In concert: Trey Anastasio
By David Malitz
(Note: This review is of the first set only. Due to weather, had to leave early.)
Does any musician have an easier task when it comes to pleasing his fans than Trey Anastasio playing a solo show? As frontman for jam band saviors Phish he is the focal point for music's most rabid fanbase, filled with devotees who plan vacations around the band's tour dates and have a Rain Man like ability to reel off favorite sets - "8/16/95! 12/30/97!" When Phish's extended hiatus ended last March, bearded dudes with expensive bootlegging gear were given a second lease on life. A few years ago an Anastasio solo outing such as Tuesday's sold-out show at 9:30 club would come with a huge burden - almost a Phish show, but ultimately just a tease of the real thing. With the band back in full force, though, Tuesday's show was a bonus, offering only upside.
So, really, it doesn't matter if it was any good. It was, mostly, but none of the diehards who braved The Blizzard of '10 (Not That One, the Other One) to hear Anastasio and his six-piece backing band, Classic TAB, stroll through funky, noodly jams were going to object to anything, in the slightest. The 90-minute opening set had more peaks than valleys thanks to songs that were greatly enhanced by a three-piece horn section. (What isn't enhanced by a three-piece horn section? Maybe a child custody hearing?)
As songs drifted from five to seven to 10 minutes, the brass helped maintain momentum as audience members buried their heads, closed their eyes, flailed away and occasionally let out an approving "Woooooo!" Plus, the long songs were perfect for today's multitasking concertgoer - spend a couple minutes checking Twitter and Facebook, look up and everyone's right where you left them. As a bonus you've been probably bobbing your head all along and not just because you might have a contact high.
When the horn trio departed stage right, all negative stereotypes of jam bands were fulfilled - meandering guitar solos, a rhythm section off in its own universe, egregious displays of Guitar Face. And the two forays into light-reggae were about as successful as you'd expect from a band of seven white folks led by a dude from Vermont. But the grooves stayed thick more often than not.
The most telling moment may have been a between song anecdote in which Anastasio talked about his first solo show at 9:30 club and mentioned a version of one song played that night that was his favorite ever. It sounds like something you'd read on a Phish message board and showed the rare bond he has with his fans.
February 10, 2010; 5:00 PM ET
Categories: In concert | Tags: Trey Anastasio
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