I: Sand, Cayman Review, Let Me Lie, Gotta Jibboo, Dragonfly, First Tube
II: Alaska, Last Tube, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Valentine, Drifting, Brian and Robert1, Chalk Dust Torture1, The Way I Feel, Spin
E: Heavy Things, Burlap Sack and Pumps
1 Solo acoustic
In a solid tour opener that featured some significant Phish foreshadowing, and some flashes of fiery Trey, Roseland was a fun, if not crowded, way to get things going. At these “Classic TAB” shows, only three old, a pattern is already emerging. The known Trey classics- a la Sand, Jiboo, Night Speaks, and Cayman Review will still be played as a nostalgic platforms for Trey to shred on, while other songs have begun to transform into previews for what is to come with Phish. Tonight, the shredding-spotlight was centrally focused on the first set explosion of Jibboo. As Trey first spoke with a disgustingly dirty tone reminiscent of ’03, specifically the darker voice of the 12.29 Philly Twist, he built a scorching solo from these distorted tones, improvising heartily in what will sure be talked about as the “highlight of the show.”
However, the highlights of the Classic TAB shows, are not always the most significant moments for the future world of Phish. Tonight, two new developments occurred that should see ripples in the new pond. “Let Me Lie,” appearing as the third song of the show, featured a new arrangement with a mellow backing groove that served as a palate for some minor improvisation. When put in context of Phish’s reemergence, this seems like it will surely be a calm launching pad for a layered Phish jam. With a lyrically appropriate theme of recovery, and the song’s significant placement and rearrangement, it certainly signifies a probable entry into Phish’s new repertoire.
The second major development couldn’t have come from a more unlikely place. In what seemed like an afterthought to the encore of Heavy Things, Trey stepped to the mic and began to explain the genesis of what would be the final song. Reminding the audience that such Phish songs as Jibboo, Sand, and First Tube were originally co-written by his band members, bassist, Tony Markelis and, drummer, Russ Lawton, he introduced the last song, “Burlap Sack and Pumps.” Also written by the Classic TAB duo, this song appeared for the first time ever played by a four piece band. A staple of Trey’s Afro- Cuban “big-band” era, Burlap Sack and Pumps has always been a song that featured horns, percussion, and multi-layered textures. Tonight, it was completely different.
Arranged for a four-piece, introduced as the next in a tradition of TAB-to-Phish songs, and with a new psychedelic and exploratory jam, this seems like a shoo-in as a new Phish improvisational vehicle. What seemed like the denoument of the show was potentially the most significant part, as we look forward to March. Out of nowhere, this song which Trey explained started as “a little dance number,” emerged a new launch pad for improvisation that Phish could absolutely slaughter. You can stop thinking about the big-band, call-and-response tradition of the song- this was a whole ‘nother thing all together.
Throughout the show, Trey sounded clean, precise, and tight, and seemed noticeably more comfortable on stage than at his comeback show in Brooklyn. Despite a relatively lackluster setlist, and a momentum-killing acoustic segment of Brian and Robert, and an awkward Chalkdust, Trey still put together an intriguing and exciting show. The second appearance of Valentine, although no more extended than in Brooklyn, reaffirmed its potential as a monstrous Phish launchpad, while the set closer of Spin, featured an adventurous outro jam that moved into more groovy territory than usual, providing a upbeat ending to the mellow twenty-plus minutes of the second set that had preceded.
A sure sign that the next seven shows will be fun and meaningful, Roseland was a tasteful preview of what is to come. In the over-sized bar scene, a large part of the New York City audience seemed unfocused and overtly social the majority of the evening, treating it as a night out rather than a night with Trey. The other portion of the crowd was noticeably enthused by the goings on, especially throughout the more uptempo first set. With what is sure to be a less metropolitan crowd in Wallingford, CT, tonight, look for Trey to extend more of his songs with more fun and improvisation in the musically focused theatre.
And perhaps a big second set Burlap Sack and Pumps?