The summer of 2006 is what Trey Anastasio must've been thinking of when he decided to announce the disbandment of Phish a little over two years ago: with his own band, he's embarked on the first of two legs of touring as he opens shows for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.
In the midst of this, he performed a one-off with Oysterhead (a trio including the rambunctious bassist from Primus, Les Claypool, and drummer Stewart Copeland from The Police) at The Bonnaroo Festival in June, also debuting in Tennessee, taking up the heart of the summer.
On a series of dates with Phil Lesh and Friends, the guitarist bonds with once and future cohort Mike Gordon on bass as well as The Duo of Marco Benevento and Joe Russo, furthering a relationship formalized during recording this winter for an ambitious new studio album far removed from the mainstream appeal of Shine (Sony, 2005).
All of which must be agreeing with Anastasio given how upbeat he was during his hour-plus set preceding TP & Co in Massachusetts. It certainly helped to feed off the demonstrative fans almost stage front and center---more pockets of which rapture were scattered throughout the shed. But he had no trampoline under his feet as he bounced up and down, almost too impatient to begin another song just having finished one.
With his band now streamlined to its essentials---the formal but funky keyboards of Ray Pazckowski, a deep in the pocket rhythm section of bassist Tony Hall and drummer Raymond Weber, plus the throaty warbling of Jen Hartswig and Christina Durfeethe irrepressible ambassador from jamband nation is closely tailing his muse and just about catching up with it.
Compressing what might otherwise be a much more involved, extended set, Anastasio nevertheless presented an accurate representation of his music post-Phish. It's personal ("Drifting ), it's fresh ("Shine as neo-gospel) and brimming with loud slashing guitar, the likes of which regenerated the momentum of an otherwise well designedsequence of songs deflated by the insertion of one too many slow tunes.
A brand-new composition, "A Case of Ice and Snow, wasn't necessarily the culprit but either it or "Money Love and change would work as an effective change of pace, just not both. As it was, the joyful invocation offered in "Come as Melody convinced the uninitiated of the musical credibility of Anastasio, while the rubbery riffing of "First Tube sent the celebratory message home in no uncertain terms.
Actually, it dramatically and raucously climaxed the set with a flourish. If you thought the paring of Trey Anastasio and Tom Petty an odd one, given the generation gap of the respective musicians , the extended improvisations during the first act, where the vocals seemed like interludes in the jamming rather than the other way around, effectively set the stage for the more formal pop presentation of the headliners.
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