My general thoughts are they came out smoking and I really liked the first set as it flows really well and nicely balances vocal duties. The second set is so incomplete it’s just too hard to say much about it. But as for the first set at least, this was an “on” night for the band in 1989. There’s not really much on the recording in the way of improvisation, but as stated, half of the show isn’t represented on tape. There is nothing here that is “must hear” material, but if you love Phish and want a different 89 show to check out besides the rightfully classic 8/26/89, the first set is a good mid 89 representation.
Oh Kee Pa > Suzy is the perfect start to any show IMHO. Although Fishman is not flawless in this Suzy, he still tears it up. Dissolves wonderfully into TMWSIY. Two instrumentals in the first 3 songs of the show, nice! This is just beautiful. The expected segue into Avenu Malkenu. Great energy. Smoking. Trey quickly counts off and we’ve entered Gamehenge via AC/DC Bag. Next is a brief dedication to two Dartmouth students for winning the Phish quiz (they go unnamed on my copy), one of whom apparently has graduated and seems is not even present. PYITE. Trey runs into some problems here, which I think it can be forgiven, as according to phish.net stats, this is the second version ever of this incredible tune. This would have floored me if I had been in attendance. It was played 4 more times in 1989 and then not again until after Page scored his baby grand in 93, when the Landlady/Punch dance was unveiled for the first time by Trey. Trey just nails his solo in Rocky Top. Scorching. Just as I’m noticing a great back and forth flow of songs sung by Trey and Mike, Page steps up to the plate with his vocal lead for Bold as Love. Perfect timing. Just ask the axis, he knows everything-g-g-g. Hilarious. Mango. Ok, great. Very jazzy feel. Loving everything Trey and especially Fish are doing. Lizards. And we’re back in Gamehenge. Mike would probably say Trey is playing too many notes leading up to his solo, I’d tend to agree. Again, quickly forgotten by the typically gorgeous composed solo part of the tune. Mike’s. Again, love the back and forth vocal sharing. H20 and Weekapaug are missing off my copy and that ends the first set.
Split, A-Train, Divided, Gin is all that exists from set two and is the opening stanza. To my ears everything is played well. Sandwiching A-Train in between Split and Divided really showcases their diversity. I really love the jazz standards and you can hear it come out in a lot of their playing from this era. About the only things I didn’t like was during the outro Gin segment when Trey intentionally plays behind the beat, as he will often do. One of those things that I find hard to enjoy on an early sbd recording like this because there’s just so much of Trey’s attack in the mix. This is something that just sounds much better in concert or on an audience pull than a sbd copy. Although I know what Trey is trying to do, it doesn't play back well.