Show #84: 2/18/89 The Stone Church Newmarket, NH

Saturday, 02/18/1989
Old Stone Church, Newmarket, NH

Set 1: The Sloth,  Divided Sky,  The Curtain >  I Didn’t Know,  Colonel Forbin’s Ascent >  Fly Famous Mockingbird >  The Lizards,  Walk Away >  Possum,  Good Times Bad Times

Set 2: Golgi Apparatus,  Wilson >  Peaches en Regalia,  You Enjoy Myself >  La Grange,  Slave to the Traffic Light,  Contact,  David Bowie[1]

Set 3: Whipping Post,  Corinna,  AC/DC Bag

Encore: Fire

[1] “Fish’s Birthday” lyrics.

The Stone Church in Newmarket, NH
The Stone Church in Newmarket, NH

I’ll probably say this a lot more but in over 1600 shows, you’re bound to get a few where that’s just not a lot going on. This is one of those shows. The tape quality is not very good and the playing just isn’t as hot as you’d expect. This is the second of 2 nights at the Stone Church. It’s more notable for what we don’t get here. The first night Phish debuted a new song called “Split Open and Melt”, a song that would quickly become a fan favorite. But we’ll never know what that first version was like. Even says 2/17/89 is not in their archives at all. Aside form that, it is exciting to hear a larger crowd in the Stone Church. Clearly, Phish was brining a good audience in on a Saturday night. The lone highlight here is the band doing a birthday version of “David Bowie” for Jon Fishman. The following day was Fish’s 24th birthday and the band replaced UB40 with Fish’s Birthday as the lyric and then yelled for him to do 100 pushups. Fish apparently did do some push-ups after “Bowie” but with the tape cut, we’ll never know. Still an interesting snippet since we just celebrated Fish’s 50th.

Show #80: 12/17/88 The Stone Church – Newmarket, NH

Saturday, 12/17/1988
Old Stone Church, Newmarket, NH

Set 1: Divided Sky,  You Enjoy Myself >  Slave to the Traffic Light,  Foam >  Possum,  Colonel Forbin’s Ascent >  Fly Famous Mockingbird >  David Bowie

The Stone Church in Newmarket, NH
The Stone Church in Newmarket, NH

The last show of the year almost feels like an extended encore. We only have one set to work with but it’s a strong set, full of Phish favorites. The sound on this is just fantastic, almost like it’s taken straight from Junta but we do have introductions from Trey to make sure we know it’s a live recording. “Divided Sky” hits a blistering peak with soaring leads from Trey. Trey banters about the new album and the album AFTER the new album. “Our FIFTHcoming album,” Page says. Not to be confused with their forthcoming album being the joke. “You Enjoy Myself” has a really nice jam beginning at the 10-minute mark. Serious early funk. “Slave” had a decent peak but still work to be done. The interplay in “Foam” continues to improve and is slowly becoming the whole band showcase it will be. The “Bowie” here is top notch and really finds some true jamming. The intro continues to get extended, hitting that more modern feel. Around the 5:30 mark, Trey hits the “Secret Language” trill, which he still uses today to say he has an idea. He then plays an tight solo over the top that leads into a nice little stop/start jam. They also have nice full band riff towards the end around the 11-minute mark that is on fire. Really showing strides as moving as unit on this version. Overall a lovely set for 1988.

Top 5 of 1988:

Now for my top five shows of 1988. This will included whenever we reach the end of a year. I will merely rank and link to my reviews. No need to retread what has already been written.

5. 11/3/88
A polished Boston debut

4. 5/24/88
Early out-there jamming

3. Colorado ’88
An important step for Phish

2. 12/10/88
Only one cover is huge. Also it’s below the radar status means it needs some love.

1. 7/23/88
Pete’s Phabulous Phish Phest is a night for all-time.

Show #78: 11/11/88 The Stone Church – Newmarket, NH

Photo credit: The Stone Church
Photo credit: The Stone Church

Friday, 11/11/1988
Old Stone Church, Newmarket, NH

Set 1: I Didn’t Know[1],  Good Times Bad Times,  You Enjoy Myself,  Possum,  Fluffhead, Take the ‘A’ Train,  David Bowie

Set 2: Golgi Apparatus,  Colonel Forbin’s Ascent >  Fly Famous Mockingbird,  Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen >  Weekapaug Groove

Set 3: Mr. P.C.[2],  Fee,  Bold As Love,  The Lizards,  Whipping Post

[1] Carl Gerhard on trumpet.
[2] Carl Gerhard and Russ Remington on horns.

When you’re a touring band starting out, you’ll play in any room that will take you. When you’re an upcoming band in New England, fortunately that includes the Stone Church in Newmarket, NH. Since 1969, this former Universalist meeting house built in 1832 has been a haven for live music. Besides Phish, the many artists that have graced its tiny stage include Buddy Guy, Aerosmith, Bonnie Raitt, John Scofield, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and a whole host of others. It’s unique location, a small town placed between the University of New Hampshire and the bustling seaside city of Portsmouth, gives the venue the crowds they need to be successful. This will also give the gig a more relaxed feel because it’s not in the high-pressure world of the Boston music scene. The venue remains a stalwart of the jamband community to this day.

Photo Credit: The Stone Church
Photo Credit: The Stone Church

As for the show itself, we don’t get a lot of it. We get a very solid “David Bowie” from set 1. A forgettable “Mike’s Groove” from set 2. Though I will say the “Weekapaug” is striding towards its formidable modern form with a faster pace than before. After Weekapaug, Trey advertises a gig of Savoy Truffle and Ollie and the Patriots at the M.U.B. Trey doesn’t know what M.U.B. is right now but we’ll all find out soon in the band’s career. Most of the meat is in set 3. It kicks off with a lovely cover of John Coltrane’s “Mr. P.C.” featuring future Giant Country Horns members Russell Remington and Carl “Gears” Gerhard. Unlike the always present “A Train”, “Mr. P.C.” foreshadows the band’s desire to speed up tempos in future gigs as this one is played at full “hard bop” speed and it’s a delight. A real look at how the jazz chops were as important as the rock chops. This, I think, is a key factor in what made Phish stand out among other bands. Like the Grateful Dead before them did with bluegrass, they took these jazz influences and fused them to progressive rock in ways no one had yet and these old jazz standards show the importance of that. The rest of the set is pretty similar to previous gigs. I wouldn’t say these tracks are must listen but the importance of the Stone Church in the band’s history can’t be understated. Of course, having a giant “Terrapin Station” sign over the bar and stained glass windows of Jerry Garcia and Frank Zappa couldn’t of hurt either.