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. KfL Says:

    just gave the worcester jim a proper listen

    it is definitely better on sbd, i’ve only ever had a below avg aud

    some great spots, but surprising how little ground they cover in an hour… lot of down time

    really like the weekapaug jam at the end. i bet more than a few were losing their skulls a little, wondering how they missed the mike’s

    all in all, for my money i’ll take the disease>split combo. $.02

  2. willowed Says:

    Good thing I popped in when I did.

    How you boys doin?

  3. guyforget Says:

    what’s up all, haven’t commented in a while, but felt if necessary to let you all know about the hookup i called in for NYE. I have done about 1.2M in business this year with one of my vendors, so i called in a favor: 4 NYE tix to Phish at MSG in the loge level. His problem. Just emailed me confirmation from stubhub for the tickets ($1950!!). Is it not cool to for somebody else to buy scalped tix and take them as a gift? Anyway, I’m in for NYE in the sweet seats!!

  4. lumpyhead Says:

    guyforget, that is f*cking awesome!

  5. lumpyhead Says:

    yeah, kfl, it had some highlights but I was pretty surprised at how little valuable content there was for me.

  6. willowed Says:

    Spinning the 10/31 Stash. I am getting ready to go into hyperbassalactic shock.

    I have already placed a pillow on my desk so i don’t hurt myself when I pass out from brain meltage.

  7. lumpyhead Says:

    willowed, shit is awesome because I found out two days ago that I am going to MSG.

  8. gavinsdad Says:

    @jeffiem – welcome to the next phase of your life 🙂 that’s exactly how the trajectory goes.

    i stopped exchanging gifts with any nuclear and extended fam. we save the $$ for our kids….and both my boys have Jan bdays so we get the double whammy expenditures-wise.

    the only two material things on my wishlist:
    -grado headphones
    -a new blackwatch plaid flannel Pendleton shirt (nod to Oregon Mr. C)

  9. gavinsdad Says:

    ^oh yeah, and an icy cold bong hit natch

  10. willowed Says:

    KFL. I was 10 yards left of Fishman that night in Woosta. That show was fun (Wedge opener if I recall) and that Jim was different but nothing out of this world. Just long

  11. gavinsdad Says:

    @guyforget: calling in favors is part of the drill. nice work and have fun.

  12. guyforget Says:

    indeed. haven’t been to phish at MSG since 97 run..pysched.

  13. willowed Says:

    Nice to hear lumpy!!
    I wish I could do the MSG run. Doing the Woosta run.

    I’v been seeing the boys since 95 and I have never seen a NYE show. Is that a freakin’ travesty or what?

    Have to be with the wife on New Years. 3 kids so baby sitters are tough to find on this nght!!

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah our extended fams refuse to stop the whole gift giving circus thing

    we’ve whittled it down to a gift exchange so you don’t have to buy gifts for everyone or any of that….

    @guyforget FTW!!!!!

    ^^^ rarely has the acronym been so apt

  15. guyforget Says:

    so you can tell i haven’t been on in awhile since i don’t know the acronynm FTW….please enlighten!!

  16. Jtran Says:

    I agree with our King, the Jim is better in SBD form.

    I really dig it for the first 20/30 minutes, then it loses me for a while.

  17. willowed Says:

    for the win

  18. Jtran Says:

    And anyone need a 12/28 ticket yet? Potentially selling the one I’m buying from @phoammhead.

    And anyone have an extra 12/30? Potentially hitting up that show but not 12/28.

    Thinking about making the Xmas eve trip to Utah followed by a little NYC NYE.
    Feeler post for now.

    jtranvt23 at gmail

  19. willowed Says:

    I think

  20. gavinsdad Says:

    trust me Mr C we’ve lobbied hard to tone down the gift giving circus. we say “no gifts” to everyone and somehow my kids will still end up with half of Chinas’ toy output. people feel good about a little giving and i cant really be mad at that.

  21. Lycanthropist Says:

    give me the 10 min Sands of 3.0 over that jimphony any day of the week.

  22. joe Says:

    biggest nye regret I have is not going to the one at the old boston garden with the hotdog. had a handful of shows under my belt by that time but didn’t really have any friends interested in going, combined with being 22 and wanting to go out to bars and try to score with the ladies swayed my decision. had last minute thoughts as I was hopping on the train at North Station where the old garden (see avatar) was located and heads were mulling around…In retrospect a very bad move. I have no recollection of that night and missed out on a peak phish experience.

  23. JeffieM Says:

    congrats, guyforget!

    The $13 24 pack I need to go pick up before It’s always sunny tonight begs to differ that I’m entering a phase… but it is certainly a phase that I’m looking forward to, circa 2020.

    My sister and I decided that we’re both broke students, so we can go out over break and buy each other a drink for Christmas.

  24. gavinsdad Says:

    one of the things i do because of this board from time to time is wonder which of you guys/gals were at shows i was at in the past but i never “knew you”.

    emperor palpatine was at the philly 94 nye run show i was at. i get a kick out of that. i’m sure many of you were at some 2.0 shows i was at.

    and i’m just gonna give some props to Mango Mitch for this time last years MSG meetup. there were def many BB meetups before that but that one really lit a fire under this places ass from a meet-and-greet standpoint. nice work Mitch.

  25. joe Says:

    we did hit big cypress though, and I was on the rail where they came out on the hotdog, so at least I have that going for me.

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