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. Emperor Palpatine Says:

    Beware of nog lip.

  2. EL Duderino Says:

    @ T3

    I would love to see some dude pull one of those quick back flips and break all spun at a show

  3. Mr.Palmer Says:

    ^^^ go to a show w/ Willowed…..

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Palmer

    Willowed “breaks”?

  5. Mr.Palmer Says:

    electric boogaloo style…

  6. Chuck D Says:

    he’ll break your will to live.

  7. Chuck D Says:


  8. lumpyhead Says:

    what? how’s everbody doin? Haven’t been able to check in today

  9. Lycanthropist Says:

    got kinda of quiet around here.

  10. Lycanthropist Says:

    been watching Fringe

    6 episodes deep into Season 2.

    Like it pretty much

    Can be a little cheesy around the edges.. but for the most part a pretty cool metaphysical story arc goin on.

  11. JeffieM Says:

    Spinning Springsteen’s Nebraska album for probably the fourth time in 3 days. Absolutely loving the rawness.

    how are you doing tonight lycan?

  12. Lycanthropist Says:

    doin pretty good

    just doin a little hustle at the GnG..

    got some CF rehearsal later

    and then gonna go check out some Snarky Puppy tonight at the Hippo.

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    we’re watching Fringe too @lycan but are still in Season 1 cause we’re watching it with a friend we see about once a week at most

    I have caught some general spoilers about the larger story arc, which is fine

    I agree with what you said…it has its hokey moments but for the most part it’s quite enjoyable and interesting

    it fills that Lost hole to a degree – it’s not as good, at least for me, but it’s the same general kind of show and it’s strong enough that it doesn’t seem lame in comparison. which is more of a compliment than it might sound like

  14. lumpyhead Says:

    Proidence light is nice…I think manchester light is my favorite.

  15. Lycanthropist Says:

    the special fx are done quite well
    got my boy Michael Giacchino doin the score

    love the drug doctor Walter Bishop

    Josh Jackson kinda grown on me
    still a weak link…

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    I definitely think the second half of season 1 has been much, much stronger than the first half, and it just seems to be building on itself

    certainly that show has the highest incidence of LSD use or references of anything I’ve ever seen on TV…even tho whatsername seems to come down to lucidity with narratively convenient speed after each time she has to go in the tank or whatever

    it’s fun to see a show with a genius acid freak as a lead character

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    I agree @lumpy, my fave from Fall at least…they’re all somewhere between really good and great though…

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    yeh the Walter Bishop character really carries the show for me.

    Astrid works pretty well as the lab assistant too.

    Some of the cases are better than others.

    Season 2 suffers from typical sophomore issues, such as the “Oh we got picked up! What do we do now?”

    But it is starting to pick up again.

    Liking it.

  19. joe Says:

    just got the strangest urge for a nice icy-cold bong-hit, not for the actual getting high part but the sound and feel of the tube. at work now and sans apparatus at home, so hopefully it’s a fleeting feeling. maybe that’s what I should ask for for christmas…although, as a man in his late 30’s, I just feel strange about asking for anything for christmas. I know that makes me difficult, but really save the time and money and just write me a nice card with warm sentiments and I’m happy.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    “monster of the week-itis” is always an ongoing issue for shows like that

    the best eps for me are definitely the ones more tightly focused on the big story, much like Lost

  21. joe Says:

    and on topic, Page’s piano work in Jesus Left Chicago from Augusta was very nice.

  22. joe Says:

    dipped in for an extra solo run before Trey could get there. (but when trey did, it was for some inspired “blues” playing. or at least as close to the blues as trey will get)

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    you’re missing out @joe

    I love putting together huge wishlists on Amazon and and Thinkgeek and places like that and seeing what I end up with

    if I don’t do that, I’ll get boxes full of horrible sweaters and the like so I might as well just put it out there and try to get something decent

    plus the idea of my extended family and in-laws trying to figure out WTF all the African CDs and tripped out graphic novels and weird Thinkgeek trip toys and stuff are about is pretty hilarious to me

  24. JeffieM Says:

    I can relate, Joe. Last Saturday night, I was kicking it with my best friend that I grew up with who I only see on breaks from school. I decided to splurge on a 6 pack of Fat Tire instead of the typical PBR/Natty/Busch Light, and after a couple beers and a couple of bowls, I really wanted another beer but for the first time it had as much to do with the taste of good, real beer instead of the inebriation.

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    “just got the strangest urge for a nice icy-cold bong-hit, not for the actual getting high part but the sound and feel of the tube. ”

    you just need some O’Dweeds yo

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