Review: Trey Anastasio @ Ogden Theater

When a request for Tube was called out it was obliged, although Trey admitted that he didn’t think it would translate well to the acoustic guitar (he soon proved himself wrong). Before Tube, we were granted a short story on how the song was written – stolen lyrics from Phish drummer Jon Fishman’s old journals. This story broke down the dam, and memories obviously flew threw Anastasio’s head as he smiled and laughed through the Tube lyrics, “as seen through the eyes of Jon Fishman.” Trey then opened the vault again as he reminisced about Fish’s former obsession with wheatgrass, a story I won’t try to recreate for fear of Henrietta’s vengeance. What I will say is that I learned more, perhaps too much, about Fishman than I ever thought I’d know.

Next, The Wedge was played before Trey dipped into some newer material with Joy and Backwards Down the Number Line, both of which included crowd harmonies in the ending moments. Strange Design would be the last song to feature Trey alone on stage. He brought out bassist Tony Markellis and tenor sax man Russell Remington to play Lawn Boy, a song described as his attempt to write a jazz standard before Phish keyboardist Page McConnell got a hold of it and turned it into a “lounge-rock classic.” Remington gave way to the backup vocals of Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman who provided some much needed layering on Let Me Lie, before the rest of the band joined them on stage for Heavy Things and Liquid Time. Trey lingered on stage for a moment, debating in his head, and then slung on his electric guitar for a perfectly funky and energetic Gotta Jibboo before intermission.

The full band stepped onto the stage after a short break, and the second set started fresh with a healthy dose of classic songs from the early days of TAB, new workings of Phish tunes and covers both old and new. Night Speaks to a Woman gave the septet a solid jam to settle into the room before Acting the Devil made its second appearance on this tour, and The 5 Stairstep’s song Ooh Child gave the room a quick dose of ’70s soul. Trey’s eyes lit up as the horns blew during the opening of Ocelot, a sure sign that he is incredibly pleased with their addition to the tune, and Burlap Sack and Pumps was as funky as ever.

What may be the most exciting addition to the repertoire is the band’s version of Clint Eastwood, the Gorillaz’ tune. Anastasio’s mellow vocals on the chorus allow Hartswick’s flow on Del tha Funky Homosapien’s verses to earn a great response. But, the most impressive moment of the evening came two songs later. After Last Tube and Alaska, Trey counted down and the septet dove straight into the Charlie Daniels Band classic The Devil Went Down to Georgia.

Unlike the acoustic version of this song that TAB tackled in Albany, this one featured Trey on his electric Languedoc guitar, which gave him the opportunity to shred the neck into a fury of musical chaos. The backing horns of Hartswick, Cressman and Remington set fire to the stage, and the crowd could hardly stop screaming afterwards. Plasma and Tuesday seemed a quick byway before First Tube ended the second set with failsafe energy.

The slow and steady encore Words to Wanda preceded the swinging Magilla, which would have been a perfect ending to the jazzed evening, and many people started for the door. But, not quite ready to leave this night behind, Trey led his band into the true final song of the night, the Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing.

Looking back on TAB shows of earlier in the millennium, which saw them play larger amphitheaters, having the chance to see them in such a tightly-knit setting is a great opportunity. Whether ticket sales have dwindled thanks to Phish’s return to touring or not, it’s no wonder that this project is taken to smaller venues. Not only does Anastasio seem more apt to connect to the crowd in these settings, but his constant smile is hardly missed from anywhere in the theater. Musically, nobody on stage could seem much happier. And that’s how we like it.

Set 1: FarmhouseWolfman’s BrotherWhen the Circus ComesTimber(Jerry)Theme From the BottomTubeGumboThe WedgeJoyBackwards Down the Number LineStrange DesignLawn BoyLet Me LieHeavy ThingsLiquid TimeGotta Jibboo

Set 2: Night Speaks to a WomanActing the DevilO-o-h ChildOcelotBurlap Sack and PumpsClint EastwoodLast TubeAlaskaThe Devil Went Down to GeorgiaPlasmaTuesdayFirst Tube

Encore: Words to WandaMagillaSultans of Swing


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4 Responses

  1. I must agree. I saw trey in albany and whether you liked it or not trey did that is for sure. he had a smile on his face the ENTIRE show. Myself I love tab i see them whenever I can I even would go as far as saying I like them more than phish (at times). It is just different. The one thing im not a fan of is the sing alongs. I pay $ to hear trey not a drunk kid fuck up the lyrics to free. In Albany gululah and buffalo bill were highlights of the accoustic set. See you all in Bethel and Wtkins(god willing)

  2. Really? Your bitching about Phish not making it out to Colorado YET? They’ve played there 9 times in the past two years, let alone the Mike and Trey shows. That’s got to be more than any other state.

  3. Hey JS,
    A lot of people out here wish we got to see them more. Colorado has been lucky, for sure, but it’s not like the east coast where you can get from MA to VA in 10 hours and see the entire run. In the fall, we got 3 shows here at a 6500 seat theater, so they sold out quickly and tickets were hard to find on the lot for a reasonable price. Same goes for Trey and Mike tours, they all sell out within a few minutes or hours. It’s just a hard ticket, and people scramble. Didn’t mean to sound like a complaint. I’m grateful to see them always.

  4. Phish has played here a fair amount in the past two years, but with the exception of the Broomfield shows it’s been a ridiculously hard ticket. It seemed like there were LCD Soundsystem-style Ticketmaster shenanigans when these TAB shows went on sale, too. Trey could have easily filled the Fillmore, a mid-sized joint that’s still intimate but holds a lot more than the Ogden. Oh well, Mikey tix are still available.

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