I’ve often said lately, even though I’m not entirely in love with what Trey’s doing on stage, I still feel a strange, compelling feeling to attend his shows anyway. This decision is motivated by the same line of thinking most of us employed in high school: I can’t miss that party, because something might happen there.
And that something happened Tuesday night at the Roseland Ballroom. Joining Trey for the three-song first encore, the Chairman of the Boards himself, Mr. Page McConnell.
Page came out from backstage with Trey to a huge ovation from the crowd, nearly all of which hasn’t seen Page since Coventry. That’s fair, considering I’m not even sure Page has left his house since Coventry. Trey then informed the crowd that the duo had formed a new band, “Halfway There.” Classic Red.
The duo played three Phish tunes — Strange Design, Waves and Waste — and they played ‘em well. Trey strummed his acoustic guitar as Page tickled the ivories (and the ovaries of the chicks in the front row). They walked off stage and the lights stayed down: There would be a second encore.
Out came 70 Volt Parade, with Page, as well as Ace-favorite John Medeski on the keys. Trey Band refugee Peter Apfelbaum joined the group on the sax, and the crew busted into an experimental First Tube with a legendary keyboard quartet making beautiful music. Man oh man, this was one of the moments you’re truly thankful you made the decision to sack up and pony up for the show.
Aside from the Page/Medeski sideshow, the Trey Anastasio Affirmative Action Funtime Band rocked that venue last night. As much as we like to joke about Big Red evolving into a pop star, the truth is, he’s now more hard rock than ever. Some of those jams last night were nothing less than throw-up-the-horns, mosh-with-your-neighbor evil. At one point I turned to my buddy and said, “This ain’t pop, this is metal.”
The band absolutely nailed songs like Night Speaks, 46 Days, Push On Til the Day, Simple Twist Up Dave and Come As Melody, just crushed ‘em. The interplay between Trey and the illegitimate Hall Brothers was leaps and bounds ahead of where it was on the first and second tours. Apparently, all that 70 Volt Parade needed was time to mesh, time to grow into each other and the new material.
There were some down moments in the show last night…I mean, no matter how good they sound, they’re far from perfect. Sweet Dreams Melinda killed all the Night Speaks energy, and Wherever You Find It is still one of the worst songs Trey has ever written or covered. I’m not the biggest of Sleep Again and the Mr. Completely jam wasn’t anything special.
But for the most part, 70VP sounded tighter, crisper, more confident and more cohesive. Give them another tour or two, and there’s no telling where this project will go. Last night was a fantastic event..it sure beats sitting home and questioning whether or not you should have gone to that kid’s party.