After a day of decompression and a 15 hour slumber, some post-tour processing is necessary. The past two weeks have been incredibly inspiring. To see Trey so happy and healthy in such intimate venues was like being with an old friend again- there was a lot of catching up to do. The zest and precision in which Trey played his trusty Languedoc all tour long encouraged vibrant dreams of the future. With Trey referencing Phish throughout the tour, and specifically mentioning the Hampton shows at the end of the last show, he made it clear where his intentions were. With Tony, Russ, and Ray- the only members that should ever comprise the Trey Anastasio Band- Trey became re-acclimated to stage, and by mid-tour, he owned it once again. With his multi-faceted guitar repertoire flowing like molten lava, Trey gained so much momentum throughout the eight shows that it seemed he wished the tour was not ending so soon.
Despite similar setlists, Trey magnified different songs on different nights and sprinkled in enough new and other songs to keep every show feeling unique. Enthusiastically shredding throughout the tour, song selection was secondary to his consistently pristine, clean and refreshing improvisation. Trey seemed to have as good a time as anyone over the fortnight, as he was all smiles all the time. Complete with his one “show shirt” for the tour, it sure seems that the cosmic jokester we know and love is back to tickle, tease and tangle our minds again.
Musically announcing his comeback to each audience across the Northeast, and one in the south, Trey seemed as if he was rediscovering the joy of just playing. Clearly not carrying as much personal weight with him, his childlike bliss shone each and every night. With shows comprised of several new songs, some from Shine and 18 Steps and many TAB classics, Trey and his band delighted each and every audience of the tour. With the white-hot focus on the sublime improvisation of the man himself, he consistently responded with blistering, yet delicate playing that provided a significant contrast to his last days with 70 Volt Parade in 2006.
The entire tour had a distinctly celebratory tone to it, as the energy in every room was astronomical. With the imminent return of Phish, and no shows scheduled between now and then, people knew this might be the one time they saw Trey before Hampton- or beyond. It would not be surprising, seeing how much fun he had, to see Trey announce a New Years show or two, but as of now all we have are rumors. This was the return of Trey, and with so much anticipation for the return of Phish, it was most definitely the return of the Phish community. With many fans reacquainting after the extended time away, one of the coolest parts of the tour was seeing so many familiar faces again, both friends and also those people you didn’t really know, but always saw all over the place. And this is just a preview of the massive homecoming that Phish shows will be.
Gotta’ give props to Trey’s band who were great all tour. Tony and Russ always holding down a deep pocket, but more specifically Ray Paczkowsi on keys. Adding a completely other dimension to the smaller sized band, he consistently improvised with Trey on the tour, supporting his melodies and licks, while helping build some monster jams. If there were a non-Trey MVP award, Ray would clearly be the winner. Trey went out of his way on multiple nights to point out that Ray has been by his side for every non-Phish show over the last eight years, and to say what a spiritual and musical connection he felt to his second keyboardist. Adding tremendously to funk jams, and layering melodies and sounds behind others, his playing stood out in every show.
In looking forward to Phish, there were some songs that seem clearly destined for our favorite band, and others that could possibly make the transition as well.
Let’s look at the possibilities:
Backwards Down the Number Line: Written by Tom and Trey, about friends coming back together, with a ripping jam, this one seems both lyrically and musically spot-on.
Light: Only played once, opening the second set of Wallingford, Trey seems to be saving this one for Phish. When you listen to the song, you can imagine Phish destroying it. A transcendent jam that will be brought to uncharted realms, I for one, cannot wait to hear this in Trey’s “other band.”
Greyhound Rising: Also only played once, deep in the Philly’s second set, this compositional masterpiece seems written for Phish as well. You have to figure if Trey has these amazing songs, and only played them once during these shows, he wants Phish to be the quartet to define their destiny.
Burlap Sack & Pumps: Consistently introduced with other TAB-to-Phish songs written by Trey such as Sand, Jiboo, and First Tube, it seemed as though Trey was implying that this was the next to make that jump. A song made up of multiple diverse jams and six total words, it sure fits the description of a Phish song. Played for the first times ever as a four piece band, this could be a fiery piece of Phish 3.0 improv.
Valentine: Played twice in the first three shows, Trey kept this one stashed away for the rest of tour. Another song you can just hear Phish playing and taking to divine places of improvisation, this new uplifting song seems like it was tucked away for a reason. Only able to go so far with a guitar solo, add three master improvisers to the mix, and you’ve got a whole different monster all together.
Let Me Lie: The next in the line of beautiful Phish ballads, this one will have a jam as well.
Ruby Waves: Debuted in Burlington, the only time played on tour, this song features flowing verses and extended guitar improvisation. Phish will make this into something this band just can’t.
Spin: With an open ended jam that has absolutely no necessary direction, this one would be a psychedelic adventure every time Phish played it. These would be the type of jams that dreams are made of, the ones that have no logical ending point and are wide open for the imagination. Potentially too autobiographical for his larger band, one can only hope Phish adopts this one.
A Case of Ice and Snow: It would awe-inspiring.
Alaska: This is the exact type of song that Trey would bring to Phish for no apparent reason.
DOWNLOADS OF THE DAY: Here are crispy AUDS of the entire Trey Tour (except Roseland), linked all in one place for your selection. Back to Phish tomorrow!
TAB, THE PALACE, ALBANY NY, PHOTO: ANDY HILL (State of Mind Music)
“Sample In a Jar” acoustic, Richmond, VA
“Sitting In Limbo” solo Richmond, VA