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.

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Jam of the Day:

Light” 10.22.10 II

Another piano-centric fall highlight from Providence.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/ph2010-10-22t20.mp3]

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

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:

    I like that Deerhunter album pretty well @DF! Though it sounds more like an Atlas Sound album to me, but I like that project too so w/e. A lot of folks around here really miss the weirder old Deerhunter style but that seems like overthinking it

  2. Guyute711 Says:

    Kenny G, Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow are up for awards. What f’n year is this?

  3. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    @jdub – in case you miss it, i answered you, bottom page’d

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    doctors have a very high addiction/abuse rate re: pharmies

  5. Aquaman Says:

    @Jdub,

    My guess, slightly educated at that, is any sort of fishing related job. Lobsterman, crab boat, long liner, etc.

    My buddy who lives year round on Nantucket says the real workers, the boatman, etc, suffer from one of the highest rates of heroin abuse and suicide.

    There are a shit ton of overcast, gray, fish free days for those dudes. Trapped in a prison / paradise the size of Nantucket.

    -Aqua-

  6. voopa Says:

    Shouldn’t have generalized, but there is a lot of crap on the Grammy list. Like every year.

  7. jdub Says:

    I figured it would be some random profession hooked on pharmies or something chemical.

  8. Guyute711 Says:

    There are 109 categories for the Grammys. Just with a quick glance it seems like there may be about 5 bands or songs who may deserve an award. Mainstream sucks.

  9. jdub Says:

    Going back a page or two with this but one of the endearing traits of Phish is the lack of public drama amongst band members. I hope this trend continues.

  10. EllJefe Says:

    If we are comparing sports and music here’s my thoughts.

    Soccer(Football)= Jazz(or Phish) Every player needs to be skilled, dexterous and have highly tuned Improvisation skills. This is on top of a looser “game plan” or tactics.

    Basketball(pro)= jam session/practice for the regular season, gig for the playoffs

    American Football= rock concert by your average hard rock band. 4/4 time,pretty dull, LOTS of down time (re:new song etc). Very little room for spontaneity. QB’s get to stretch a bit a la guitar solo keyboard solo or drum solo. Very scripted. Can”t miss your cues etc.

    Baseball (regular) season= elevator music (but at least you can buy beer till the 7th inning)
    Baseball (post) season= the national anthem but a REALLY great version that can bring that nostalgic tear to your eye

  11. EllJefe Says:

    Oh and Hockey= F’ing Metal up your Ass era Metallica!

  12. Guyute711 Says:

    Freezing, can’t move at all
    Screaming, can’t hear my call
    I am dying to live
    Cry out
    I’m trapped under ice

  13. Al Says:

    Page’s pano playin on REBA from Augusta is my example for his new quality in playing. Check the first minutes into the jam…

  14. Leo Weaver Says:

    @Duke…you’ve got reply mail

  15. yematt Says:

    Hey BB!
    Been a very long time since i’ve posted. Life has been keeping me pretty busy lately, with a new slf along with other accouterments. still making time to for coffee/phishthoughts though, wouldn’t dream of cutting that out of my day. Love this Page writeup today, Miner, very well said. Hope everyone is doing well here, hope to check in more often but I just wanted to say hello. See you at the Garden!

  16. sumodie Says:

    @jdub: doctors!

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    pffftttt

    there’s a whole lot more going on in football than it seems a lot of folks realize

    more interesting things happen in the 6 seconds it takes to execute a simple off tackle run on 2nd and 7 between any 2 randomly selected NFL teams than in an entire mind-bendingly tedious soccer tournament

    watching the games on DVR is the solution to the lag between plays….

    the idea that every move is or can be scripted is completely false. the fact is that most plays, on both offense and defense, are straight up high quality ensemble improv…it’s all about making reads and responding and many players have to make the SAME read and respond in unison

    it’s all very well to talk up soccer but that perception of football is just…well, it’s evident that you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg, shall we say

  18. yematt Says:

    reading back a bit.. re: alcohol back stage.
    I was at a friend of mines party a month or so ago and he introduced me to a friend of his who commented on my phish shirt. turns out she is a part of the catering team for phish. she tours around with them on one of their many buses.. to get to my point she told me that there is no alcohol allowed backstage. very random that i met this girl, I was a bit dumbfounded when she does this for this band.. she’s not even a fan! couldn’t name a single song. some people have all the luck.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    I mean, no offense or nothin’ to soccer fans. Whatever floats your boat I guess.

  20. garretc Says:

    Hey Mr. C, do you know if 4/10/1972 is an official GD release? My friend and I want to hear the post-Black Beauty Dead show, but that’s the only show of the Fillmore run that’s not on etree or the archive…

  21. Chuck D Says:

    “couldn’t name a single song.”

    heard this about their baby-sitter/nanny too. they dont want phans back stage; they want people who will perform the task they’ve been hired to do.

    example: if they hired me, page’s hot pockets would not be ready during encore break because i’d be getting down to the set-ending 2001 > Cavern. and really, could page blame me?

  22. jdub Says:

    My example of Pages brilliance this fall:

    McGrupp at Utica, breathes new life into the piano solo. I love it.

  23. yematt Says:

    haha exactly! @ Chuck D

    this girl couldn’t believe how excited i was that i had just met someone affiliated with this phish band.

  24. sumodie Says:

    there’s a whole lot more going on in football than it seems a lot of folks realize

    Same goes for soccer 8)

    I much prefer fluid sports like soccer & basketball rather than stop n start games like football & baseball

  25. Robear Says:

    some of you cats have reached -2 status for the soccer talk today.

    better luck tomorrow!

    Pot growers smoke a bunch of herb. Not sure about other professions.

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