After getting a chance to listen to Trey’s tour opener yesterday, here are some reflections on the show, specifically the new tracks which have potential for Phish. First off, the band sounds well rehearsed, and more than ready for their three week undertaking. Their weeks of practice were audible in the precise horn parts and multi-layer vocal harmonies throughout the night. Trey’s interplay with the horns on many of the jams stood out as the most impressive qualities of the opening show. Sounding crisp as ever, Trey led his band through the first of 16 shows with notable fluidity, improvisational confidence, and strong melodic sensibility. Here are the four new songs the band brought to the table in Charlottesville.
The final track on Party Time had only seen the light of the day at Indio’s soundcheck before Charlottesville’s debut. Featuring an outstanding horn arrangement, with the section playing many lead melodies we will eventually hear from Trey, the brass shone brightly in the composed section and opening half of the jam. This entire piece contained solid interplay between Trey and the horns, exchanging lines and melodies, sharing the lead. Then the piece opened up a bit, and Trey took off with a series of delicate licks that foreshadowed where this song will not only go throughout the month, but eventually with Phish. Despite a limited rhythmic dynamic from his players, this song got into engaging territory, providing the highlight of the first set and one of the most exciting moments of the show within the grand scheme of things.
Trey explained that this is one of two songs that he and The Dude of Life wrote and recorded over sushi on a multi-track recorder app on Trey’s iPhone. The straight forward blues-rocker with heavy female backing vocals borders on a honky-tonk song, and it seems bound to remain within the confines of TAB. A relatively uninteresting track, this one didn’t really do anything for me after a few listens.
Trey transformed this song, which takes the form of a barbershop quartet on Party Time, into an upbeat jazzy number for his Classic TAB tour. Likening swing jazz of the flapper era, the piece also sounds plucked directly from the soundtrack of a 1950’s sock hop. A fun piece to tack onto the end of a show, this seems like it won’t grow into much more. However, this song may resurface in the Phish catalog as an a capella piece.
The second song that Trey and The Dude wrote over sushi blossomed in the encore as a gorgeous piece that virtually oozes the soul of Phish. With stunning melodies, vocal harmonies, and an overall transcendent feel, “Show of Life” will be an amazing addition to the Phish catalog, and I’d be shocked if it wound up anywhere else. In this version, Trey’s dripping solo blends with a warm canvas of horns, providing a cathartic preview of what could be a summertime anthem. With the embellishment of Phish, this song could become modern classic.
Show Notes: I still maintain that “A Case of Ice and Snow” would make an outstanding Phish ballad, but whether or not it will ever make the jump remains to be seen. Phish could give the poignant piece its proper treatment, creating far more lush soundscapes to back the fragile music and soulful guitar parts, an aspect which doesn’t really translate in TAB. One of Trey’s earlier tunes, “Curlew’s Call,” seems like an ideal song for this lineup, incorporating all parts into a polyrhythmic palette, and allowing Trey to freely emote over the top of these textures. This rarely-played track provided an exciting kick-start to the second set before the band kicked in with its staple, “Sand.” The horn section which usually greatly enhances “Sand,” creating a sort of TAB-fusion, laid back this time, allowing Trey to dominate most of the piece. Only chiming in at the end of the jam, adding jazz-like comps to Trey’s searing playing, the horns will play larger roles in “Sands” to come. Playing a slower and sparser version of the song than Phish, TAB allows for more dynamic work by Trey, as the sole spotlight shines upon his musical story telling. There will be many more exciting versions of “Sand” than this one before the month is done.
An added horn arrangement and backing vocals didn’t do “Valentine” any favors. Turning the once-ethereal song into a retro-’70’s sounding anthem with generic TAB accoutrements, a song that seemed destined for Phish may have carved out a niche in Trey’s other project. Red’s climbing solo loses its magic-carpet feel combined with a fast, chugging beat and horns stabs backing him. With such additions, it’s difficult to know Trey’s current intentions for “Valentine.” But far more exciting was the inclusion of “Goodbye Head,” a complex piece that had always seemed destined for Phish at some point. The complex song that highlighted GRAB tour, Mike and Trey’s 2006 collaboration with Marco Benevento and Joe Russo, has been rearranged for this current horn lineup, lending a bolder feel to the delicate epic, but this song will unquestionably translate quite well to Phish should Trey choose to cross it over. But as the composed section ended, and the dreamy, “Reba-esque” jam was nowhere to be found as the band barrelled into “Mr. Completely.” An Incredibly disappointing development, let’s hope that Trey decided to leave the best part of the song for the true improvisational maestros to define. However, the band didn’t leave much time to consider that as “Completely” got into the most full-on, extensive, and danciest jam of the night. Everyone on stage contributed to the driving groove while Trey took liberty and let loose – simply great stuff. The set ended with an energetic one-two punch of “Night Speaks to a Woman” and “Push On Til the Day,” two songs that allowed the band to exercise their chops before a five-song double encore capped the benefit for the Kristine Anastasio Manning Memorial Fund.
Note: Anyone attending these upcoming TAB shows, photos are needed! Please send any contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Jams of the Day:
“Mr. Completely” 2.08.10 II
The highlight of Trey’s opening night of tour.
Another classic, this one from Summer ’97.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
11.15.96 Kiel Center, St. Louis, MO < Torrent
11.15.96 Kiel Center, St.Louis, MO < Megaupload
“Tonight’s second set has been brought to you by the letter M and the number 420,” spoke Trey after the “M” set of legend. Smack in the middle of Fall ’96, this show stood out as a highlight as soon as it happened.
I. Wilson, The Divided Sky, Bouncing Around the Room, Character Zero, Punch You In the Eye > Prince Caspian, Ginseng Sullivan, Train Song, Chalk Dust Torture, Taste, Cavern
II: Makisupa Policeman > Maze, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Split Open and Melt, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, Mike’s Song > Sleeping Monkey, Mean Mr. Mustard*, Weekapaug Groove**
E: Funky Bitch**
**w/ John Popper on harmonica
Source: AKG 460