The band plays much better this night than the previous night, so if you're deciding between the two, this one is clearly better. Before McGrupp, Trey introduces Paul and Tim Rogers, the light man prior to CK. McGrupp starts strongly and it features the first Page-solo section. Although the band doesn't perform the usual background music (you know, with the Mike 2-note bassline), this section is interesting in that it sounds kind of like a Who song. It's appropriate really, since the band uses this jam to move into the rare and motivated Sparks. Check out Fish's work on this version.
Bitch is standard here. YEM, while a bit slow, is extremely solid. If you're looking for a good early 13 minute version, check this one out. It features a very work from Page with Trey solidly backing him with some jazzy chords. Not much to say about Sneakin Sally here, as it is consistent with most late 87 versions. This Hood is really beautiful for an early version. There's some nice Trey/Page interplay before a very inspired climax from Trey. It is one of the most put-together Hoods for the time and is very moving. Fire here is also worth a once over, as Trey kills it. Nice close to a 1-hour first set.
Set 2 opens with one of my favorite Timbers. For this one, Trey really amplifies his use of one of his pedals (gear-heads, any help?). Fish lays on a jazzy ride beat which I like more than his traditional approach. Definitely take a listen to this version - soaring and I just am a sucker for the bite of Trey's pedal work here. A majestic version of Fluffhead follows - the band had clearly been practicing the full version of the song. Perhaps fearing a bit of audience detraction, the band plays a handful of more approachable songs after I Didn't Know. Fee, Corinna, and Alumni Blues aren't much here other than common place, although Corinna is always a nice addition.
Set 3 starts off with a goofy blues riff with Trey introducing Phish as 'the Mike Gordon band'. Mike chimes in with some 'wait a minute' (a la 8/29/87)and 'good god lord' James Brown impressions. Funny stuff. Suzy a bit slow, but the band picks things up with Possum. Divided Sky here is botched badly, with some serious confusion during the escalating scales part. While the band doesn't stop directly and move into BBFCFM, they play it immediately after Divided Sky ends. Loud and funny version here.
The first Dinner and a Movie deserves some discussion. First of all, it's much longer than conventional versions, with some extra verses and additional chords during the end of the bridge. Trey's approach is much more straight-forward than his odd time-shifting intro on Junta. Page hadn't put together his descending organ part for the breaks yet, so that section sounds a bit odd. Otherwise, this version is great just in that it features Trey soloing at the end of the song. It's not just a standard solo, either, this version really tears the song up. Awesome.
Curtis Loew slows things down and the Whipping Post is nice, but nothing monumental here. Interestingly, the band plays Harpua - but not the first half of Harpua. This is just the second half "look the storm is gone" part. Of course, Poster hadn't been invented yet, so the version is a bit funny to my ears, but everything else is pretty much the same.
While A-train keeps things light, this Camel Walk is particularly slinky. La Grange seems like it is the set-closer as there is some space afterwards. Fishman steps out from behind his kit and croons Bike here for the first time. He actually knows the words here. Slave is a beautiful closer, very patient during the build. A wonderful way to close the last recorded show of 1987.
This is a solid 3 set show with a handful of highlights. McGrupp>Sparks and Fire from the first set are inspired. I also really like the Timber Ho from set 2 and the first extra-long version of Dinner and a Movie. La Grange is also well played and the set-closing Slave is particularly nice. One of the better 87 shows out there, for sure.