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. gavinsdad Says:

    @jeffiem: i was all about the “fire brewed” Strohs 30 packs back in my school days too…i getcha…but be sure to write again when that “good beer” thing happens next. i’m tellin you man…

  2. lumpyhead Says:

    I’ve never seen phish on new years or seen MSG.

  3. KfL Says:

    i’ll second those props to mitch

    just cracked a bell’s two hearted. def fit for a king.

  4. joe Says:

    when I was in school (walking uphill both ways in the snow, etc. etc.) the “Ice” craze was in effect. personal favorite was Ice-house. Also, was the hight of the 40 and a blunt era. Crazy Horse Malt liquor bought with couch change.

  5. gavinsdad Says:

    no big cypress or any NYEs for me ever and i’m not being burnt this time. would like to get one in before this band is really done.

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    never done a Halloween, Festival or NYE

  7. joe Says:

    (can you tell I’m bored?)…spent most of the msg meetup at the bar talking hoops with grateful cub’s buddy josh. I’m not one for working a room, especially when I’m planted at the bar. regret now that I didn’t meet more people.

    also, happy anniversary phish. worth digging up the video from setbreak at the 20th anniversary show if you’ve never seen it.

  8. gavinsdad Says:

    40s = “scuba tanks”. i preferred quarts (32s) cause i was a puss and couldnt drink fast enough. my 40s would always be so warm by the time i finished em. the quarts i could almost drink em all cold. high life quarts. maybe get one tonite for the Eags game!

  9. Leo Weaver Says:

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

    ^this…better start pinching your pennies and setting priorities now, you’ll have to pay for the satisfaction 😉

    @guy…congrats – the best tickets are free tickets! The only thing you should feel bad about is the fact that your sales’ profits don’t all go in your pockets 😉

    I’m with Lycan and C on Fringe, though we dropped it from the rotation this year…just couldn’t squeeze it into the lineup. We’ll probably end up watching it on DVD later. It was very enjoyable but def has some cheesy moments…guess they’re doing their part to win over the general populace. The Doctor is a great TV character.

    Mom’s side of the family draws names…everybody has to buy one present, not to exceed $25. Usually a gift card, cold hard cash, or a little something pretty awesome otherwise…everybody’s good about getting creative with the $25, so it all works out great.

  10. JeffieM Says:

    Yeah, I really got spoiled by my parents beer-wise over break. Tonight will be my first night back to the cheap…

    We toured the New Belgium Brewery out in Ft. Collins, Co. Super cool company… all employee owned, super green, and great beer. The guy started it with a home brew kit that he made himself (electrical engineer) in his basement. I totally recommend the tour if you are ever in the area.
    I also had a very interesting Green Chili flavored beer. Not my favorite, but good and very different.
    Like I said, spoiled.

  11. Leo Weaver Says:

    Mitch and Frankie were standing next to me and Aintnotele in the line preshow out at the Gorge last year before knowing each other…we all heard a dude behind us say, “yo, that was miner, we gotta roll.” put the pieces together last fall here on the BB. pretty small world with lots of crossing circles.

  12. KfL Says:

    jeffiem, you shoulda mentioned you would be in ft collins. my old stomping grounds. o’dells makes the best beer in the city…

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    ART THOUGHTZ: Post-Structuralism

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    the meet and greets last fall were definitely when the BB as a whole levelled up from what it was to what it is

    starting with the Oasis at 8 I think and then rolling on from there

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    Fringe is really the only thing I watch now, TV series wise, so making room for it isn’t hard 😮

    the occasional episode of Big Bang Theory…

    and Phineas & Ferb with the kiddo. Great show if you have school age kids BTW. Smart, very fun, hilarious, and not a mean or snarky second in the whole series. No fart jokes either. Fantastic, top grade kids show, for real.

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    it’s really hard for kids shows to be good natured and kind hearted without being cheesy or lame but they totally nail it

  17. Lycanthropist Says:

    watching Fringe, Dexter and Modern Family these days

    Just finished Season 4 of Dexter

    A third of the way through Season 2 on Fringe

    and up to date with Modern Family.

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    oh yeah my wife watches Modern Family and I catch about half of every second or third episode

    very funny and intelligent show

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    later y’all

  20. joe Says:

    the only one I’m into now is Boardwalk Empire on HBO, but that’s ending on Sunday. going to have so much left unresolved and probably has a super long hiatus.

  21. JeffieM Says:

    My sister just started Grad School at CSU out there, so we did family thanksgiving out west and she’ll come back east in December. Really cool town. We did the New Belgium tour and also grabbed beers at some place right down town that had a restaurant on one side and a pool hall on the other. Can’t remember the name. Also, a rather potent margarita at the Rio. I’ll keep O’Dell’s in mind though for when ever I’m able to get back there.

  22. Gavinsdad Says:

    Ah @jeffiem you are bringin it all back. I lived in the fort two different times. Margs at the Rio! We knew all the servers so they’d let us get more than 3. Lucky my house was a short walk from there.

  23. Leo Weaver Says:

    Dexter was great…first couple of seasons anyway. It’s another one we dropped for some reason. Mrs. Weaver and I are a little ADD with the series rotations, not many stick. The good ones always come back around later on DVD though. Very heavy on the educational/documentary/non-fiction stuff though…consistently.

  24. Leo Weaver Says:

    How has Boardwalk Empire been @joe? Almost made it through the first episode…

  25. JeffieM Says:

    More than three sounds lethal. I don’t think I’d want to drive after one, although I am a pretty small guy.

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