Phish Friday | THE Bowie > Cities > Bowie

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

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!