Notes: The European tour opener featured the debuts of Walfredo and Rock A William and the Phish debuts of Love Me, My Soul, and When the Circus Comes. The jam after PYITE contained Close to the Edge (Yes) teases from Trey. Maze was unfinished.
This show is nothing essential, but an okay listen nonetheless. Here we get the first taste of funky Phish. Though the funk hadn't fully developed, the contrast between this show and Fall '96 is striking. The grooves are deeper and, more importantly, Trey has started to back off. This is the first step of Trey's (and the band's) minimalistic journey that would culminate somewhere in the first half of 2000.
There aren't really any highlights in this show, save the Punch. The song Punch You In The Eye itself, is a little sloppy, but the post-jam out of the last big hit is quite tasty and reaches some very nice spacey places. If you include the post-jam in the timing, Punch is almost 17 minutes long. Other than that we've got just decent versions of 2001, Stash, and Bowie in the first set and five debuts sprinkled in for flavor.
In the end, the only thing you really ought to hear from this show is the Punch.
I actually didn't enjoy the Jam out of Punch... I think it could be overrated in part because it's really the only improv the whole night.
As lame as it sounds, my highlight of the show was probably the encore. You can tell the band was excited about the Billy Breathes material and as far as I can tell songs like Prince Caspian are played their best around this time. Caspian definitely hits some great peaks, and JBG is a great way to end the show and rips.
But I definitely agree with the consensus that this show is skippable.