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. sumodie Says:

    One of the Festivalography episodes has a funny story about Mike eating a pot brownie before going on stage at Lemonwheel….

    I don’t think Mike partakes of herb based on everything I’ve heard

  2. voopa Says:

    Bunch of crap

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    pretty sure there is no drinking backstage.

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    privacy matters fo’ sho’

    look what happened when PM said he had taken LSD…

  5. voopa Says:

    Peter Marshall?

  6. Chuck D Says:

    what year did he admit that LDude?

  7. Chuck D Says:

    paul mccartney (i hope)

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    fwiw, Kanye’s new album absolutely kills! Dude is a genius….The track “Monster” is the joint…

  9. kayatosh Says:

    paul molitor

  10. sumodie Says:

    ok, I recant knowing anything about Mike n herb, but the pot brownie story is hilarious.

    After splitting a pot brownie with his Dad, Mike reportedly told Trey he didn’t think he could stand up on stage. Trey told him no one, least of all the fans, would mind if he sat on the stage and played

    Guess Mike was able to stand when it came time to play

  11. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i found the new kanye to be heavily mediocre and even more heavily overrated, but that’s just me

  12. EL Duderino Says:

    It was on his birthday that he had taken it, said that to a reporter and blewy… I’ve heard a clip/interview of Paul about that situation

  13. JeffieM Says:

    Happy Birthday, Purp!
    my 21st was less than a month ago. an hour and a half and more than a few drinks into my reasonably large party, i stopped feeling guilty about the fact that i wasn’t going to be able to spend as much time as i’d like with everyone who came, I realized that a significant part of your 21st birthday party is just inviting your friends over to watch you get really drunk and have a lot of fun. So blow it up, and try and catch people on their way out the door.!

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    wanna check out a sick new album? – deerhunter – halcyon digest (my avatar)

  15. sumodie Says:

    fwiw, Kanye’s new album absolutely kills! Dude is a genius….

    Apparently his genius doesn’t translate well outside the studio…

  16. Guyute711 Says:

    fwiw, Kanye’s new album absolutely kills! Dude is a genius….The track “Monster” is the joint…

    Please tell me this is a bad joke.

    7. Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals
    For established duos or groups, with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.
    Don’t Stop Believin’ (Regionals Version)
    Glee Cast
    Track from: Journey To Regionals
    [Columbia Records].

    This song sucked over 20 years ago.

  17. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    how bout don’t bogart that joint – phish – 10.31.10 for that same category guyute

  18. lastwaltzer Says:

    grammys= biggest joke in the business. I mean lady gaga is up for a vocal award.

  19. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    oh i read that to mean vocals ONLY. whoops. thanks sour diesel

  20. Monsterpus Says:

    I’m half way through the Parke Puttebaugh Phish bio. It’s a great read. I know it’s going to get into some if the problems of the later years, but reading about the innocence, creativity and purity of the early days has made me rediscover the ‘it’ that made me love the band in the first place

  21. jdub Says:

    Random question related to drugz:

    Aside from being an artist anyone know the profession with the highest rate of drug usage?

    I don’t know the answer but amongst woodworkers, my profession, it seems the majority of my peers puff hard all day long. Then we burnout and go out of business if we don’t quit burning all day first. Woodworkers are the worst businessman regardless.

    That is all, carry on.

  22. Guyute711 Says:

    Doesn’t Homer have a grammy? On a similar note my 20 yr reunion for HS is this summer. I am thinking of rocking the astronaut suit with a cowboy hat and gold chain with dollar sign medallion.

  23. JeffieM Says:

    I saw a decent amount of stuff i knew and liked in the rock and alt categories, but a lot of that was appealling to my hipster side. A lot of the top Rock stuff was from people who were more popular 25+ years ago.

  24. Aquaman Says:

    Say what you want Voopa.

    Being a native Detroiter I am contractually obligated to mention to you that “Love the Way You Lie” is a great tune and SHOULD be record of the year.

    Record not Album.

    Actually in vane of learning something new everyday. Voopa taught me I had no clue how many categories there are for grammy’s. Answer = a shit ton.


  25. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    @jdub – wall street would be my guess. i did a lot of research about drugs on wall street. crazy shit

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