Article by Benji Rosenzweig
This tour was probably one of the most controversial TAB tours ever. Early 2000’s were classic. The different incarnations of the band grew and shrank as Trey’s drug addiction did. In the mid 2000’s or “end of Phish days” got dark for Trey as a guitarist. The 70 Volt Parade was a disaster. Almost everyone who saw a show of 70 volt left frustrated; dark jams that were unfamiliar and uncharacteristically wicked left a lot of people wondering what had happened to our favorite guitar player.
The Trey solo acoustic tour and the classic TAB tour of 2008 were a refreshing take on Trey tour. Starting off with Trey’s Solo Acoustic show at Rothbury 1, the sober Trey was playing once again because he was having fun, and he played what people wanted to hear. The response was great, people loved it, and Trey loved his fans again. He returned to the basics, and was just playing his music again, no shtick this time.
This brings us to Trey winter tour 2010; many fans have been blogging, tweeting, and sharing their frustration over the same old set list over and over and over again. In an interview released on Trey’s website Trey said “The band has a pretty deep repertoire — our master song list has at least 50 songs on it that Phish doesn’t play. “ That’s just about what we got. Trey played 63 songs total, and about 50 of them were not Phish songs. There were 5 songs that were played every night (Cayman Review, 1st Tube, Push on Till the Day, Sand and Shine). Imagine seeing 5 songs repeated in every show for 2 weeks of Phish tour. NOT HAPPENING!
Well pholks this isn’t Phish tour, the band lineup changes, songs come in and out of the repertoire, and more importantly the repertoire is not nearly as deep. The fact is, 63 songs is NOT a deep repertoire. But the good news is Trey got his groove back; he is perfecting his craft and honing his skills. He is having a ton of fun and is sharing himself with his fans again. Think about Phish in the late 80’s and early 90’s… there were tons of repeats, but it was about getting to be more than phenomenal musicians, it was about being a phenomenal band, with phenomenal jams.
That’s what Trey is doing again. The, oh so loved Sultans of Swing covers, the 15 minute Sand jams, the Mozambique Love. All the intimate acoustic mini sets; Wilson, Bathtub Gin, and some rare ones. Trey is honing his skills again and exploring new ways to play old songs. What’s leaving people upset is that when you go to three shows, you may have seen the same show twice. This is not a bad thing people! Let the artist do what he does! That’s why we are paying him! Today’s frustration turns into tomorrow’s mind blowing event.
In the tour closer at the Tennessee Theater in Knoxville, Trey showed the love in a big way. Over 20 minutes of acoustic set. Trey and Russ were jumping around, spinning, and interacting like kids in a garage band. Before playing Strange Design, Trey told the story about how he wrote it right before his oldest daughter Eliza was born. He and his wife Susan were sitting at home contemplating life and the impending change in life, and as songs tend to do, Strange Design came out.
Seeing this show, at this venue was so intimate, Small Axe, Sweet and Dandy, a ripping Black Dog, Trey was in rare form. The best way to sum up this show, this tour, Trey’s playing, and his attitude in general is with what he said right before playing the song What’s Done. Trey told the audience that he was excited to finish this show and get on a bus for 13 hours and go home to see his girls who he missed terribly.
The loving, energetic, powerful, sober and enthralling Trey we have been looking for is back. He loves his fans. He loves his family. He loves his music. He loves you.
For videos from that show check out: