Show #99: 5/1/1989 Pearl Street Ballroom Northampton, MA

Monday, 05/01/1989
Pearl Street Ballroom, Northampton, MA

Set 1: Dinner and a Movie,  You Enjoy Myself,  Esther,  AC/DC Bag,  Alumni Blues >  Letter to Jimmy Page >  Alumni Blues,  Take the ‘A’ Train,  Split Open and Melt,  The Lizards,  Golgi Apparatus,  Good Times Bad Times

Set 2: Mike’s Song >  I Am Hydrogen >  Weekapaug Groove,  On Your Way Down,  Possum, Icculus,  Colonel Forbin’s Ascent >  Fly Famous Mockingbird,  David Bowie

Encore: Contact

Pearl Street Ballroom at 10 Pearl Street in Northampton, MA. Right near the train station.
Pearl Street Ballroom at 10 Pearl Street in Northampton, MA. Right near the train station.

In reviewing the history of Phish, one cannot understate how important the city of Northampton and Pioneer Valley was to the band’s success. The center hub of the Five Colleges Consortium, consisting of Smith, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, Amherst, and UMass Amherst, this cluster of students provided the first great Phish fan base outside of Burlington and nowhere is this confirmed than this night at Pearl Street.

Back on 4/15/1989, Page mentioned his show, saying that if they got enough ticket sales, the show would be moved from the basement (aka 10 Below) to the main hall. Phish had just played 10 Below exactly 1 month earlier on 4/1/1989 and clearly the venue saw the potential that night. Of course, Northampton was also no stranger to Phish. The band had already played Sheehan’s on Pleasant Street, one of the hottest spots in town, 3 times in the past year. Northampton was that place for Phish right now. Phish was able to sell enough tickets to play the main hall and they would stay there for 7 shows over the course of the next year. So we’ll get to know this space well by the end of it.

We only have the recording of set one and it’s labeled as an audience recording and if so, the crowd was very quiet unlike the previous night at NightStage. Even during Fishman’s solo on “A Train”, you can hear a pin drop when it gets quiet. The song selection is certainly better than the night before, possibly because the band knows that the fans are there. It’s not simply a gig in Boston, on the nightclub circuit. The show gets off to a bumpy start with a rough “Dinner and a Movie”. Page’s organ doesn’t sound mic’d up. The rhythm just sounds off. Page and Trey do hook up to save the song at about the 2:30 mark and now we’re on for the show. “You Enjoy Myself” is solid, especially from the 10-minute mark on with a nice lead from Trey. “Esther” is top-shelf and nailed from to top-to-bottom. The song has come a long way in a short amount of time. “A Train” again has a great solo from Fishman. “Split Open and Melt” has also come a long way in a short time. Mike and Fish hit that groove strong and it’s slowly showing the signs of the behemoth it will become. Also, the weird Fish solo in the middle has been dropped. “The Lizards” is played a little faster than previous versions and this is a beauty. Again, you can tell the crowd is on board with how quiet it is for the “If I Were a Dog” outro. Gorgeous. A solid 1-2 combo of “Golgi” and “Good Times Bad Times” ends the set in high spirits. Mike really drops bass bombs during “Good Times”. This is a really solid set and a welcome rebound from NightStage. I recommend checking it out.