Spring of 1998 for Phish consisted of four shows (the "Island" tour: Rhode Island and Long Island), Trey’s first solo performance at the newly-opened Higher Ground (with Eight Foot Fluorescent Tubes), and some time practicing in Vermont. Phish spent most of May and the beginning of June in Bearsville’s Studio A recording and mixing material for their 10th album, The Story of The Ghost. There was a photo shoot with photographer Loren Haynes in New York City on June 5th during which the band donned a variety of costumes for poses including Fish in leather chaps and the band in all-white suits. Soon after that, the band began preparing for their fifth trip to Europe and their third headline tour abroad in less than two years (see TMIPH June 1997). In a period when the band was firmly established as an arena act in the States, the Summer 1998 Europe performances provided a chance for the band to revisit the intimate club and theater settings of times past.
This European tour was also unique in that the band rented much of their gear at each venue (they played three nights in Copenhagen, a festival, two more gigs in Prague and three in Barcelona). Paul Languedoc recalls hauling the majority of the band’s gear in about twenty Anvil road cases and having to check it as luggage on each flight. Because of this, each case had to meet unusually stringent size and weight restrictions. Paul notes that Fish brought only his snare drum and cymbals and rented drum kits while Page brought just his Clavinet and rented the remainder of his setup at each venue also. Stage Tech Pete Carini recalls arriving in Copenhagen, Denmark on the night before technical rehearsal, checking into the hotel with the crew, and going out for dinner and a beer. By the time dinner was over, the streets were swarming with what he estimates to be 50,000 people watching a giant screen showing Denmark’s World Cup Soccer Team playing against Nigeria. Although Denmark was the underdog, they prevailed over the Nigerian team 4-1 and the resulting celebration made the headlines and a huge impression on Carini. "They definitely know how to party over there," he reports.
Early on June 29th, the crew began setting up in The Grey Hall in Freetown Christiania (an anarchistic community within Copenhagen) for that night’s technical rehearsal and the three upcoming shows. Technical rehearsal is basically a full stage rehearsal where the PA and other gear including lights are set up and the band plays in order to give the crew a chance to carefully check all the equipment. At this particular rehearsal, the band seized the opportunity to run through a lot of their new material.
At the first show on June 30th at The Grey Hall, the band soundchecked a number of new songs along with the notable addition of the rarely performed Ha Ha Ha. Set I included the first performance of Water in the Sky in its current incarnation (Mike describes it as "the arpeggiated version"). The first set also included Stash > Cities and the premiere performance of Roggae. Set II opened with the first performance of The Moma Dance which consists of the instrumental Black-Eyed Katy with newly-added vocals. Trey then taught the audience "The Moma Dance" steps and the band proceeded through the set, which also featured Antelope, Ha Ha Ha and Mike’s Song. The public debut of Brian and Robert comprised the encore.
Production Manager Hadden Hippsley shares his thoughts about The Grey Hall and the 1998 summer European tour: "One year ago we were off to Copenhagen to begin a short European tour. For me, I was not only looking forward to a tour that involved only four load ins and outs, I was looking forward to seeing a friend of mine named Signe Birkedal. Signe is a promoter rep with DKB which was the company promoting our first series of shows at the Grey Hall. We (the crew) develop many close relationships with promoter reps across the globe as we continue to work with them in their regions every time we visit. I have known Signe since 1985 when Al Jarreau played a couple of arenas in Denmark. It seemed that at least once a year the two of us would be working together again with some artist in some venue. This trip to The Grey Hall would be another chance to catch up with each other’s lives and rekindle a friendship."
"The Grey Hall lived up to it’s name…and then some. The best part of the venue was the great custom load in ramp from the floor to the stage. Our production office was probably the worst part, for it was an old circus wagon that lacked the attention that the other wagon received since it (the other one) was used for the Artists’ dressing room. I do believe Richard (our Tour Manager) went through two cans of Lysol attempting to disinfect all surfaces. The crew’s greatest discovery was a simple take-out only pizza parlor not too far from the gig. We don’t remember too much more about the venue, but even today we still all crave that pizza every time we get lousy pizza on the bus after a show. This venue also proves our belief that the worse the gig is for us, the better the gig is for the band."
As July began, Phish played two more nights at The Grey Hall. They proceeded to play at the Midtfyns Festival in Denmark, two shows in Prague and three more in Barcelona. Then, the band and crew returned to the U.S. to quickly prepare for the U.S. summer tour, which began July 15th in Portland, Oregon (only five days after the last Barcelona show on July 10th).