Trey spent a lot of time writing during the summer of 1987 and it seems that the band really came out of the gate with a much more serious attitude than before. I really believe that this month, and the antecedent months prior, were a turning point for the band who had made the decision to take the next step and give it a go. This performance, and the next ones over August, really shine compared to previous performances earlier in the year.
While the most commonly available sources of this show contain Set I until part-way through Set II, the rest of the show is not available. Interestingly, early versions of the Pharmer's Almanac have the second half of set II and set III listed as Set I and II. Seeing as the band was playing 3 shows in a row at Nectar's during these days (sometimes 2 in a row, sometimes 3), it could be that there were 3 shows over this period and we are combining 2 shows into one (although fairly unlikely since Skin it Back cuts midway through the song). In any event, all we have of this show is the first set and 1/2 of set 2. Unless the second half of this show turns up, or more clarity is brought about the missing 2nd half, we won't know for sure.
Anyways, on to the music. It's evident that the band has solidified their parts in these songs and has practiced significantly (Fish, notably). A breezy Golgi flows into Slave (a la much of 86, 2/13 and 10/14). Slave has a nice build with no noticeable Trey solo, yet the band sounds great. A beautiful early version.
ZZ top's La Grange is next, the first version of this late 80's concert staple. Although short, the band plays the song dutifully with some screeching Trey wail. The wonderful The Chase > Lushington > Dog Log > Possum movement that the band had been tinkering with in May appears, for the last time. This is the finest version of this combination the band plays, and it is definitely worth a listen, especially since the AUD is very clear. Page highlights in this Possum.
A very solid Sally ends with no vocal jam. The first Timber follows and contains an extra verse by Trey. This medley of covers continues with a ripping GTBT. After Fish screws up the ending, Trey introduces him. The bluesy Shaggy Dog calms things down and gives the audience a rest. A standard Funky Bitch closes the set.
The Curtain, in its first appearance, is novel here, as the band performs it flawlessly. It's definitely worth having a listen to this or the 8/21/87 version as they are both spectacular. Richard Wright guests on his own song, Halley's Comet next, and sings in his extremely skewed voice. Halley's moves directly into a nascent Sloth, which lacks its heavy-metal bridge.
Light Up, one of the rarer Phish covers is next, featuring Trey doing circles around Steve Winwood. This Light Up is raucous but somehow calms down and cooly moves into Skin it Back, which ends most versions of this recording.
This is a solid, well-played, and wonderful show. Even though these are the first versions of many of these songs, the band is well-practiced, and things sound really good. Take a listen to the Lushington>Possum, the short but sweet Slave, and the early Curtain With. Those who haven't heard Richard Wright sing should check out this version of Halley's.