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. Chuck D Says:

    “we’re really the only North American nation with the wherewithal to host a Cup.”

    i’d like to disagree, but i probably cant. and i’m positive this is naive, but i’d like to see a “Caribbean Cup”. Couple coastal cities in Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, Panama, Costa Rica, Columbia, Venezuela, maybe some gulf coast states. unfortunately, the economic distribution of funds and such would be the hassle that keeps it from happening. i dont buy that travel is too big of an issue; pro teams travel every day. if its in all of the US, they’d have to travel just as big an area.

    also, we’ve seen from places like South Africa, when you build 15 new stadiums and dont have the existing sporting franchises to fill them, they go to waste. the billions spent on infrastructure fade away. however, if you divide the burden… it could perhaps be the economic boom that people think of it as.

  2. DukeOfLizards Says:

    @jCusty

    Population of Qatar is ~1.7 million. I bet you could find at least as many Americans who care just as deeply. But on a “nation-as-a-whole” basis, yeah, you’re right.

    They also are one of the most oil-and-gas-rich nations in the world – I don’t think they’ll be hurting financially, even when they do build climate-controlled stadia.

  3. Chuck D Says:

    “jon and his snare” article next thursday?

  4. KfL Says:

    i nominate chuck d for 2026 selection committee

    “world cup 2026: swe in the caribbean”

  5. DukeOfLizards Says:

    @chuck

    Definitely a cool idea – spreading the financial risk is really the only way it could happen. It’d also mean that each host island would only have to build and maintain one “flagship” stadium, which would also be cool.

    That being said, hosting the World Cup is mostly about prestige. Look no further than South Africa, who as you mention basically threw any financial rationality to the wind just to get it. I just don’t think more than two or (TOPS) three nations would ever put in a joint bid for exactly this reason.

    Plus, traditionally, the host nation(s) qualifies automatically for the World Cup. They would probably have to suspend that rule in the case you suggested, and frankly not many of the nations you listed could qualify on their own. So several of the host nations wouldn’t even be competing.

    But again, stranger things have happened, especially in the world of FIFA.

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    “It is a time for giving thanks so I would like to send a personal thanks to FIFA for not bringing your god awful sport to my country. Tip of my hat.”-guyute711

    LOL
    Funny shit!

  7. joechip Says:

    @Calpain- Re: your earlier question.

    there already was one ticket drop for Worcester, about two weeks ago, when I picked up four real nice lowers in sec. 124. I bet there will be another re-release within a week before the show date and I bet some floors will drop in that one, judging from what happened at other similar recent not-sold-out shows. Patience will be rewarded.

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    FUCK YOU IF YOU DONT LIKE CHRISTMAS

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ysfQjKKi70

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    Ironically, the World Cup is the only sporting event that DOES seem interesting to me, other than the Olympics, I guess. That having been said, glad to see Russia and Qatar getting some love. I was in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics and I saw how hard the Qatar people were working it (they had mad resources) and they really roll in style. I got to talk to the King of Qatar for a bit, interesting fellow.

  10. angryjoggerz Says:

    Will there be MSG ticket re-releases?

  11. DukeOfLizards Says:

    A brief message for all you music-lovin’, soccer-hatin’ folks out there:

    Bob Played.

  12. EL Duderino Says:

    Wold Cup would be better IMO if it was at least every 2 years not 4…

    To much time between, it loses its momentum

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    you can always at least enjoy

    CHRISTMAS ON ACID

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4OdjYY4RPU

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Week or 10 days before show look for re-release.

  15. Robear Says:

    Top of the mornin’ all!

    -1 for each of you that had the words ‘World’ and ‘Cup’ in any of your posts today.

    😛

    +3 for this write-up miner. I’ve been a life long Page phan, and maybe the inaugural member of ‘People For A Louder Page’.

    The 3 degrees of separation culminated this summer when we rented a house in berkeley from a life long friend of the McConnel family.

  16. She Divides Says:

    angryj- I’m hoping for yes on MSG re-releases. Based on a thoroughly unscientific study, friday afternoons a couple weeks before the show dates seem to be the best bet for re-releases.

    I will be trying very hard to score an extra ticket for 12/30 and 12/31 for my older brother (and sometimes lurker here) – he was supposed to be with his now ex-slf’s family for christmas and NYE, but in light of events he hopes to join us at the MSG shows! ::fingers crossed::

  17. She Divides Says:

    or listen to Palmer (sounds like his advice might be based on more scientific evidence than mine :-))

  18. EL Duderino Says:

    Nice Firebird avatar She Divides

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    you a fan of the Steven Stills album/group Manassas, @dude? I just found my CD of it I haven’t listened to in a really, really long time. I barely remember it, beyond a vague recollection of liking at least parts of it…I’m about to spin it now

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    “Bob Played.”

    yeah, and some say it killed him

  21. She Divides Says:

    @ el dude – thanks, technically it’s an old Marquette logo, but I’m fine with people seeing in it what they like 🙂

  22. lastwaltzer Says:

    @mr. c

    i realize you asked dude but……….just listened to that a few nights back.

    The first 2/3’s are really awesome. I really love the country portion. Probably my favorite stills records outside of the springfeild.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    well, or anyone, of course. it’s just in a style and era that I know Dude likes…

    and yeah this album is coming back to me now that I start it. it’s a mixed bag for sure but there is some great stuff on here

    timbales and pedal steel, it’s at least interesting that way

  24. Lycanthropist Says:

    like the KVJr avatar @lw

  25. Guyute711 Says:

    “A brief message for all you music-lovin’, soccer-hatin’ folks out there:

    Bob Played.”

    We all have our flaws.

    “yeah, and some say it killed him”

    Soccer kills folks, you heard it here first.

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