To see Trey Anastasio play a solo/acoustic show, in the town that I was born, attended high school, and have ever-lasting memories, last night could not have played out any better. For those who walked up to the Academy of Music at 6:30 on the dot for doors, there was already a line snaked around the building with eager fans awaiting entrance and access to purchase the beautiful Nate Duval poster, that was specific for the Northampton show this run. With a line forming all the way up the stairs to the balcony, awaiting their turn at the merch table, I'd say the first 200 fans got the now coveted poster, and it was time for Trey.
For those of you who have never been, the Academy of Music is an 800 person, historic theater, that has just recently begun to hold musical events. I remember my first time in the building was seeing the Nutcracker as a child. A quick sidenote, in June 2015, Mike Gordon played the same building. So many fans were smoking ganja, that the fire alarms went off and the building had to be evacuated. How did Gordon respond? He opened the second set with a Talking Heads cover of "Burning Down the House!"
With a huge response from the crowd, Trey came onstage, and sat down on a small wooden barstool, with no more than 5 pedals, and small table beside him. He opened the show with a rarity, "Discern," which has not been played with Phish or any Trey side arrangements since 2004. After attacking the opener with great precision and care, Trey thanked the audience for bearing with him, in deciding to open the show with the hardest song in his catalogue. He then went on to discuss how he had been practicing 100 songs on acoustic this past week, and he really just wanted to play all of them for us. It was too hard to cross songs off the list he claimed. He then ended the joyful rant, stating that he even learned "Fuego" on acoustic, but he wasn't going to make us listen to that tonight!
The night continued with a beautifully woven segment of "Farmhouse," "Brian and Robert," and "Theme from the Bottom." Prior to "The Horse" and "Silent In the Morning," Trey explained to the crowd how him and Tom Marshall (who was in the crowd), always have differences in opinion when it comes to interpreting lyrics, but Trey had always thought that "The Horse" and "Silent" were about his beloved dog Marley talking to him (RIP!), and the last line, "I will not dismiss you, shelter you, speak with you, smile at you, trust in me, he'd like to brush you off, and I'd agree", is Trey's response to Marley. The room got very emotional and Trey powered through, with a passionate "Limb by Limb," with crowd call and response throughout the verses, filling in for Page's lyrics in the song.
"Walfredo" followed, with another Trey ramble and dedication of the song, to longtime Carlos Santana percussionist, Raul Rekow, who recently passed away this year along with many other legends, but had not been given the proper credit and recognition that he deserved. He continued on a hilarious rant about how every show Phish opened for Santana on an early tour in the 90's, Trey and Page would egg on Santana and the rest of the band and crew, trying to convince them how great of a musician Fishman is on the vacuum. One night Santana finally let Fish step up to the plate, and contrary to what many discuss on message boards and believe, Santana was outright pissed, and needed Fish off the stage. In typical Trey fashion, he was laughing hysterically throughout the whole time telling this incredible story.
Other highlights of the set were the acoustic debut of "Steam," with Trey forgetting the last verse and asking Tom for help, with the song ultimately ending unfinished, and a beautiful "Winterqueen" and "Summer of '89," dedicated to Sue, Trey's "best friend, love of his life, and bride." Ending the set with a beloved new tune "More" was the perfect way to end the show, and leave the stage with a quick bow and a roaring crowd. Trey came back for a 3-song encore that made a statement. "Sample in a Jar," into a roaring "Wilson" with crowd energy that had the building shaking, and the intimate show ended with a seemingly fitting acoustic rendition of "Bouncing Around the Room." For those who are attending the shows in Troy, NY and Portsmouth, NH, you're in for a very special treat!
Setlist by Scott Marks
Brian And Robert
Theme From The Bottom
The Horse > Silent In The Morning
Anything But Me
Limb By Limb
Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan
All Of These Dreams*
Summer of '89^
Water In The Sky
Cavern > Backwards Down The Number Line
Sample In A Jar
Bouncing Around The Room
* Acoustic debut
% Dedicated to Raul Rekow
^ Dedicated to Sue