Trey Anastasio, Radio City Music Hall, NYC- 6/18
As I entered Radio City at 7:55, thanks to an absurdly long line, the funky
upbeat rhythms of "Push On Till the Day" greeted me and send chills up my
spine. Id been closely following Trey's tour online since it began and the
positive feedback has had me, as well as others, quite excited for our leg
of the tour. Opening up at Radio City with "Push On" spoke volumes about
what Trey had in store for us on this night at one of the most anticipated
shows of the entire tour. Unfortunately, the show did not live up to the
"Push On", as an opener, really got things going as Radio City filled up.
The diverse crowd was clearly excited to hear this song as it has become
quite familiar to most, and widely accepted as many people's favorite song.
"Money, Love and Change" followed and, while being quite a stellar version,
did not surpass the one played in Vermont. Nonetheless, this version was
a lot of fun and had everyone poised for an amazing set. It would've been
tough to follow the opening two songs with anything as they were really good
versions of both songs, and the combination of "Mozambique" and "Cayman
Review" failed in that respect. "Mozambique" had some fun interplay between
the band members but couldn't quite get over the hump. As well, it was
clear from the beginning of the "Cayman" jam that it was going to be a
quieter, more subdued version, as Trey's noodling worked its way around
Tony's steady basslines. At this point in the show, Cyro Baptista, new to
the band this tour, had put on an impressive display, but he really got it
going during "Cayman". However, again, Cyro was not enough to bring the
song over the hump. Fortunately, the whole band shined on a set closing
"Last Tube" which "saved" the set, leaving virtually everyone very happy
with the set, and equally anxious to see what was in store for the second.
Leading up to this show, rumors were flying all over the internet.
Appearances at previous shows by each of the other three members of Phish
had some people speculating that this would be the reunion show as each
member used an early show to become familiar with Trey's material. The most
logical rumor I'd heard leading up was that the entire orchestra that
appears on Trey's album would be present to play at Radio City, but that had
been done, to a lesser degree, in Vermont with members of the Vermont Youth
Orchestra, another expected sit-in. So when the band emerged for the second
set, many in attendance didn't know what to expect. What came, some would
say was a let down.
Concentrating solely on material and nothing else, the second set lagged.
"Simple Twist Up Dave—>Plasma" opened the set and was the highlight of the
whole show. The interplay between the band was stellar and the jamming was
as good as Trey's played in several shows. As the jam steadied itself, it
found its way seamlessly into "Plasma", a song played way too infrequently
for a song of its caliber. "At the Barbeque" followed which began the slow
decline of the set's energy. After the opening jam, anything seemed
possible and "BBQ" seemed to be at the bottom of a list of songs to play.
But it was perfectly consistent with the inconsistency of the night. Right
afterwards, "Mister Completely" brought things right back up with some
impressive jamming, but lacked the energy and experimentation from versions
out west. Subsequently, "Night Speaks to a Woman" suffered from the same
energy deficiency that sunk "Mr. Completely". While both songs, in the
past, have been the basis for some inspired jamming, the Radio City versions
lacked in several areas. [Author's note: People unfamiliar with the stellar
west coast versions thoroughly enjoyed these songs, and the show, and
rightfully so. My viewpoint and criticisms stem from someone familiar with
virtually ALL the versions.] While the set possibly could have used one
more big song to end the show, perhaps a "Burlap Sacks and Pumps" or
"Drifting", Trey opted to play the beautiful, yet slow "Ether Sunday"
followed by, with the help of some members of the VYO, "At the Gazebo".
These two songs, in my mind, sunk the set, as nice as it is to hear each
one. However, as set closers, they failed to work on this night. As the
band left the stage, and Trey thanked everyone, he left little indication as
to the mayhem that was about to ensue.
A standard version of "Alive Again" was our encore. I have to admit, I was
a little disappointed at this point. I really thought Trey and the band
would let it all hang out for New York and Radio City Music Hall, but the
subpar second set wasn't what I'd expected. However, as martial arts dancers
and scantily clad showgirls started to file on stage, things started to pick
up. Eventually, it got to a point where there was a long line of people on
the stage, being led and instructed by Cyro (who was all over the stage all
night) completely blocking view of the band. Each one had a percussion
instrument in their hands, as did a large portion of the crowd. Eventually,
the band brought it all the way down, and a full-on percussion jam began
between the people on stage and the crowd. At this point, things began to
get out of control.
The crowd was eating the whole thing up, loving every minute of this unique
experience. That's when, I swear, Trey led a single file line of these
people down off the stage and into the crowd, STILL PLAYING. Trey was
smiling ear to ear as he walked through the crowd, shaking hands, hugging
and taking pictures. He led everyone outside into the STREET where a huge
drum circle began on the corner of 51st street and 6th Avenue, which stopped
traffic. Hundreds of kids flooded the street to join it. At this point,
Trey had vanished from view, but Cyro was right in the middle leading the
circle for ten minutes as kids banged on their little tambourines and car
horns honked in the background. Mayhem I tell you. Absolute Mayhem.
Eventually everyone dispersed, but not after being part of the truly magical
and unique experience. Later on, as the crowd dwindled down, Trey and some
band members stuck their heads out of a second story window, inciting the
crowd. Vintage Trey. Some reports even had a girl next to him flashing the
crowd repeatedly. Hysterical.