maybe Trey — makes the full transition to the band’s take on the Talking Heads classic, “Cities,” which was still a bit of a rarity back in those days. And damn is it funky! In classic Phish fashion, the outro delves back into the darkness. Fishman plays the familiar jazzy high-hat, they switch keys, and then dive back in exactly where they left off just about 10 minutes ago.

It’s a thing of beauty, really. Get the entire show here.

Full Setlist via Phish.net:

07-30-97 Ventura County Fairgrounds, Ventura, CA
Soundcheck: Jam, Twist, Chuckie’s In Love, Chuckie’s In Love (played to Makisupa), Jam
1: NICU, Wolfman’s Brother-> Chalk Dust Torture, Water in the Sky, Stash, Weigh, Piper, Cars Trucks Buses, Character Zero
2: Punch You in the Eye, Free, David Bowie*-> Cities-> David Bowie, Bouncing Around the Room, Uncle Pen, Prince Caspian, Fire
E: My Soul
*With “Simpsons” language in the high-hat intro.

Have a great weekend!

  • Saxtor

    I was there, and it really was truly amazing.

  • Saxtor

    I was there, and it really was truly amazing.

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

    Yeah this was pretty sweet. Good choice, Whit.

    I think we forgot to add it to the post but we’re still interested in accepting submissions for Phish Friday. Drop a comment or email us if you have a good one in mind…

    I’ll start going through the archives, too — I’m pretty sure there’s still a couple standard shows that we never featured at all.

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

    Yeah this was pretty sweet. Good choice, Whit.

    I think we forgot to add it to the post but we’re still interested in accepting submissions for Phish Friday. Drop a comment or email us if you have a good one in mind…

    I’ll start going through the archives, too — I’m pretty sure there’s still a couple standard shows that we never featured at all.

  • stan

    sorry, late to the party on this. good call, whit, on bringing the rest of us into the fold on this legendary bowie. i’d heard all about it — but never, you know, heard it. definitely all it’s cracked up to be. the best part is that groove they find *before* cities. agreed with whit; comes out of nowhere. but man, they could’ve jived on that for another ten minutes and i’d have been stoked.

  • stan

    sorry, late to the party on this. good call, whit, on bringing the rest of us into the fold on this legendary bowie. i’d heard all about it — but never, you know, heard it. definitely all it’s cracked up to be. the best part is that groove they find *before* cities. agreed with whit; comes out of nowhere. but man, they could’ve jived on that for another ten minutes and i’d have been stoked.

  • wilson

    saw this show. was teh first of that long, northerly west coast swing that sumemr (up to the Gorge. this was a perfect warm-up show. 1st set was nice, but the 2nd was a real step up. The Bowie>Cities>Bowie was memorable.

  • wilson

    saw this show. was teh first of that long, northerly west coast swing that sumemr (up to the Gorge. this was a perfect warm-up show. 1st set was nice, but the 2nd was a real step up. The Bowie>Cities>Bowie was memorable.