Page and His Piano

6.22.10 (Parker Harrington)

Along with Phish’s retro-sized Fall Tour came many strands of the band’s musical roots. Churning out tightly wound jams akin to years past, Phish honed their improvisational skills with precise interplay each and every show. The four band members often engaged in equitable excursions without a clear lead player, thus the entire quartet could shine in relation to one another. In this context, Page emerged from Trey’s eternal shadow and stepped up his game, specifically, on piano. Returning to his personal roots, Page left many of his sundry keyboards aside when Phish got into serious business. If the band dipped into psychedelic seas, odds were that Page had firmly planted himself at the piano and gushed melodic styles. This trend gave even the heaviest “Sands,” “Pipers,” “Stashes,” and “Bowies” a distinctly stripped down feel, infusing an old-school layer into this new-school mixture. The late ’90s and post-hiatus represented experimental eras for Phish, and especially for Page, as he surrounded himself with more and more instruments. In juxtaposition to those eras, The Chairman of the Boards took a step backwards down the number line during Fall 2010, as his prominent piano offerings became a defining feature of Phish jams all season long.

One example of Page’s full-throttle piano assault came in the midst of Amherst’s stellar “Stash.” Playing quietly at the onset of the jam, he dotted the background with delicate melodic runs. Page comped Trey’s leads out of the gate, providing plenty of space for Red’s audacious leads; but behind the guitar narrative, he began to loosen up by interlacing piano chords with Trey’s lines. The two locked into each other’s phrases and painted the top half with sinister co-leadership. Joining Trey in a melodic switch that reached for the heavens, Page offered lead piano lines that harmonized beautifully with Trey’s melodic geyser. Moving between block chords and dizzying melodies, Page painted the music with maniacally rolling patterns. Never stepping off the piano for a moment, Page brought creative offerings to this “Stash” from beginning to end, building the final peak step-in-step with Trey.

8.10.10 (G.Lucas)

A second prime conversion of Page and his piano came in Manchester’s blistering tour-highlight, “Ghost.” The leadless quality of the band’s conversation defined this jam, as all four band members contributed equal parts for the duration. An example of an ego-less symbiosis, the band allowed plenty of room for all members other to speak, while complimenting each other’s ideas perfectly. Though Mike, Page, Trey and Fish were all at the top of their game during this segment, Page’s fluid piano leads stood out vibrantly. As the band settled into a groove, Page hopped right on piano adding sparse melodies to the burgeoning mixture. As Mike and Trey engaged in full, Page hung right with them – at first offering minimalist backing patterns and then flowing into complementary leads. For a short period he layered another keyboard atop his piano, lending a darker feel to the jam while still keeping the piano prominent in the upper-most layer of the music. As the jam picked up pace, so did Page’s offerings, and he stepped boldly into the thick of the band’s ascending path. He and Trey bounced melodic phrases off each other as they climbed into the most dramatic segment of the jam, and as they reached a furious peak, Mike, Trey, and Page rolled into a sonic ball of thunder far greater than the sum of their parts. Drifting into the ambient-groove, post-peak section, Page is the one that first hits the sublime melody that Trey echoes and turns into the theme of the jam’s denouement. Engaging in game of spiritual tag, Page wound his majestic piano phrases around his own melody that Trey hypnotically repeated, eventually blending into “Mango Song.” Contributing as much to the Manchester “Ghost” as anyone, Page, again, favored the piano for its entirety.

10.31.10 - Boardwalk Hall (Graham Lucas)

There can be no discussion of Page, piano, and Fall Tour without a mention of the band’s masterful cover of Little Feat’s Waiting For Columbus. Page’s role in the musical costume was playing the parts of Little Feat co-founder Bill Payne, considered by many contemporaries to be one of the finest rock and blues pianists of all time. And Page certainly did him justice. Anchoring many segments of Waiting For Columbus with Payne’s piano leads, Page interpreted the Americana feel of the album with authenticity. One of his personal highlights came in the piano-drenched “Dixie Chicken,” a song designed to showcase Payne’s piano chops and with an extended solo. Page seized his moment and ran with it, playing the bluesy parts with a legitimate down-home feel. The rest of the band took a back seat between verses as Page ticked the ivories like the maestro he is – and the one he was impersonating. Taking center stage, Page’s piano parts lit up the room through the middle stages of the piece, as other instruments came in with gradual support. Building from his solo into the next verse, Page slaughtered the piano parts as if they were his own. Lending a credibility to the album’s most popular song, Page stood out as the star of “Dixie Chicken.” Following the final verse, Page never missed a beat, joining the band in a seamless segue into “Tripe Face Boogie.”

10.23.10 (M. Wagner)

These are but three examples of Page’s return to piano prominence throughout the past season, and the list could continue for quite a while. As Phish moved backwards into the future, their keyboard player did the same. Playing strong piano parts in the context of heavy improvisation, Page shied from textural backing as he jumped into the fray with his bandmates on the instrument that brought him there. Though Page certainly didn’t forget his other keyboards, the resurgence of his piano mastery provided his most significant development of a transformative tour.


Jam of the Day:

Light” 10.22.10 II

Another piano-centric fall highlight from Providence.




