The Phish 52: 8/10/97 Cities

I’ve written about this show in the past.  It was part of my Phish Friday’s idea, that petered out a while back.  Of course this little project has taken a while to even get going, so I’m consistently inconsistent.


It was my first time at the venue and I haven’t been back since 1998, but I still have fond memories and of course the Cities that opened up the second set.  The song starts off as a pretty standard Cities, a cover of the 1979 Talking Heads tune.  It really isn’t until the seventh minute that things start to take on a more jammed out element foreshadowing what is to come.  About 6:45 there is kind of a plinko sound with some great interplay from Trey and Page.

7:30 there is a tempo change and a new groove starts to emerge.  The structure of Cities is still present, but there is a more rhythmic element driving the song at this point.

9:22 Trey starts a new chord progression and it starts to move away from the more funky, syncopated groove that Cities starts in and the song had been resting in, to a more exploratory, spacey feel.  Mike is playing a simple two beat line, that becomes more complex by 10:00.  Page is kind of noodling around on synthesizer, adding a great atmosphere. At 10:30 Fish is more involved as well, really setting a mood with cymbal play.  From this point on, Cities proper is a distant memory.  The entire band has joined in and a great build up ensues. Around the 12:00 mark, things have picked up considerably and around 13:30 Trey is back in the driver’s seat, kind of branching off and the steady rhythm is muted a bit.

14:35 The pounding repetition is back and the intensity is almost at it’s peak. The song has morphed into a very strong rocker.  At 15:40 there is kind of a lull as things seem to be mellowing out, it isn’t the smoothest of transitions, but they recover nicely.

16:25 We reach a fantastic crescendo  and we get to my favorite part of the song. Things positively just soar for the next minute or so.

17:22 Trey is chording  and Page is kind of bouncing around until the sound evolves into an almost Franklin’s Tower kind of sound.  Page keeps adding bounces, which in retrospect seem to be hinting at the theramin solo that will arrive later in the set.

19:00 just a great groove that is simply perfect. Page is dancing around again on the piano, playing very nicely over the rhythm that the others are putting down. Things pretty much stay in this neighborhood, all the while building up toward the finale and the segue into Good Times Bad Times.  You could almost call it a rip chord the way Good Times sort of just pops in, but it’s really hard to say that considering the rip chord comes almost 24 minutes into the song.

This version of Cities is easily my favorite version of the song and doing a little research, it is a pretty rare version.  Very few times have the band launched into an extended jam from Cities, only two appear on the 20+ minute jam chart, but it doesn’t stop me from being hopeful every time I happen to catch one.  According to, it is the must-hear version of the song and I can’t disagree.  If you’re a fan of a little more spacey, a little less funky from 1997, you really should check this Cities out.  In fact, you should check out all of this run at Deer Creek.  It’s got some great stuff and somewhere down the road I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the Timber (Jerry) played the next night.  Up next though, the jam that started it all for me, way back in 1994.


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