Matthews Arena was/is your typical ice rink/basketball stadium but it carries its fair share of history: Opening in 1910, Matthews Arena (formerly Boston Arena) was the first home of the Boston Bruins (pre-dating the old Boston Garden) and is in fact the oldest indoor hockey arena still in use in America.
1992 was a groundbreaking and solid year for Phish and after a great November and December tour they wrapped it all up with a killer New Years run. The first two shows at the Palace in New Haven are classics in their own right and the night before’s show in Springfield (with the epic Timber Ho! bust-out) is an all-timer. After three great shows it might have been understandable if the New Years show wasn’t up to snuff, but the boys delivered what I feel to be a great, somewhat underrated show:
The 1992 NYE show upheld the 3-set tradition that started the year before and continues to this day (thankfully). As we were going into the show, they passed out some leaflets with some new secret language symbols that were to be used throughout the show to confuse the folks listening at home on the radio (show was simulcast on WBCN). Opening up with Buried Alive (always a good sign), it is a fairly straightforward version that switches gears into a Poor Heart that picks up steam after an initial gaff in the beginning. Maze follows and delivers the goods. 1992 was the year of the Maze and there are so many great early versions from this period. Other set highlights include a typically good (read: great) vintage Divided Sky, a really sweet Foam, and my pick for set highlight, the Antelope closer which is a rager.
The second set opens with a great Runaway Jim, a song that really started coming into it’s own in 1992. After a typical It’s Ice>Sparkle combo the band starts the centerpiece of the set, a twenty-minute Forbins>Mockingbird during which they hoist Brad Sands above the crowd dressed as the Famous Mockingbird. A very good version with a cool narration that makes this one worth checking out for sure. The rest of the set is good too with a tight Stash and wraps up with a raucous Good Times Bad Times.
At this point, I could have left happy, but then I would have missed the Mike’s Song opener. When Mike’s opens a set, it’s a treat. When it opens a third set, it’s even more awesomer. Especially on New Years. I think this is the first modern-era Mike’s that was played without Hydrogen in between Weekapaug, instead substituting it for the New Years Countdown and Auld Lang Syne. The Mike’s is short but sweet with Trey telling the audience to make the most of the last minute of the year. People were getting the fuck down. Auld Lang Syne is well played and the celebratory Weekapaug is just pure cream. I love the transition between the two as well. As if this was not enough, it’s followed up by Harpua>Kung>Harpua? Really? It was my first Kung ( I was a noob once too) and the first version in over 400 shows. I was pretty delirious. This is followed by a gorgeous Squirming Coil with a sweet Page piano outro that is enhanced with some very pretty guitar lines from Trey. From out of the ashes, the Dude of Life bounds across the stage pushing a lawnmower as the band goes into the Seals and Crofts classic, Diamond Girl. I for one did not know it was the Dude of Life because he was dressed up as an old man, but it was pretty cool, in a comic relief kind of way. Llama closes the third set and the band comes back for a Carolina>Fire encore that sends everyone out smiling into the night. This is a very solid New Years show in my opinion, and it is a little bit overlooked. In listening back to this show for the first time in long time for this post, I realized that it is packed with quality playing. After the show, I had the greatest falafel I have ever had in my life (surpassing Mamoun’s even) from a truck outside. It was so bomb. The next day as we were driving around looking for an open restaurant we popped on WBCN and they were replaying the whole simulcast so we got to listen to a soundboard of the show the very next morning. While not at all a big deal by today’s standards, we were totally bugging (and psyched)! Of course everyone had taped the live feed or the simulcast as well so this show was widely available in high quality directly after the show.
Here is a link to a lossless audience source (Neumann RSM 191′s). I have never heard this one but downloading now. Seed comes from KS so I am guessing this one sounds good.
An MP3 of the great sounding matrix is here:
The first set Antelope is a burner:
Also, check out the Harpua>Kung>Harpua: