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:

    that would be coopersmiths

    the rio… yeah… one of the biggest mistakes i ever made started at the rio (it’s not what you’re thinking)

  2. JeffieM Says:

    Dexter is one I need to check out.
    My favorite the last couple of years has been Community. Really corny show, but also some really smart parody of pop culture/sit-com memes.

  3. joe Says:

    Leo – I’m really enjoying Boardwalk Empire. big fan of steve buschemi. It’s definitely a little violent with lots of gratuitous nudity, etc. which is pretty much everything I enjoy in my television entertainment.

    (I also very much enjoy that period (set in prohibition, I enjoy basically the time period from 1880’sh to WWII) in US History, so that may also sway my opinion.

  4. Leo Weaver Says:

    See, all that stuff you mention drew me in. But the first episode moved sooo slow. Or so it seemed. Maybe I should give it another shot, though I guess not much need now huh?

  5. Lycanthropist Says:

    Dexter Season 1: Awesome
    Dexter Season 2: Ok
    Dexter Season 3: Up and Down
    Dexter Season 4: intense as hell

    Season 5: I dunno

  6. sneven Says:

    @Mr.C – Phineas and Ferb is awesome… I’ll tune in even if my daughter isn’t home. Also love the Penguins of Madagascar on Disney, and of course, Yo Gabba Gabba! (definitely made to be watched on acid. redonkulous!)

    I fell off of Fringe, but I’ve asked for DVD’s to catch up. I loved the first season, but my job doesn’t permit me staying up that late.

    My #1 first love TV is the Discovery Channel… Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs, Storm Chasers, and the *new* Brew Masters.

    I love semi-educational TV for guys. Unless there’s football or hockey on…

  7. joe Says:

    it picks up steam as the series goes on for sure. maybe too much going on right now actually.

  8. sneven Says:

    also, back on the egg nog thing… some places you can buy “vanilla” egg nog. I believe in the south they call it “boiled custard.”

    Sounds gross. Tastes like melted vanilla ice cream. Awesome with some Cap’n….

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    No one into Bored to Death? Love that shit. Also a 30 Rock fan.

  10. sneven Says:

    for the record, I also like women’s tennis… especially next year 😉

  11. Jtran Says:

    after listening to live bait 3

    That DWD jam RIPS.

    With that in mind, what are your guys’ favorite type I Disease’s? I personally love 9/14/99, but I’m sure there’s something that just RIPS from 94

  12. Jtran Says:

    So just recommend something that RIPS

    (I don’t know why I said that twice, sorry)

  13. JeffieM Says:

    30 Rock is fantastic. Haven’t been to up on it this year, though.

  14. Leo Weaver Says:

    30 Rock has been pretty good…def entertaining, light, and funny. Wife absolutely loves it. I was a little bummed when Sunset Strip or whatever it was called lost the “behind the scenes of popular comedy show” show competition, but I’ve enjoyed 30 Rock.

  15. joe Says:

    drunken history: (old news, I’m sure)

  16. Dr. Pronoia Says:

    Hey everybody. hope everythings good. haven’t been able to pop in much.

    I’ve got some thoughts about MSG.

    The friend I was going with just bailed on the run, and now I don’t really have a great excuse to leave my 7-months pregnant wife at home on our last NYE without a kid.

    But I’m definitely going to do the 30th and the 1st.

    I’ve got one good ticket for the 30th, and now two extras for that night (200 or 300 level), and two tickets for the 1st (400s, behind stage).

    Since I’m not going to do NYE, I’d love to try for a great seat for the 1st. You think anyone would be game to trade 2 400s for one good ticket, or some combo of the 30th/1st?

    figured I’d ask here first, in case anyone has friends they want to get in, and an extra floor/100s for the 1st

  17. Gavinsdad Says:

    Hey doc pro: if you don’t get bites here def try exotic trade variations on I had good success there. No shadiness.

  18. Dr. Pronoia Says:

    thanks GD. Everyone’s new avatars is freaking me out a little

  19. angryjoggerz Says:

    Epic meetup coming at MSG

  20. Dr. Pronoia Says:

    WOAH…I just felt my baby kick for the first time

    why did that happen during ticket brokering?? Am I birthing a scalper here?? Or does the little guy want me to hit NYE?

  21. garretc Says:

    @Dr. P

    He probably wants to hit NYE himself!


    Epic ________ coming at MSG. You can pretty much put any word there…

  22. garretc Says:

    Except “fail”, I guess… or anything along those lines…

  23. angryjoggerz Says:

    Epic disco dump coming at MSG.

  24. Gavinsdad Says:

    AJ – you hitting MSG? If so you have to wear Mike Gordon day glo head to toe cause you get a little “lost” when trying to make the meetups right? This way we can spot your ass.

  25. angryjoggerz Says:

    Damn, called out. Yes, I am going, and yes, I get lost.

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