7.8.1999 Virginia Beach Ampitheatre, Virginia Beach, VA

Mp3 Torrent, Megaupload < Links

VA. Beach Amphitheatre

Somehow this Summer ’99 gem slipped by the archive. Coming hot out of the box with a twenty-plus minute “Fee” jam, this show got going early. But Phish’s most impressive playing came in the second set sequence of “Birds > If I Only Had a Brain > Caspian.” This transcendent section of music held up as a summer highlight, and a closing combo of “Tube” and “Simple” came as a pleasant and energetic surprise. Fishman’s “Terrapin” encore gave a tongue-in-cheek nod to the stunning “Terrapin Station” encore from the previous year, and everybody went home laughing. In the midst of a great summer, this show often slips through the cracks, but it has plenty to offer. This one goes out as a reader request for Luke. Enjoy!

I: Julius, Fee > Guyute, Dirt, Nellie Kane, Stash, Cavern

II: Birds of a Feather > If I Only Had a Brain > Prince Caspian, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Saw It Again, Sleep, Meatstick, Tube, Simple

E: Terrapin > Hold Your Head Up, Character Zero

Source: Unknown

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520 Responses to “Page and His Piano”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    later I’m gonna puff some heady noggets

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    Its kind of a bumnmer Bill the K is being so nogative

  3. sumodie Says:

    I posted this last night:

    Anyone wanting to spin a Mike show I highly recommend the 11-26-10 Portland ME show with Fishman who sat in for most of the show

    I skipped Mike this time around but have really enjoyed most of the first set on the pod (still haven’t finished 2nd set)

    Excellent / interesting versions of I’m Deranged, Andelman’s Yard, Traveled too Far>Sound, Makisupa, and especially Littte Feat’s Easy to Slip (no, this tune is not from WFC), Cities, & Suskind Hotel > 15 Steps. Perhaps it’s Fishman’s influence, who knows…

    Between the two shows I caught last year and some of the (warranted) chat here, I was reluctant to see/spin a show, but I’m a little bummed I missed this one

    Someone on the greenboard has been upping mp3s of the whole tour, but the Portland ME show has yet to appear:

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Billy K has always come off as a grumpy old deuche . is this reality? I have no clue.

  5. kayatosh Says:

    plams: class of 94.

  6. kayatosh Says:

    organic noggets

  7. EL Duderino Says:

    If its the same Billy K that I’m thinking of Palmer, then it’s the freebase pipe

  8. kayatosh Says:

    haven’t heard it in a while . . . Greek light.

    commence liftoff.

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    Billy has a hard edged personality. Always has. Doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about anything. Totally unafraid to get in anyone’s face at any time for any or no reason. Basically he was tight with Jerry and Mickey and a couple of the roadies and that’s pretty much it…he had a pretty big rep for fucking with people’s heads backstage and stuff…


  10. kayatosh Says:

    damn, el dude. you seem to be right on the tip of what all these musicians are doing for recreation.

  11. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kaya. You guys have a great team this year. Freshman Irving is the real deal. Will most likely be a top 5 NBA draft pick next year. No worries. Coach K will reload. College hoops is my favorite sport. Love the passion and competition. Plus, they have a real championship.

    St johns ( my team) plays Duke later this year.

  12. Leo Weaver Says:

    Happy Birthday Purps! Sounds like you’ve got a pretty good celebration plan laid out.

    Re: MSG re-release…I’ve got one 1/1 ticket for release right now. Any takers???

  13. sumodie Says:

    Lest you think I’m bagging on Page day, a couple shows from his hiatus band, Vida Blue, have recently been re-seeded at etree:

    Vida Blue 2002-04-26 Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA

    Vida Blue 2004-06-05 The Fillmore SF CA

  14. EL Duderino Says:

    It all depends on what “folk lore” you hear from what source…

  15. EL Duderino Says:

    You ever wonder why Bill’s eyes twitch like crazy while he plays drumzz????

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    have you ever noticed that the Bills “Kreutzmann” and “Murray” have never been seen together….?

    food for thought!

  17. Aquaman Says:

    RE: Billy K.

    He should maintain some cool and not trash Bobby and Phil, nor blow Warren like that. C’mon Billy, grab a glass of Rum Nog chill out and try to retain some of your dig-nog-ty

    This goes counter to what the Ferengi talk about since we all know:

    #109 – Rules of Acquisition – Dig-nog-ty and an empty sack is worth the sack.


  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    bill was indeed a legendary powder hog back in the day. rumor says he still parties hard, but I have no idea if that’s the case, or what the details are.

  19. EL Duderino Says:

    you have to read between the lines with these statements from former GD members…

  20. Chuck D Says:

    have you ever wondered what phantasmal magical material Kang’s wingz are made of?

  21. kayatosh Says:

    i love college hoops, as well.
    on a duke wiki kick and was reading the sad tale of jason williams. 2001 national champion and 2002 player of the year. gets drafted second after yao and then effectively ends his career with a helmetless, contract violating motorcycle crash. sad.

  22. Chuck D Says:

    he can’t party too hard, or at least knows when to take a night off… he did play with phish, the most sober band in the world.

  23. EL Duderino Says:

    If you notice… at one point or another they’re all assholes, greedy, stupid what have you at some point since Jer’s death…

    You’d think that after living a magical life together that they would have more fond memories and feelings for each other

  24. Aquaman Says:

    It’s X-mas time so Egg drink by the Yule is now…..the Nog Log.

  25. kayatosh Says:

    greek light gets as twisted as some 95 stash’s in the middle and then emerges a sweet white swan.

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