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

Tags: , ,

520 Responses to “Page and His Piano”

  1. lastwaltzer Says:

    Granted his comment about not having warren in the band is beyond silly, I don’t think he said anything off base. Furthur isn’t do anything different then any of the other post jerry projects and bob does keep a slow tempo. Whats the big deal? We’ve cut through all this before but I can easily see why one might be offended by seeing his old band mates playing with a copy cat.

    I can’t say I’ve been a fan of billy’s post jerry projects but it does seem like he interested in doing something other than just playing the classics. Rythm devils tour had a bunch of new tunes as does this 7 walkers project.

  2. EL Duderino Says:

    Billy would be pretty stupid to smoke coke at his age…
    I would doubt he’s still huffing the free-base pipe

  3. EL Duderino Says:

    I think Booby keeps a slow tempo ‘cuz he’s older and doesn’t have the strong wind pipes like he did IMO

  4. Aquaman Says:

    El dude,

    Exactly! They should get around the Nog Log, hash it out and then dance to some sort of man-pagan ritual while naked with billionaire’s.

  5. DukeOfLizards Says:


    Possibly interested in the 1/1 – drop me some electrons

    itbofthement AT gmail DOT com

  6. voopa Says:

    The Vida Blue studio album has some really cool stuff on it.

  7. lastwaltzer 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.”chuck

    phish may be sober, that doesn’t mean bill was. Remember those glasses LLFA!?!?! Not to mention the playing wasn’t so hot.

  8. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Last year, I sneezed in the middle of a big gulp of my favorite holiday drink.

    I was the Nog Faced Boy.

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    @el dude’s observations re: the ongoing intraband soap opera that is the Dead family are pretty well on point

    there’s always some stupid drama unfolding. always was, at least since like 1973 or so.

    par for the course, sad as that may be

    that being said I have no problem with what Billy said…he’s just speaking his mind

  10. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    who doesn’t have stupid drama in their life?

  11. lastwaltzer Says:


    I don’t, thats why I come here 😉

  12. garretc Says:



    “Nog Face Boy”…

    That’s too much sir!

  13. EL Duderino Says:

    Everyone says that Phish is a sober band…
    I don’t agree with this at all.

    We have to define “sober” first maybe.

    IMO Fishman and Gordon are still puffin’ herbs maybe not to extent as in the past but I do believe this. I think they also partake in good beer and wine drinking from time to time

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    a fair point. however the Dead family is infamous for drawn-out, recurring petty squabbles, whispering campaigns, behind-the-backery, fuck-your-buddyism et. al…which, as you say, is just the usual tedious social melodrama writ large and twisted through the lenses of rumor and drug induced derangement

  15. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i thought gordon never really even did puff….

  16. Chuck D Says:

    my “most sober band in the world” comment was meant to be taken with a singular large grain of salt.

  17. EL Duderino Says:

    @ DF

    Are you being serious?

  18. EL Duderino Says:

    not attacking Chuck D just discussing that notion

  19. Spasm Waiter Says:

    @Purps- Happy Birthday!!
    @Duder- I am sure you read and listened to the Gordeaux interviews but he says he’s sober in one of them. In fact I think he says the band is sober. Obviously “saying” and “being” are two different things but…

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    yes @dude. i thought i remembered hearing trey say something about gordon never really doing drugs yet he’s still the weirdest guy he knows

  21. Chuck D Says:

    /nod and i was just clarifying my position. the sarcasm doesn’t always come through on teh interwebz~

  22. EL Duderino Says:

    Sober in the sense that he’s not intoxicated everyday all day…

    Mike used to cruise the lot on his Mtn Bike looking for nugs constantly
    He talks about the feeling he got when he ate a hash brownie during the WMT ’93 show or one of those earlier LP releases.
    He’s rolling a joint in BSM

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    “Salvador Dali does not DO drugs; Salvador Dali IS drugs”

    Mike always reminded me of that quote.

    People mean different things by “sober” BTW

    a lot of folks who used to hit harder things now think of puffing herb as being sober, relatively speaking

    not an observation or guess re: band members, just a point of order

  24. EL Duderino Says:

    no alcohol in plain view back stage – Yes – But if Fish wanted a beer he couldn’t have one?
    No hard drugs of any kind back stage – Yes

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    also I totally support lying about puffing herbs if/when people are all up in your biznass if you have reason to keep it on the DL

    neither we nor anyone else are entitled to know those facts

Leave a Reply