10/23/08 The Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA
I: Push On ‘Til The Day, Heavy Things, Dark and Down, Come On Baby Let’s Go Downtown, Burlap Sack and Pumps, Drifting, Tube Top Flop, Mr. Completely, Shine
II: Last Tube, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Sand, Let Me Lie, Backwards Down The Number Line, The Way I Feel, Gotta Jibboo, Sample In A Jar,* Wilson*, Bathtub Gin* (*acoustic)
E: Tuesday, First Tube
In arguably the strongest show of tour, Trey absolutely shredded the Orpheum from start to finish last night. Extending almost every song beyond it regular length into improvised territory, he crafted a show that never let up for a second. Giving a preview of what the ending of what tour will sound like in Philly and Richmond, Trey most definitely hit his groove in Boston, playing inspired guitar, with no lulls, like the man we know and love.
Taking the momentum from Lupo’s and snowballing it considerably, the first set blasted off with an energetic and jammed out “Push On Til the Day.” Certainly making a statement that he was here for business, Trey launched into some spirited improv right off the bat. Taking the high energy that filled the classic theatre Trey used the TAB-to-Phish song “Heavy Things” to up the further juice the crowd before launching into the rest of his set.
Yet, the most significant highlights came towards the end of this set. After a now-always-interesting “Burlap Sack and Pumps”, Trey turned “Drifting” into a larger improvisational vehicle than usual, as he soloed ferociously and brought the band right along with him on a climactic melodic introspective journey. Following the cool-reggae instrumental of “Tube Top Flop,” Trey paused to instruct the band to drop the tour’s first “Mr. Completely.” Easily the most adventurous jam of the evening, moving between rhythm grooves and wailing solos, Trey led the troops through a jam that that was long overdue. A psychedelic guitar odyssey, Trey shredded this one to pieces and it is the must-hear highlight from Boston.
The buzzing set break gave way to a second set that turned an already special show into the best one of tour. “Last Tube,” a song that has been getting bigger each time it is played, was cast into the set opening spotlight last night. Responding with a percussive palate that Trey brought into an darker intense realm, the song bust the improvisational gates of the set wide open. “Sweet Dreams Melinda,” a song that has been great but succinct all tour, was stretched out into an improvised melodic piece that Trey brought to a climactic peak. Finally using the songs smooth textures to improvise over more enthusiastically, it was perfect counterpart to the murky waters of “Sand” that followed. Easily one of the best of tour, this song seems to be racing “Jibboo” to the finish line for the most shredding piece of the run. While “Jibboo” was out in front early, the last few “Sand”s have been making up some ground. Tonight, “Sand” peaked the early set, as Trey drove the audience on a high-speed joy ride through the dark side.
“Let Me Lie” was placed perfectly after this adventure, as the Ray stepped up to compliment Trey more like another keyboardist might, foreshadowing what could become a gorgeous Phish ballad. After the breather, Trey busted out “Backwards Down the Number Line” for the second consecutive show, this time in the middle of the second set. I can’t help but think about Phish when this song is played- it just seems like the next Down With Disease, with lyrics for the adult generation- we’ll see. More magnified than Lupo’s version, tonight’s up-paced jam previewed what I think Phish will be playing in March. After bringing the faster improvisation to a climax, Trey’s band sat into the laid back group-effort, “The Way I Feel.” Smooth as a baby’s behind and with subtle mastery by Ernest, this extended period of mellow grooves did nothing to slow the set down, as its intricacy kept most directly engaged.
You could almost feel the massive “Jibboo” coming like an elephant right around the corner, and it came as heavy as ever. With many segments of sick grooves, Trey absolutely blew The Orpheum apart with a version that could stand up to any of the tour. Seething with adrenaline, the Boston audience reveled in the aftermath of what was over an hour of virtuoso guitar improvisation in which Trey’s band was on point throughout, creating a show that may remain top dog when all is said and done. With non-stop enjoyment, even the Phishy acoustic trio of Sample, Wilson, and Bathtub Gin didn’t seem to drag at all. With a rocking encore, The Orpheum needs to be knocked off the pedestal by one of the next two nights to relinquish the title of “hottest night of tour.”
In all likelihood, it will definitely happen.
In anticipation of Hampton, and with the enthusiastic response to Paul Gwynne-Craig’s great job with 12.6.97 (the Tweezer is fixed), I am featuring another piece of his work with one of everyone’s favorite show. More to come from Paul! (His account may run out of bandwith quickly, so if the link stops working, that is why. He is in Europe, and I’m sure will be on it when he sees.)
ROSELAND, NYC – photo: Jeremy Gordon